Review: The Crew 2

Never before has a Touring Car race looked so pristine.

Never before has a Touring Car race looked so pristine.

Now it’s been a while since I started playing The Crew 2 and there’s a very good reason for that: it has absolutely eaten away any and all free time in my possession. Yes this fresh instalment from the quintessential, vastly open world series from Ubisoft and Ivory Tower takes everything you may have enjoyed from the original Crew game and, for the most part, largely improves upon everything you could have hoped for. 

First let’s talk cars... and boats... and PLANES?! I’ll be honest when I saw the first trailers and gameplay for The Crew 2, I was losing my mind at the possibility of reenacting some Goose and Maverick wingmannery whilst Danger Zone plays in the background. Sadly (so far) there are no F-18s to be seen, but the sheer catalogue of vehicles in the game is mind boggling; 220 (hot damn!) different cars, 27 different bikes, 11 boats, 8 planes with both air race and aerobatics versions and 1 helicopter. Now bear in mind these vehicles are split between 14 separate disciplines of piloting built into four main groups: Street, Off-road, Freestyle and Pro-Racing - it would be a tad silly to put a motor cross bike against the shuddering power Koenigsegg Regera, although you’re more than welcome to try it out in this game. As such, the discipline system works separately to the previous game in that each car can be separately purchased, in place of upgrading your car into multiple disciplines. Now this vehicular repertoire should be enough to entice any racing game fanatic, however on the off chance it isn’t, the devs have sweetened the pot by adding interior views for EVERY vehicle in the game so you can feel ultra immersed in your god like state when driving your Koenigsegg Regera - and I will keep referring to this car as I had some hard nerdgasms figuring out how it worked and spent a good two hours earning enough money to buy it!

Which brings me nicely onto the situation with in-game currency. Earning money is significantly less complicated and easier than the Crew 2’s predecessor. In the original game you’d need to graft for around half a day, alongside sending your friends on missions to complete in real time in order to accrue an amount in the ballpark of Mini Cooper territory - in short, hardly worth the effort. Let alone if you wanted a super car you’d be looking at paying 700,000 in game currency which took twice as long to get close to. In The Crew 2, earnings are accrued based on racing, skill based activities and the new photography system. Furthermore, earnings from these events have been increased significantly from the games. As such you can complete a two minute race and expect to earn around 13,000-15,000, meaning you can buy those top tier hyper cars (Koenigsegg Regera) for around a two hour graft. Easy. Naturally the longer the race, the higher the earnings, but the shorter races are much more efficient for earnings based on time consumption - I did the maths, I wanted that Koenigsegg bad. 

See what I mean? Pure beauty on wheels.

See what I mean? Pure beauty on wheels.

Sonically, this game is a masterpiece. Imagine engine sounds for everything far and in between, imagine ambiences for every possible environment that graces the American landscape, imagine the sound of the tires kicking up puddles in the rain... basically imagine you’re actually driving - everything is seamless. The real winner for sound in my books is the dedication the the reverb zones in the game. The attention to detail when driving near any occluding objects is staggering, in fact it’s nigh on impossible to find a static object that does not in some way impact the reverb signature of your vehicle and the others around. The sad thing is that it took me a while to notice this, but when I did it absolutely boggled my mind. Seriously, I urge you to just drive down a street in New York without any music on and just experience the sheer wizardry that has gone into the reverb programming - phenomenal. Furthermore, the music in the game seems to be much more diverse than the first Crew instalment, obviously it’s nowhere near as diverse as say GTA V but that’s forgivable with the level of effort that’s gone into the sound design and programming. 

Now I can sing the praises of The Crew 2 for as long as necessary but for the purposes of keeping this relatively short I’ll list some more good points to the game:

  • Gargantuan sized map, perfect for road trips on Route 66. 

  • Absolutely stunning visuals, although a little dark at night and no way to up brightness on the coals version as far as I’m aware. 

  • No expense spared in replicating major cities and landmarks. 

  • The ‘story’ is an interesting mix of sandbox and narrative elements. Gone are the days of the gritty 510 cartel, but not forgotten. 

  • Koenigsegg Regera - nuff said.

  • Photo mode, video editor and live track bring some really nice features to the franchise. 

Offroad driving in itself is enough to sell this game.

