“The Crew” review

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Racing games come in many forms, and we’ve had no shortage of them over the years as far as consoles are concerned. Where “The Crew” stands out among them is in the fact that it seamlessly blends open-world exploration and drop-in cooperative play without any apparent hitch in gameplay flow.

While this is extremely cool and useful for finding people to play with, I think the core problem with “The Crew” is its seamless nature.

In this latest offering by Ubisoft, you’re tasked with bringing down a national crime syndicate from the inside. While driving cars and completing missions for reputation, you’re also trying to track down your brother’s killer to get revenge.

For those of you worried about the driving controls from “Watch_Dogs” making it to “The Crew,” fret not. Driving here feels much better and easier to control. Don’t think that this means all cars are easy to drive. The leveling system ensures that your starter vehicles will definitely feel just like starter vehicles, and need upgrades.

This brings me to another point right away. Many will feel that the side quests can be completed at the gold level from the get go. While this is true for many of the beginning ones, do not make the mistake of trying to do this with the starting car at low level for the higher difficulty side quests. That road leads nowhere.

Instead, try doing as many as you can, and when you feel you’ve capped out, move on to the story. Thankfully, that’ll help you move up in level and car parts so that your ride will evolve with you. When you finally get to those gold levels, you’ll really feel like you’ve earned it, which is a hard thing to give the player in a game.

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Tearing up the streets with friends can be fun or frustrating depending on the situation.

Unfortunately, side quests make me think of my biggest issue with this game. While many of them are fun diversions from the story and the game as a whole, it’s nearly impossible to escape them when going from point A to point B because of their location on the roads. Sure, many of them are off the beaten path, but primarily, the starting gate for side quests are right smack dab in the center of the street.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem except that’s where you tend to do most of your driving to avoid traffic. Couple that with an inability to leave a side quest once you’ve gone through the gate and you’ll have to suffer through timers and other screen-cluttering additions until it’s over.

With the way games are today we’re not strangers to a cluttered screen, but in a racing game with traffic and beautiful scenery, the more that’s on the my screen, the angrier I get. Especially when it comes to those extremely large stat menus that pop up after each mission.

Cooperative gameplay seems to be very smooth. You can invite your friends to missions, or race head to head with them or other crews. There’s a Quick Co-op option for each mission as well to recruit some new players help you out. I just wish it wasn’t the first option when starting a mission. You can’t back out of co-op search either if you accidentally push that one instead of moving the slider to Solo first.

Playing with other people in races and exploration is fun, but I’m not sure I see the need for other players in missions where I have to crash an enemy car. Sure, the principle is sound. More cars means we can use tactics to stop our prey. But really what ended up happening was my team and me running in to each other and swerving dramatically to get out of the way of one another.

Is “The Crew” really as bad as people are making it out to be? No, I think its an interesting game that could use some improvements but has a solid foundation to build off of. Is it fun? At times, it is very fun and you do feel accomplished when winning races or completing missions. Are there things that really irk me about this title, oh yes. Those however, are design choices more than actual gameplay bugs.

Wait a bit for a price drop and then tear up the streets with your friends. You might just have a great time doing it.