THE CREW 2
Ubi’s transforming racer reaches its final form this summer
Over the years, Ubisoft has taken its fair share of criticism for playing things a bit safe with its big, blockbuster franchises.
There’s a formula to the French publisher’s open-world games, and among other things it involves climbing towers to unlock things to do on a mini-map. So rigidly did the publisher adhere to this formula that even in 2014’s The Crew, a driving
game, required players to find radio towers in order to populate said mini maps. Something had to give.
And it did. The Crew 2 faces no accusations of playing safe, colouring within the lines of an existing blueprint, or wheeling out a tired franchise for another cash injection. This is a game in which the transition between cars, planes and boats has never been smoother – even if that means that the world itself has to fold, Inception- style, in order to accommodate your change of transport type.
It’s taken a while to get this new vision of racing game just right though. First announced in May 2017,
The Crew 2 was initially due for release in March but needed a bit longer in development in order to hit the quality standards Ivory Tower and Ubisoft had in mind. Consequently, it’s now penned in for release on 29 June.
What have the devs been doing in that time? They’re keeping fairly tightlipped for the most part, but they have spoken in the past about the technical challenges of blending cars, boats and planes: you move much faster in the air than on land, for example, and that means the game engine needs to render the area in front of you at a faster rate than it ever had to in the previous game. Elsewhere on the tech front, atmospheric clouds now populate the skies, and all-new highdetail vegetation populates the land below. There’s even been a handling overhaul, which frankly is great news.
The Crew had a lot going for it, but the fundamental driving experience always felt lacking next to Need For
Speed’s simple arcade skids and the more thoughtful poise of Forza. This time Ivory Tower is chasing that ‘easy to learn, hard to master’ ideal by its own admission, but what we’ve seen so far is fast and loose, freeform racing with a heavy leaning towards the arcade. So don’t expect to be tweaking deadzones this June.
All change please
Don’t expect anything particularly similar to the first game, either. Although the scaled-down openworld map of America is still present, this isn’t a story-led game and its focus is much more on exploration than progressing along a narrative path. In fact the addition of so many vehicle types – monster trucks, stunt planes, hypercars, Harley-Davidsons, pickup trucks and much more besides – comes from some feedback to the first game. Players felt that the story pushed them from race to race without much chance to explore what was, without doubt, an extraordinary open-world space. This time the game’s there to encourage you into exploring the map, which is why the absurd proposition of boat and plane racing exists in the first place.
Inevitably, with news of the release date comes mention of special editions: the Legendary Motors and Motorsports Deluxe packs both bring exclusive vehicles and driver outfits for those who simply can’t do without those things. For the rest of us, one of the most original racing games for years is just around the corner, and that’s enough.
“The transition between cars, planes and boats has never been smoother”