Ubisoft is entering the next-generation race with its open world racer, The Crew. I had a chance to play The Crew at the EB Games Expo and left with optimism for the game. While it was not running on next-generation consoles, it was running on a PC so you can expect the experience to be similar on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
The demo sees four players first tackling individual tasks, and then joining together for a final team takedown mission. The events we took part in are the events shown in the E3 demo.
My first event was a race where I had to drive fast enough that I was always in front of a moving checkpoint zone. Unfortunately, this event ended fairly quickly as I totalled my car while trying to slip through two stationary cars waiting at an intersection. As I had failed, I was given a short period of time to drive around freely. As I was driving, I saw another player speed passed me who was travelling the other way. That is what is so cool about The Crew. Even though you are not interacting with other players, they are all around you. Of course, our session was controlled and there were a limited amount of people, but the MMO aspect of The Crew has potential.
The second event was a street race through a busy city at night. You can definitely tell The Crew is a next-generation game just by looking towards the horizon. As I was driving over a bridge, I could see an enormous city continuing towards the horizon, cars driving on the bridge just minding their own business, and the beautiful view of my car being totalled again, and again. Yes, I managed to total the car three times in about 10 seconds, but all the while I was marvelling at how stable the game was running. Even with everything being rendered in and no fog limiting the draw distance, the game stayed stable and there was no screen tearing at all. As with other next-generation games, all of the textures look smooth and crisp. Nothing has jagged edges or separation where they’ve been joined to make an object. It’s amazing.
Throughout the first two events, my car felt heavy and hard to control. I am pretty sure that was just down to user error because the other people in my session were not having the same problems. This was evident in the group event.
Without going through any menus, and with very little loading, we were all taken to Miami to takedown an armoured vehicle. While you are able to customise your vehicle, the demo did it for us to save us the time. Just watching the car being customised for muscle and off-road driving shows how deep the customisation will get in The Crew. It’s not as simple as changing the engine or the tyres, there are so many other changes you can make under the hood that define your car.
The final event got off to a rough start. Almost immediately, one of the players was bumped by another player. This cause him to bump into me, which forced his car to be turned around. Although he had trouble at the start, it would be my ‘brilliant’ driving that made The Crew a stand out experience.
As the armoured hummer was about to turn off-road and head towards the beach, we all started to follow. However, while the other three players made it safely onto the beach, I managed to slam my car into a palm tree and get stuck. The ‘brilliant’ driving does not end there. Knowing I would not be able to catch the hummer by following it onto the beach, I decided to stay on the road and cut it off once it tried to come in-land. After a bit of driving, the hummer finally started to turn off of the beach and drive on the streets. I saw my moment. This was my chance to be the hero of the day. Driving at full speed, I headed for the intersection that the hummer was driving towards. The plan was simple. T-bone the vehicle as it travelled across the intersection.
If you know me, you’ll know that when I make plans in video games, they often do not go “according to plan.” Instead of T-boning the hummer at the intersection, I realised I was going to miss it, so I started to make a left turn and start pursuing it with the other players. It turns out that there was another group of palm trees on the corner. Rather than slowing down to turn left on the road, I figured it would be quicker to cut the corner. However, I did not see the palm trees. I bet you can guess what happened next. Yes, I hit the palm trees, in the process stopping my master plan. I was forced to watch on from behind the trees as the other players performed the final ram on the armoured hummer, winning the demo.