Offroad driving in itself is enough to sell this game.

Now it goes without saying that a game of this calibre doesn’t come without its kinks and flaws - and as I say I can sing the praises of the Crew 2 for quite some time so these do not detract from the overall gaming experience, but should still be mentioned. Firstly, the map to me seemed noticeably smaller than that of its predecessor. As previously mentioned the map is still mahoosive, but I remember completing races in The Crew 1 that at times took well over an hour - sometimes venturing into three hour territory. Whereas, in The Crew 2 the longest race is an east to west coast hyper car sprint that takes at most 45 minutes. Which is a bit of a shame as I’m the sort of person that will set up a playlist on Spotify and happily drive my virtual Koenigsegg Regera around for extended periods of time. So either the routes are shorter, the cars quicker or maybe the vehicle list amount was prioritised over the map size in the data budget. 

Next, it needs to be said that the crashes are severely unremarkable. When you’re driving your Koenigsegg Regera down The I-85 at 275mph, it’s somewhat fairly difficult to avoid the assortment of Cherokee Land Cruisers that dominate the surrounding asphalt. As such you’d expect a flurry of metal, glass and tires to disperse across the tv screen whilst you’ve got your hand down your popcorn bucket. Which is why crashing, then immediately screen wiping and respawning is so very disappointing. The most damage you can expect to see on your car is a couple of scratches around the front bumper, even from a high speed, head on collision. There’s something weirdly satisfying to crashing a car into a bridge and watching it burn in its near-gelatinous carcass of crumple zones and singed leather interior. Alas this is simply not the case with The Crew 2 but by no means was I expecting it. To discredit the game purely based on this after seeing the effort applied to building this game, I’m plucking at straws really. By no means should you expect crash physics akin to Wreckfest, let alone soft body physics like those from BeamNG Drive, but maybe if there was something in place to basically say, “You’ve crashed! Here are the consequences!” I would be a very happy man in that instance. 

Finally, the micro transactions - Crew Credits (CCs) as they’re known in game - are, quite frankly, farcical. In the previous game, the currency was difficult to accumulate meaning that the CCs were in some cases warranted, especially for big purchases like the Koenigseggm Agera at a cool 1.1 million in currency. However, with the realisation that money is drastically easier to earn, it brings the existence of the CCs in to question. Perhaps Ubisoft are targeting the purchases primarily at those sorts of people who want the fastest cars, but don’t plan on actually using them. I can’t quite wrap my head around it in all honesty. Sure, the hefty 1.7 million price tag on the Koenigsegg Regera is a bit daunting at first, but when you sit down and play the game you figure out the ways in which you can climb the financial ladder easily, making that price tag quiver in the shadow of your racing prowess. Of course you could always spend 243,000 CCs buying the car - which is a minimum purchase of around £18 ($24) - but where is the fun in that? There’s a real sense of achievement driving around a car you put in a lot of graft in order to own, a feeling akin to that of working up to 90 Smithing in Skyrim and building your first Daedric armour set. You feel like a king - untouchable, infallible, brimming with confidence. That’s a feeling you don’t get when you just buy it with real money. “Hey look at my sweet ride guys! I spent £18 on it.” It defeats the very object of the game in all honesty. What’s the point of racing in the plethora of events on offer if you just buy your vehicle list with real money? At RRP, The Crew 2 costs £55 ($71) for PS4. Buying the Koenigsegg Regera with real money is, in essence, like buying another third of the full game.

To summarise on a more positive note, if you are a fan of the racing game genre then The Crew 2 is definitely a strong contender for a best game in terms of it’s sandbox elements. If you’re more of a hardcore racer looking for in depth simulation, this might not be as good a choice but it’s definitely a good bet for if you want to take a load off in between your Grand Prix sessions in F1 2018. As previously mentioned, you might as well buy this game solely for the work put into building the sound effects and pressing as it is a masterpiece. Should you like amazing visuals, The Crew 2 has got you covered. Want to fly, captain or drive anything you can think of? While it might not be able to provide you with a Boeing 747 (yet…) it goes a long way to fulfil all of your childhood fantasies of driving that Lamborghini, Ferrari… Koenigsegg Regera. Whilst it does have it hiccups, these can be overlooked due to the sheer work and effort that has gone in to make this game what it is.