The Crew – the original – despite its problems, had a lovingly recreated American landscape to drive around in, taking Ubisoft’s open world trademark right into the racing genre, complete with haphazard storyline that didn’t make sense but at least kept you engaged enough. The Crew 2 was playable up at EB Expo last weekend on the Gold Coast, and I got to go hands-on with the sequel to see what the update will bring.
Immediately I noticed the graphical upgrade. The Crew 2 really does look great. This is helped massively by the fact that the tracks I raced on during the demo were far from traditional. While I started in the streets, it wasn’t long before my car was leapfrogging across rooftops and hitting large jumps. While the original was relatively faithful to traditional tracks, this sequel has embraced the crazy a bit – and it works.
There was also this cool effect that felt ripped straight out of Inception or Doctor Strange where the world itself kind of bended into place to create a racing path. I don’t know why this happened but I want more of it, cos it looked freakin’ cool.
To help add to the madness, the race I took part in consisted of three different vehicles – land, sea and air. The boats definitely felt a bit more floaty (pun intended) than the cars, but the transition from the asphalt to the water didn’t feel at all jarring. Flying a plane was probably my least favourite of the three modes of transport, but I’ve never been a huge fan of flying sections in racing games anyway – nevertheless, it felt smooth enough and very intuitive (I didn’t even crash!).
When I reviewed The Crew, my biggest complaint came from the lack of variety and also the overly aggressive (and totally unfair) AI. My time with The Crew 2 didn’t last long before I’d completed the race, but the style and options of vehicles (in this case all within one race) makes things feel completely fresh. If the rest of the experience matches up to what I played and the AI is refined, it looks to improve greatly over the original, perhaps even carving its own niche in a competitive racing market.
It was a short demo, but so far it’s looking pretty sweet. We’ll have to wait and see how sweet the final product is when it launches on March 16th 2018