The NDA for The Crew has been lifted, allowing a little more light to be shed on this new Ubisoft racing title. So far you can see people’s opinions on Ubisoft forums, where people complain about the stiff driving physics (its not quite as bad as NFS Most Wanted), trouble joining crews, the upgrade system, menus (which are unintrusive until you finish a race then they plaster stuff on the screen), down to the lack of detail in rural areas. This is a massive undertaking by Ubisoft, they knew the road wouldn’t be smooth sailing. That said, with the demo in its current state 3 months away from release November 11th, this game isn’t bad and in fact could end up being good upon release. Let me show you why.
-Open United States map. They can only do so much in recreating the US, as google map detail would be unrealistic to install and getting from LA to NY would take 41 hrs of driving instead of 90 minutes. There has to be middle ground somewhere, and they are close
-Crew. The whole point of this game is grouping up with friends and going places and having fun. This works, albeit a few glitches and maybe taking a few tries to get your friends in your crew.
-Cars. Not only asphalt racing, but rally is an option here as well. So knowing you can take a left on a whim can be done with reasonable control with the right setup
-Mods. There are decent levels of specs available here, from full stock to street and working up to a full racing setup, while making any vehicle offroad capable is possible as well.
-Graphics. This thing looks darn good terrain wise and car models don’t look bad either. Drive 150 while keeping a solid 60 fps. (unlockable from the PCScalability.xml file)
-30 fps. Unless you play on a PC, you will be capped to 30 fps. While I don’t think this looks bad, many others do. Again I played this with 60 fps with the above file change.
-No load screens. Pretty impressive to drive on a map this big with no loading issues what so ever.
-In-car views. A must for many players.
-Driving physics. The core of any racing game. This depends on the player, and for me, while not perfect it was fun. I’ve heard others say the car seemed to be on rails, another says its like racing on ice. Well this is something that is continuing to be tweaked so we hope it gets better before launch, as pleasing everyone just will not be possible.
-Cops. You get busted fast. Really fast. Stop for more than a second and you’re off to jail. This will need to be addressed.
-Chasing/escaping missions. Enemies have a sightline that is very hard to escape when its 5 of them and one of you. Chases can last for hours unless your really skilled but more often really lucky
-Graphics. Some complain the models aren’t up to par. I don’t see this, but many do.
-Cities. Full cities models aren’t there on the major cities they did include in the game. They are scaled down verisons. No Batman building in Nashville? Blasphemy…
-Storyline. Not spending a lot of time on this one as it’s hard to make a story in a racing game. This is a basic stereotype, where something happens, you’re racing for revenge, racers are bad guys, and you play a hipster.
-Geography. Yes they can’t include google map specs of the US, but some of their choices as what to put in this game and what to leave out are perplexing.
-30fps. This is bad because its 30 fps. I included it in the good because it runs/looks good with 30fps.
-Several little quirks/glitches that will most likely be worked out by launch. (Hopefully)
Looking at this list you might say wow thats a ton of reasons not to buy this game. While that may be true, the fun I’ve had with this closed beta (Even being capped to lvl 10) I’ll purchase this game at full price. The potential is there for a masterpiece or a flop, and I’m guessing Ubisoft will fall somewhere in between with this one.
Despite playing as an unholy combination of Gordon Freeman and the prototypical neckbeard hipster, I enjoy playing The Crew, especially after changing the .xml to allow 60 fps. Framerate is so often overlooked as a key aspect to racing games. A high framerate makes the game feel more fluid and lents to creating a sense of speed. Just try playing the old Super Nintendo racing games with the Super FX chips like Stunt Race FX. The low framerates (as low as 15 fps) kill the game for me. Unlocking the fps on the crew made it much more fun for me.
I must also complain about the physics in The Crew. The best way to sum it up is that the cars just feel heavy. It takes a lot of adjustment to get used to how cars handle in The Crew. Tweaking the driving settings to reduce steering linearity and other settings helped a lot, but I still felt almost disconnected when comparing it to games such as Grid Autosport or Assetto Corsa. Not that The Crew is intended to be a simulator like the latter, but I still expect a car to turn when I tell it to.
Even after all that complaining, I still have to recommend The Crew. It is an absolute blast to play, even in free roam mode. There are resto-mod cars that you can find parts for and I completed the first one: a 38 Chevy style coupe. You can also get a crew together and just decide to go on a roadtrip. Church and I had an ad hoc Cannonball Run starting in Detroit to Los Angeles to see who was faster. The diversity of challenges scattered throughout the map is fresh as well. Slaloms, gates, jumps, out runs, and hit the marker all make an appearance.
All in all, The Crew is a refreshing take on what a racing game can be, and with a little more polish, this beta can make a fine game.
You can also catch an hour of gameplay from the closed beta from my stream http://www.twitch.tv/davoz28caboose/c/5013229