Buckle Your Seatbelts
The Crew came out of the gate swinging, touting itself as an MMO"Car"PG and promising to deliver players high octane thrills across most of the United States of America. Through 2014, and several highly teasing betas, players were left anticipating the final product. Well, now The Crew is pushing the pedal to the metal worldwide and now comes the time to decide if this is the racing enthusiast's dream or sludge in the engine.
Set in a condensed yet still massive recreation of the United States, The Crew wants to set itself apart from games that have attempted the same thing. It wants the world to feel alive, and it wants to make sure that the players have plenty to do during the journey to maximum level and once they reach the top as well. Does it accomplish this? Yes. There are only a few stretches of road that I've come across that are completely bare of anything to do, while all the others have things ranging from races to skill challenges. There are some times where it's almost overwhelming. Sometimes you'll hit one skill challenge after another while just trying to make your way to a race. They're great ways to unlock parts, but sometimes you just want to reach your destination unhindered. Luckily, if you're not in the mood for a skill challenge you can either avoid them by driving around or simply pulling up a quick seamless menu and pressing abort.
As for feeling alive, the traffic in this game operates as you'd expect it to in a racing game. They're mostly mundane, while sometimes a major hindrance if they decide to switch lanes or if they dare to take that green light while you're about to speed through a red light. Traffic is also more condensed in cities rather than out in the countryside, and in both the morning and evening it seems like it's even moreso. At first I thought it was just coincidence, until it happened a few times, so these instances of the rush hour crowds make speeding around even more intense.
All the while, the MMO aspect of playing with other players is handled in a way that some may find unappealing but for a racing game I think works out perfectly. Rather than having multiple servers for players to pick from, it's handled in a sort of phasing way. That is to say, you only see up to 8 players within a certain proximity to you. Fear not however, because that proximity window is quite large and with a few exceptions. I almost never found myself lacking player interaction. Now, many would argue that 8 at a time isn't exactly holding up to the "Massive" part of being an MMO. I'd say they have a valid point, but at the same time I never felt that player interaction was lacking and I was always bumping into new players.
Large variety of cars and customization options, massive and interesting world to traverse, never a lack of player or AI interaction, intense racing overall
Though an "MMO" players are limited to 8 per proximity limit, keyboard and mouse controls are somewhat sluggish, music doesn't fit, story is just awful