Reviews - Updated on April 11, 2022

Ivory Tower, the backbone of which at one time worked on NFS: Porsche Unleashed and both parts of Test Drive Unlimited, four years ago created the original racing arcade The Crew – with an impressive fleet, good customization options and, most importantly, a giant map of the United States, on which you can it was to ride for hours, not feeling the monotony of landscapes. There were some rough edges, but in general, the release turned out to be successful, and it can definitely be added to the developers’ asset.

A warm place under the wing of such a large company as Ubisoft is a great opportunity to expand on a successful concept: we all know how big publishers love sequels and in general “series production”.

This very expansion in The Crew 2 has taken place literally: now we have the opportunity to explore the virtual United States, which has grown significantly in size, not only on wheels, but also with the help of water and air transport. What else has changed in the second part compared to the original? Now we’ll find out.

Welcome to Motornation

It so happened historically that almost any game in the racing arcade genre has a plot, the characters of which have certain problems with the law. These guys are either lovers of driving too fast for local law enforcement officers, or outright bandits or hijackers. Illegal night races, police chases, confrontation between gangs – all this has long been familiar to the genre, even if sometimes they try to surprise us by putting the main character behind the steering wheel of a patrol police car.

But in The Crew 2 there are no police, no bandits, and there is no plot as such either. Unlike the first part, where the focus was on the confrontation between the guardians of the law and criminals, here everything is quiet and calm. Now the United States has become a country of racing fans – this, according to one of the characters, is much better than semi-underground competitions with the risk of rattling behind bars. Hence the variety of modes of transport, from boats to airplanes – they say, what American does not like to drive fast? Original? May be. But from the point of view of an interesting story, the result looks insipid and generally rather dull.

There are some attempts to create at least the appearance of a plot: the main character is trying to become the best racer, competing with the stars in various disciplines, which we are sometimes reminded of before important races. But, to be honest, these small screensavers are useless: there are no memorable characters to be found here, you almost immediately forget what is happening.

However, what is this plot to us – in racing arcades, he has never been in the spotlight. We came here for beautiful cars (and now also for planes, boats and motorcycles) and racing them, didn’t we?

Crew 2 game review

Detailing at a bird’s eye view leaves much to be desired – such is the price for the huge size of the map.

Three elements

With its “peacefulness” The Crew 2 is very similar to another project from Ubisoft – extreme winter sports simulator Steep. Outwardly, these games are also similar, there is enough in common in terms of gameplay: for example, there is a clear division into specific disciplines, and each race allows you to compete for a place in the overall standings among pilots from all over the world.

We can test our strength in four main types of racing: Street Racing, Offroad, Freestyle and Pro Racing. Each of them is divided into several more subsections – for example, Offroad consists of Rally Raid, Rally Cross and Motocross. Also in there is a small branch of tasks of the Live Xtreme series, during which it is necessary to change the type of transport on the go – a kind of racing all-around.

As for the models of equipment, there are plenty of them in the game – almost all major world manufacturers are represented, from BMW to Suzuki. Cars cost money, and a lot of it, but it’s much more important to earn the popularity of fans at first. So pumping is implemented here, which opens access to new competitions. The decision is logical, since our world is divided into racers and their fans, but the ticking counter of new fans looks somehow ridiculous while drifting in the desert, where there is not a soul around for several kilometers. Not otherwise, they are watching via satellite!

Crew 2 game review

In off-road racing, you have to make your own way from one checkpoint to another. Sometimes you can go “not there”.

However, jokes aside – the path to the heights of mastery will not be quick and easy. You’ll have to sweat a lot on the rough work to open access to all modes and races. After hundreds of kilometers on the counter and a dozen or two won titles, access to the competition with the best racer in each discipline is opened – a kind of “boss”.

What pleases, you don’t have to “grind” the same tasks over and over again – there are enough fresh races and additional missions for pumping and money for a new car, and a variety of vehicles will not let you get bored. If we manage to take a prize, then we get several containers with spare parts that can be installed on one of our units by raising the level of the car.

Tired of burning tires while drifting? We transfer to the helm of the aircraft and set off to conquer the skies, surprising those around us with aerobatics. We swooped in – welcome to not so fast, but very demanding water swims for driving skills.

