the crew

With the se­quel ar­riv­ing soon, Alex Nel­son treks across vir­tual Amer­ica in Ubisoft’s orig­i­nal driv­ing epic, The Crew

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Alex Nel­son

Pub­lisher Ubisoft / De­vel­oper Ivory Tower / for­mat Xbox One / re­lease date De­cem­ber 2014

As you zip across a (mostly) ac­cu­rate recre­ation of (most of) the United States, no game cap­tures the feel­ing of the Great Amer­i­can Road Trip like The Crew.

With a se­quel upon us, I em­barked on a vir­tual jour­ney, tak­ing in the 242 land­marks that scat­ter the game’s map. Each of­fer XP and a chance to ad­mire Ivory Coast’s ren­der­ing of at­trac­tions both fa­mous and ob­scure. With the whole of the United States ahead of me, plan­ning is a must, but although my brother’s just been mur­dered in cold blood (in the game), Mount Rush­more isn’t go­ing to see it­self. Tak­ing a north to south route around each of the map’s re­gions, there’s no fast travel al­lowed; just me, a 2013 Nis­san 370Z – the speed­i­est of the game’s starter ve­hi­cles – and dig­i­tal tar­mac. The game starts in Detroit, and the first port of call is Michi­gan State Prison, just out­side the city on an un­invit­ing grey and brown is­land. A rain­storm hits as I visit the city’s run­down districts, but with land­marks scat­tered lib­er­ally about, I make good progress.

I hit the high­ways for the first time on Day 2, pick­ing up some im­pres­sive speed as vir­tual Amer­ica whips by, the loom­ing Chicago sky­line pok­ing through the gloam­ing for an im­pres­sive vista. The morn­ing sun­light shows off the Windy City’s ma­jes­tic sky­scrapers, and the day ends tak­ing in the ‘Bad­lands’ of the Dako­tas, the set­ting sun streak­ing across the plains be­low Colorado’s Pikes Peak. A beau­ti­ful site.

Chang­ing scenery

Day 3 sees me check off the last of the Mid­west’s land­marks as I lose the plot, get­ting bored with roads and in­stead plough­ing through the fields of the South Mid­west’s rel­a­tively open ex­panse. That’s one of the game’s mas­sive re­gions un­der my belt, though one that seems to be on the smaller side. Day 4’s trip from Santa Fe to the win­try Salt Lake City is es­pe­cially pic­turesque. I did break the no fast-travel rule when I spot­ted that a data sta­tion I was af­ter was on the wrong side of the Grand Canyon and it’d be a lengthy round-trip to get there. I hopped across, got what I needed, and hopped back. Day 5’s jour­ney takes me into the snowy moun­tains of north­ern states like Wyoming, and upon ar­rival I dis­cover a ver­i­ta­ble win­ter won­der­land. But my nippy Nis­san isn’t built for these con­di­tions, and though the roads are well grit­ted, the white stuff is un­sur­pris­ingly hin­der­ing my driv­ing skills. Day 6 starts promis­ingly, zip­ping across the Hoover Dam into Las Ve­gas, the trip’s most vis­ually ar­rest­ing city, the twin­kling LEDs of mega casi­nos shim­mer­ing at dusk; a morally bank­rupt mi­rage. I head towards the south­ern states, which bring with them long drives be­tween land­marks barely worth writ­ing home about – though the Mo­jave Desert’s ‘Big Ther­mome­ter’ does register roast­ing tem­per­a­tures of 134 de­grees, and the Tuc­son Air­craft Ceme­tery is a re­minder that all works of me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing must die. The Nis­san has taken a pound­ing, but with an es­ti­mated two more (in-game) weeks at the wheel – there’s still the en­tire eastern seaboard, Texas, the west coast and the spit of Florida to take in – I’m op­ti­mistic about the re­main­ing road trip. What­ever hap­pens, driv­ing across Ubisoft’s vir­tual Amer­ica is cheaper than do­ing it for real.

“The roads are well grit­ted, but the white stuff is un­sur­pris­ingly hin­der­ing my driv­ing skills”

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