The Crew: Review - Games Weekly

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Crew: Review

The pan-USA road trip is loaded with romanticism. To see a landscape of such variety and drama through a car’s windows is what many of us dream of; the promise of such beauty and scale just too good to ignore. With its condensed map of the entirety of the United States, this is the experience The Crew aims to provide.

Sadly, it fails. rather than a breathtaking vision of one of the world’s most stunning environments, this is a predictable and shallow collection of videogame clichés that even the most forgiving of racing fans will have a tough time appreciating. While there are certainly moments of joy to be found within The Crew’s design, they’re far too infrequent to justify spending much time hunting them out.


Much ado about Newark
The potential of its landscape is ruined by a narrative that makes Miami Vice look and feel like the work of Shakespeare, its characters and plot twists so ridiculous and crude it’s astonishing a writing team would think we’d enjoy this mind-numbing nonsense. This is a great shame because the american canvas is a creative triumph, everything we’d want and expect from a game covering everywhere from New york to La.
“it’s astonishing a writing team would think we’d enjoy this mind-numbing nonsense”

One minute you might be crashing through bayou on the outskirts of New Orleans, avoiding huge trees and doing your best to stay on the muddy trail in your favourite dirt-tuned car. Later you’re dodging traffic in Miami, taking in the sights of the sea and performing doughnuts around cranes at the dock in your street-racing beast. across-country expedition takes you to Las Vegas, a land of sand, heat and neon. It’s mesmerising in its diversity and, without question, the finest and grandest open-world arena a racing game has ever seen.

and then, just as you were enjoying yourself, you find it all crushed by the combined idiocy of the narrative, progression systems, and missions that you’re forced to engage with. The Crew is an MMO in the sense that all the worst elements of the ‘genre’ are pushed front and centre. Levelling up is a tedious grind that you’re forced to embark upon constantly in order to meet the rank requirements of the core campaign missions, making what should be an expansive and free-wheeling enterprise one of sterile narrow-mindedness.

Side-missions of a sort populate almost every road, asking you to slalom between gates, stick to the racing line or, among other things, drive as fast as you can without crashing off the road. These are incredibly short and a good way to level up, but they’re only fun the first few times. before long you initiate them only out of habit, knowing they offer valuable experience points with which to improve your rank.

Cam-pain, no gain
Worse are the missions themselves, a recycling of tired and overused game types that do nothing to excite you. Grinding up the levels only to find that you’ve earned yourself another street race, time trial or ‘lose the cops’ objective is hardly rewarding, and certainly doesn't make the effort feel worthwhile.

There is a certain charm in indulging in events based in locations you’ve not yet visited, as they provide a good excuse to explore, but that’s exactly what they are a means to achieve a greater end. Never does a mission feel like the main course, it’s always an annoying side that you're being forced to consume.

PvP, unfortunately, only partially heals the wounds inflicted by the core narrative assignments. racing against your fellow humans is the fastest way to level up, and there’s definitely a greater sense of accomplishment in crossing the finishing line first here than when playing by yourself. ahard-fought race over the snowy peaks around Salt Lake City is exhilarating when you manage to find a group of racers prepared to play ‘properly’, but The Crew’s competitive multiplayer setup makes it too easy and tempting to win by employing underhanded tactics.

There’s no punishment associated with aggressive driving, causing the vast majority of races to devolve into mad destruction derbies. The player who manages to take the fewest hits over the first quarter of the race generally finishes as the clear winner. Given the vast wads of experience points earned for triumph, the incentive to ruin everybody else’s race is enormous and all but promoted by the lack of moderation or punishment.

There’s also an issue in that players with more expensive vehicles have a palpable advantage in PvP. This is natural, of course, as we all want to be rewarded for working our way up the ladder to the point where we can sit at the wheel of a supercar of, probably, Italian design. Given the number of credits earned for each mission, however, this luxury can take an incredible amount of time to achieve.

Cash for rides
Lucky, then, that you can part company with extra real-life cash in order to purchase your dream car immediately. you do this by buying ‘Crew Credits’, a secondary currency that you can’t earn in-game after you’ve exhausted an allowance you’re given for free. To buy a Lamborghini Gallardo in this manner you need to part company with £11.98’s worth of Crew Credits, undermining the idea of a free and open america for all to explore on equal footing.

Here, it’s those with most money who will gain the most ground in the shortest time. Such a system may be depressingly close to reality, but it couldn’t be further from the romantic vision of wide-open, exploratory racing The Crew promoted when it was first revealed Quite simply, it’s a travesty that a game featuring such a well-realised backdrop manages to fail so miserably whenever you’re asked to interact with it. The creativity present in the scenery is in no way matched by the mission design, competitive races or level system all of which seem to have been created primarily to make the experience artificially longer and more irritating.

It’s shocking that, within such a large world, you’re never let loose and rewarded for engaging in the Great american road Trip that The Crew is in such a wonderful position to provide. There’s an excellent ideal here, but it’s been ruined by all of the worst aspects of modern game design. If you’re never let off your leash, it doesn't matter how big the backyard is.

Spec Ops
Transformers: car parts in disguise
A single vehicle can be transformed into many beasts by altering its spec. This allows you to drive your favourite car across all terrain types, from clean roads to dusty canyons and snowy hills. The dirt spec excels, unsurprisingly, on dusty tracks and gravel. Raid vehicles go one step further and don’t require a track at all: simply bound across wild country as you desire. Street spec is a typical boy-racer setup offering balanced handling and speed on tarmac, while performance cars are an advanced form of street, favouring speed over handling. Circuit vehicles require more skill and suffer enormously on anything other than perfect roads.

6/10

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