The developers were quite lenient with the players who did not want to travel around the huge map from mission to mission. Access to the whole world is open from the very beginning, and you can get to the desired story race using a separate menu.

Crew 2 game review

There are still no reflections in the mirrors. Seriously?

However, nothing prevents you from reaching (or swimming or flying) to any point on a huge map on your own, since you can switch between different modes of transport at any time. You can combine business with pleasure – there are enough additional tasks along the way, among which there are also such funny ones as getting a joint photo with a certain animal.

In general, with regard to freedom of movement, here, of course, The Crew 2 has no competitors: huge distances and a generally good picture allow you to relax and unwind after intense races. At night or in the rain, such trips are especially good – and if you turn on the right music (unfortunately, the official soundtrack cannot boast of anything memorable), then you can disappear in the game for a long time.

In physics – deuce

Probably, the developers hoped that such rides “for the soul” would be just a pleasant addition to the hurricane races, gradually bringing the player closer to the heights of glory. But in fact, you want to stay away from all these “exciting races” after the first meeting. The reason for this is inadequate physics simulation and big oddities with the difficulty of passing the tracks.

There is absolutely no physics here – even shamanism with the settings does not help. Cars behave like monolithic pieces of iron, the influence of inertia and velocity vector on the road situation is minimized. Any collision only slightly reduces the speed and direction of the vehicle. No one is asking for heart-pounding realism in the style of serious driving simulators, but what you see in The Crew 2 encourages you to quickly turn off the game.

Crew 2 game review

Nitro boosters are on any model, even on an old racing classic.

The love of developers for ski jumps is annoying: in almost every race there are enough places where you can jump from the heart. The heavy legacy of the “leap of faith” from Assassin’s Creed from the same Ubisoft? In some unknown way, during the jump, you can control the technique by changing the direction of movement and tilt relative to the ground, and the best option to slow down before a sharp turn is, of course, to hit sideways against the wall or one of the rivals.

The latter, by the way, behave in a rather stereotyped and predictable way, and it’s not worth talking about some kind of tension in the race because of them. You make sure not to poke into a bump stop or a car on the “oncoming lane”, but it seems that there are no opponents – they don’t interfere with the player, and they themselves don’t suffer from our actions.

Motorcycle competitions look especially terrible, where there are the most opportunities for jumping – every race on two wheels is a match for the motorcycle arcades of the past decade, if not a century.

There is nothing to say about airplanes – the take-off is almost “helicopter-like”, collisions with trees and houses that do not bring any trouble, and many other “fun” features of the local flight model nullify all the pleasure of flying. Hooking on a whole bunch of lampposts and flying with them without any problems, performing aerobatics is a common thing in The Crew 2.

Crew 2 game review

Crew Maps. The quality, of course, is so-so, but you can see any point on the map.

Oddly enough, things are best with water technology – you can feel the influence of the current and waves on the boat, and maneuverable swims in shallow water are significantly different from rapid races on the high seas. But one water transport will not be full. How such a disgrace could be released in 2018 is hard to understand.

There are also many questions about the complexity of the races: it seems that each race has a recommended difficulty indicator, which must be compared with the level of the car, but in fact, some races are held “relaxedly” even with the help of equipment much worse than required. Other races are the opposite: no matter how you dodge, you can’t come first until the difference between the level of the race and the “coolness” of the car becomes completely indecent.

But the most important thing is the already mentioned uselessness of virtual opponents. The player competes with the track or with inadequate physics, but not with a bunch of extras represented by local AI pilots.

Crew 2 game review

Everything you need to know about the flight physics in this game.

***

There is a feeling that there are two independent development teams in Ivory Tower. Some filled a huge map with content, created transport models and came up with side tasks for each of the many disciplines. Others did physics simulations, “storyline” missions, and everything else. If the former coped with their work, then the latter worked carelessly. The result is obvious – as a means of relaxation, The Crew 2, with its trips, swims and flights to various locations, is very good. But as for the competitive mode, the terrible physics model kills all interest in racing in the bud.

Pros: huge, open world for travel; weather effects; variety of vehicle fleet.

Cons: Terrible physics simulation; boring races with AI rivals; some outdated graphics.

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