The Crew 2
is a game that offers a large diverse line-up of racing. Coupled with the more traditional street circuits, drift events, and drag races that are found in similar open-world racers, you'll find monster trucks events, dirt bikes, RallyX and off-road races, and that’s before you even consider the game’s new additions of boats and planes. There’s a lot to do — maybe too much — but the result is a game that seems like a jack of all trades, but a master of none.
Connecting all these different racing disciplines together is an overarching storyline that sees you playing as an up and coming racer who is trying to make it to the top. You do this by earning followers, which acts as The Crew 2
’s main progression system. You’ll be awarded new followers for just about every action you do in the game, with more races and side events becoming unlocked as you work your way up to Icon status.
The idea behind The Crew 2
’s narrative isn’t necessarily a bad one for a racing game. The tone this time around feels much more suited to the game than the darker plot in Ivory Tower’s original crack at the series, but it ultimately fails to be compelling in any way. The voice acting grows tiresome, leaving you to reach for the skip button at every opportunity, even when cutscenes can’t be skipped during loading screens.
Combining the many different race types are four families of races: Street Racing, Offroad, Freestyle and Pro Racing. At the top of each of these categories is a veteran racer who you’ll be competing to topple, but not until you reach 70% completion in each one. You do this by completing the various races and events, skill challenges and a bizarre photo album which does nothing more than constantly pull you out of the action into the game’s “LIVEPHOTO” mode to try and find random objects in the vicinity.
Where The Crew 2
really excels is in the variety and number of races available. As you progress through the story, the map will become full of different events for you to take part in, and you are free to switch among each of the different race types whenever you feel like it. It makes it impossible to find yourself without a to-do list as you’ll be switching between boats, planes, cars and bikes so often. The racing is also quite intense, as there’s no rewind system available to help you correct any errors — regardless of if they are your own fault or not. Instead, players can only restart an event if they drop too far behind. The final stretches of races are generally pretty tight as well, as there’s a pretty large helping of rubber-banding going on regardless of if you’re making up the chasing pack or leading from the front.
Being an online game, you can also take part in the different events with up to three other friends or just cruise around and take in the scenery. Building your crew is quick and easy, although the game is currently lacking any PvP races if you don’t have any friends currently playing the game to play co-op with. It’s also a little annoying if you’re playing solo to go and make a drink to find you’ve been kicked for inactivity and have to load back into the game again.
The handling for each of the different vehicle types is very much on the arcade side of racing. Cars can effortlessly drift around tight city corners, bikes feel light and nimble, planes are extremely easy to keep in the air as you perform different stunts and boats react to the different water conditions such as being bumped from the tow of other racers. It makes the game easy to pick up and play and provides a lot of fun, although compared to some other open-world racers you'd be pushed to call the handling anything other than adequate.
In total there are over 250 different vehicles available at the game’s launch which can be purchased with “Bucks,” the in-game currency which is awarded after each event. Alternatively, you can use “Crew Credits,” which can be purchased with real money, swapped for Ubisoft Club points or received as an award as you level up in the game’s career mode. Many of the cars will take some learning once you purchase them as they feel unique, with some handling better than others on different surfaces. Other vehicles, however, didn’t feel like they offered any major differences besides a speed boost or sharper turning circle.
Upgrading vehicles in The Crew 2
is more akin to upgrading gear in an RPG. After each event, players are awarded loot. At the time of release, there are three rarities of loot dropped, with a fourth one promised to be added in the coming months. Much like Destiny
or The Division
, the different parts you earn through loot have an easily identifiable number which you can use to see if the new part is better than the one you already have in place. It makes upgrading vehicles much easier for people who might not know their torque from their horsepower.
Whilst much simpler to understand, the new system does have its drawbacks, as you won’t be able to fully upgrade a new ride as soon as you purchase it. Instead, like an RPG character, you’ll have to keep using it in races to slowly unlock new bits of loot. You’ll also have to keep visiting the four different HQs around the map to pick up any bits of loot that you might accidentally miss.
One of the biggest features that was announced in the build-up to The Crew 2
’s release was the “Fast Fav” system, where you can pick a land, sea and air vehicle as your favourites and instantly switch between them at the press of a button. The feature works well when you’re exploring the open-world and even better so in the handful of races that will have you switching between different types of vehicles throughout the course of the event. Unfortunately, those races are limited in number to around nine or so.
Like the first game, The Crew 2
has a large world for you to explore. The setting is once again the United States and there are many major cities and attractions scattered across the map for you to race through and discover. The events on offer do a good job of taking you through a range of different environments, but sadly, I never felt the need, or worse, the desire to simply cruise the world. This was largely down to two main reasons, the first being the scale of the map. Driving from one event to another can take an age without any real reward. The major shortcoming, however, was the lack of any navigation system being displayed on the roads ahead. Instead, when you mark a waypoint, you’re shown a pale blue line on top of the white road layout in the game’s mini-map which means you’re constantly required to keep looking away from the road to make sure you’ve not missed a turn.
This is especially annoying in what should be one of the game’s most epic races which requires you to race from one coast to the other in a Hypercar. Instead of enjoying the race for what it was and driving at daring speeds, players are constantly forced to consult the mini-map whilst trying to avoid other cars and obstacles on the road. With no rewind available and rubber-banding meaning you can never be too far in front, it’s extremely annoying to be leading 15 minutes in only to miss a turning and be forced to the back of the pack.
The achievement list for The Crew 2
is relatively straightforward and will probably take around 30-40 hours to fully complete. The majority of them will be awarded to you if you work through each of the four families of events and ultimately topple each veteran racer to become the top dog, with a few more sprinkled in for upgrading a vehicle, playing as part of a crew and earning more followers.Check out our Best Xbox Arcade Racing Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.
The racing on offer in The Crew 2
is fun and there are a wide variety of different events and vehicles that will keep you entertained. For some genre fans, that may be enough, but sadly, it’s a game that feels like a jack of all trades and a master of none. Throw in some odd design choices, a dull story, and lukewarm presentation and The Crew 2
is an ambitious game that doesn’t achieve its potential, nor does it approach the standard of some other open-world racers available today.
- A wide variety of events and vehicles
- Fun arcade racing
- Huge open-world to explore
- Fast Fav is a unique and fun feature
- Dull story
- Bland and lifeless world
- Lack of navigation line hinders exploration
The reviewer spent approx.imately 25 hours racing through The Crew 2's scaled version of America in cars, bikes, boats and planes, unlocking 19 of the game's 34 achievements. A copy of the game was supplied by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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