Preview: The Crew BETAroot

Ivory Tower and Ubisoft Reflections are kicking off Ubisoft’s foray into current-gen racing games with The Crew, a game focused as much on social networking as it does driving.

This is a Ubisoft game, so of course it is a persistent world that requires you to unlock areas of the map by finding satellites and doing – as the game calls it – ‘more computer crap’; an obvious reference to Watch_Dogs and other Ubi games that use this mechanic, but sadly it’s still present here.

The game borrows the mobile phone style menu from Watch_Dogs so that the player can control their music, settings and other features. What is a nice touch is the map. Keeping coherence with the persistent world, you can zoom in and out of the map in what appears to be real time. While this is impressive, the low-res renders in the map are jarring when switching from the in game graphics.

That said, The Crew could do with a slight graphical update before release, but admittedly, this is only a beta. Impressive scope aside, the game favours shiny tarmac over genuine detail.

It is easy to state the influence that Burnout, Test Drive Unlimited and Need for Speed, but for a game that takes cues from these unique experiences that honed their features to steer the ride, The Crew fails to realise any of these influences with great effect. Most notable is the pathetic Burnout-esque crash cams; the damage and general lacklustre sequences are so underwhelming you have to question why they exist.

The Crew™ Beta_20141110214413

The same can be said for the ham-fisted story: pointless is too good a word. Given the little narrative content in the beta, it is telling that the story grates so much. Revenge, gang crime and undercover shenanigans await, whether you want them or not, with everyone’s go-to man, Troy Baker voicing the lead Alex Taylor; hot off the average performance in Advanced Warfare, Baker really has phoned this one in. The stripped-back, all driving approach of Burnout Paradise is sorely missed. It’s a throw-away story with obnoxious stock characters that Ubisoft seemingly gravitate towards.

The Crew™ Beta_20141110214334

There are some good design choices – including the test drive option in the showroom – but more bad ones. The onscreen GPS route floats above the car rather than occupying that shiny tarmac and, although it may be easy to see, it can be too obtrusive and often blends into objects that are on the designated height level, such as bridges.

Long story short: The Crew is average.

The persistent world is both a burden and a selling point. The scope of the world makes for interesting locales but the handling fails to inspire. Not to get too poetic, but what’s the point in traversing heaven with broken wings?

Metacritic score predictamundo: 76.

GameSteak predictamundo: Well-done.

Please consult the rating guide.

 

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