When The Crew 2 was officially announced to the world, my reaction was surprise and shock. The first instalment was mediocre with mixed reviews across the board. When “The Crew” was announced to the world along with the review of the Xbox and Playstation 4, it wowed crowds with its ambitions. A massive open world which you could race across which, to some criticism, was always online. However, there was a lot of geographical locations which boasted the fact it took an entire 45 minutes to drive from one side of the map to the other. The trailer was incredibly impressive and probably the first time I decided not to totally judge a game from its trailer. When the game launched, it was plagued with a lot of bugs and glitches, difficult to understand menu, poor story and the inclusion of microtransactions.
Fast forward four years and The Crew 2 arrives and one thing Ubisoft are incredibly successful at is transforming an underperforming title into one that evolves into a better experience. All you have to do is focus your attention to Rainbow Six Siege and even Watch Dogs and the sequel to know that Ubisoft have it in them to do better and learn from criticism. I also praise them for giving games a second stab, the development teams are not afraid of reviving something if they feel there is weight in the title.
Even though The Crew 2 has been out almost two years now, this is my first time at playing the game and I have to add I’m reviewing this on Google Stadia. Ubisoft appear to have a very good relationship with Google and there is a plethora of titles on the platform. I’m playing this using a Chromecast Ultra and a 300mbps broadband connection, so understandably, my connection may be more stable than a lot out there, so be wary of your personal connection if you’re planning on diving into this on Google Stadia. But the meat and potato of this review is based on the experience, so will be applicable to the title on other platforms.
I’ll start by saying that the status of The Crew 2 hasn’t changed, it still is very much an online only title. Whilst bad news for those who want to appreciate something offline only, there is some other significant changes here. It features a scaled down version of the United States and you’ll be able to traverse across this map by car, bike, plane or boat all in real time.
Following a non-linear story, you focus your attention on your unnamed character as you attempt to become a racing icon by winning all racing events across the world. There are four different variants of racing here: Street racing, off-road, freestyle and pro racing. In each of these sectors, you also have a fictional character assisting you. The criticism from the previous game was that players didn’t have enough opportunity to explore, as you were directly following the games narrative. This time Ubisoft have overhauled the progression system and split the tasks into hubs so that you can play the game how you want to play it, at your own pace. If you have played the game Steep which is also published by Ubisoft, you will know where I’m heading here.
The first thing I noticed here was the vibrancy of the menu system and how crisp and clean everything appeared. I know graphics have come on leaps and bounds since 2014, but this is a complete overhaul in a great way. The biggest improvement I have to say is the “Fast Fav” mechanic which allows you to switch between car, bike, plane or boat flawlessly without having to trawl through menus or trigger a new event just to hop into these vehicles. It’s integrated harmoniously and just flows ever so well.
It got to a point where my interest in races tailed off and I was just free roaming and taking in the vast world and atmosphere in by all methods. Flying over New York doing acrobatics in an airplane is great fun. The drive from New York to San Francisco is an apparent forty minute drive which isn’t obviously the real deal but it doesn’t take away how huge this game is. I don’t know America all too well as I’ve never been fortunate enough to visit, but with all the major cities I engaged myself with here, I could pick out all the major icons from its beautiful landscapes.
In fact there is so much to see and do here you almost forget that you can get your mates in on the action and live through all of this together. They can visit your world or you can frequent theirs, the choice is yours. What did disappoint me though was that the multiplayer racing factor wasn’t pushed more and it didn’t feel competitive to me. I’m more of a multiplayer than a campaign kind of guy these days and I can’t help but think they could have opened up so many more options in this sector of the game. There are leaderboards and leagues and suchlike but an online ranking and some sort of progression here would have been very welcome. Unfortunately, they have missed a trick here as this is where the Forza Horizon series excels. You see other players on the world map, but there appears to be zero options on interacting with these people. You can invite up to three of your friends and have a crew of four, however, it appears that you can only participate in the same events as each other or go for a cruise on the world map. This was massively disappointing and the missing piece of the jigsaw as it would be a game changer if this world had multiplayer racing going on 24/7.
The vehicle handling here could be better, if you’re really into your racing simulators you may be underwhelmed here as I found some cars prone to understeering, some felt like tanks and others had a feeling of a go kart on an ice rink. I think the downsides to the game are its blessing in disguise though as you start to look at it as an arcade racer rather than taking it seriously. I found the AI particularly unchallenging at times and then on the other hand they could be too far ahead of you, whilst I do love a challenge I do prefer it to be consistent and not frustrating. This is a real shame as the world you are racing in is of exceptional design and they have mastered this function in every single way. I spent my time thinking what if Forza’s mechanics were bought into this map and it would be the perfect open world racer.
There is substance here though guys, if you haven’t played it you’ll be able to pick it up relatively cheap now and if you’re into racers I do recommend it just for the flawless vehicle hopping and to take in the vast world and the landscape of America. If you’re wondering whether it has improved since the first instalment then yes it has in many ways but it is still some way off being a true masterpiece in the world of racing games. However there are some special features here that have set the foundations for something really epic should there be a third instalment. For me, I found myself playing this way more than I would normally play this type of game and not because of this review but down to how fun it was to just cruise around and absorb the magnificent map. The Google Stadia handled this title exceptionally well and though it did slow down noticeably every now and again it wasn’t enough to hamper any part of my playthrough.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Google Stadia code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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The Crew 2 Review
Gameplay - 7.5/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 3.5/10
The Crew 2 takes the good parts of the first instalment and boasts mesmerising landscapes of a vast open America. Whilst there are flaws it is still a blast to play through even though the online experience could be better.
- The vast open world is exceptional.
- Graphically sound and vibrant.
- Plenty of fun to be had if you’re not too serious about a “true” racing sim.
- Online play is very limited with other players you don’t know.
- Vehicle handling could be much improved.
- Longevity is an issue once you’ve done everything.