by William Thompson
previewed on PC
Get your motor running
Ahhh, the open road. There is much to be said about getting in your car and cruising the highway with no particular destination. The Crew lets you do just that. You take the role of Alex Taylor, a hipster looking dude who has a vendetta to fulfil. In a way, the story feels much like that from the original Driver as you work undercover to infiltrate the 5-10 club. There is somewhat of a story there, but let’s be honest - the game is all about driving and racing, whether it against another driver or against the clock.
Head out on the highway
The races and events load seamlessly, with only a small cut-scene to link races with casual cruising. Cruising around is almost as much fun as competing in the events. Indeed, driving around the highly modified map of the US is a joy. Keeping to the main roads will require more than a couple of hours of your time to navigate the ‘circuit’, but it is well worth the effort. Along the journey, you’ll get the chance to glimpse a number of famous American landmarks such as Mount Rushmore and the Seattle Space Needle (although it seems to have been renamed in The Crew).
There are plenty of races to take part in, whether you’re playing alone or multiplayer. Missions include racing to a particular destination in the allotted period of time, collecting items scattered around the map, evading police or trailing a fellow driver. There are even missions that require you to use your car as a battering ram and take down an opponent. Skills test are also available to complete. These skills test require drivers to complete tasks such as weaving through a slalom course that appear at various points throughout the map. And of course, there is the racing - Off-road, on road, city driving and even competing in the snow. There are enough variations in racing styles to keep things interesting for everyone. Points are awarded for completing skills and missions, and extra points are awarded for performing well.
Lookin’ for adventure
Finding your way around is simple with the use of the waypoint system. Drivers only need to open up the map and select the destination. On returning to the driving screen, a blue line (which often makes it seem that you’re driving a tram) appears above you vehicle indicating the direction you need to go. Getting to the end point is just a matter of following the thin blue line. Better than many real life GPS devices.
Vehicles ranging from American muscle car favourites such as Fords and Chevys to Nissan and even BMWs can be purchased at various major cities on the map, each with a different list of vehicles on offer. Each of the vehicles does handle differently, although often the differences can seem quite subtle. Certain vehicles are somewhat better suited to different areas of the map and the roads contained within those areas. Each of the vehicles can be tuned to suit each race type at one of the tuning stations. For example, the Dirt Spec allows for better handling and performance in forested or mountainous areas, whilst the Street Spec is better suited to street racing. Cars can be upgraded along the way.
And whatever comes our way
Visually, The Crew is quite nice to look at. Sparks fly whenever you slide against walls, but often, the damage does not seem to appear on your vehicle. Smashing head-on into a street pole on the other hand will put a dent in your chassis. Street poles seem relatively flimsy though as they fly around after you hit them. The vehicle chassis’ can be customised to suit your visual style. Everything from the hood to the tail section can be modified to suit your style of vehicle. The scenery is fairly nice to look at too, although for much of the time, you’ll be going too quick to fully appreciate it. But as mentioned earlier, cruising past some famous American landmarks is pretty cool.
The voice acting is quite good from what I’ve experienced. Each of the main characters has a different sounding voice and are quite easy to differentiate. Vehicle engines sound fairly standard for racing/driving games, with the revving being different from one car to the next.
Born to be Wild
When it comes to driving games, there are three things that often come into my calculations - variations in vehicles, tracks and racing events. The Crew looks to be abundant in all three. Feeling much like a larger scale Test Drive Unlimited, you race and drive around mainland USA, competing in race after race or cruising the open road in one of more than forty vehicles. The range of missions and skills testing on offer as well as the racing types mean that there is something for everyone. And although the game has a particularly arcade feel, it is definitely a heap of fun. The Crew is scheduled for release on November 11, and I for one am looking forward to seeing the finished product.