THE CREW: Open World Racer - Games Weekly

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

THE CREW: Open World Racer

From True Detective’s sleepy bayou to the pampered hills of Hollywood, through Miami’s hypnotic disco ball en route to Twin Peaksian mountain towns, The Crew is your very own great American road trip. A total of 250 landmarks line 6,000 km of open road, and discovering the lot feels like checking them off one incredible bucket list.

But only fools would expect complete solitude in an always online game called The Crew. This persistent multiplayer racer supports free drives and free for alls, symmetrical and asymmetrical co-op, and head-to-heads. The entire world is explorable with up to seven other people that might sound like a meagre number, but it’s enough to make setting up races a doddle. Simply navigate a D-pad menu to invite crew members into your game, who need only accept a pop-up to transport to your location instantly.

That’s what impresses most about The Crew: there are no loading screens. Players are free to warp to every single coordinate on the map or embark on the 90 minute coast to coast drive without pauses. Yes, there are barren stretches, but also pockets of beauty, including raging rivers and snowy villages.

Races run the gamut of point-to-point, circuit (a licensed Laguna Seca features, along with a ripped off Indianapolis speedway), country scrambles and city dashes, but best of all are the takedowns in which players team up to wreck an opponent through repeated smashery. One sees you pursue a hulking 18 wheeler through the LA storm drains as a load of cops swarm Terminator 2 style, while another starts you off on the top of a massive ski jump then tasks you with tailing a vehicle through dense forests.

Events and terrain change so drastically you’ll need to master several specs. Performance, for instance, is all about speed and flamboyance, perfect for blistering through Times Square; while Raid is for off-roaders who are intent on taming previously treacherous areas.

Iffy handling makes events more difficult than they should be. Slippy cars often snag on scenery, but at least getting back on track is painless a reset option zaps you into the throng in a flash. Although the slidey, lightweight vehicles fail to convince, feeling less like roaring motors and more like toys, varied environments and hundreds of quests and events help distract from the problem.

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