I may not have the largest social circle ever, but I do have a few pool of friends that I talk to every now and then. They range from school yard friends to the Throwdown crew, however they are all in danger of losing me once The Crew releases.
It may come as a bit of a surprise to most people reading this, but I feel most at home in the racing franchise. I am a self-proclaimed Need for Speed fan-boy. I’ve played every Need for Speed game apart from Shift 2 and The Run(s). Given a choice of what three games I would want to be stuck on a desert island with, you can be rest assured that at least two of them would be racing titles.
The main reason why I love racing games is because I am a petrol head (otherwise known as a gear head in America). I can talk about camshafts, twin-turbo’s, straight six engines and W16s as easily as I do about the Infinity Gauntlet, Fortress of Solitude and Adamantium.
Being a petrol head, it always makes me extremely happy when my dream cars make their way onto my favorite form of entertainment and The Crew is keen to avoid disappointment. The confirmed car list contains vehicles from SRT, Audi, Aston Martin, Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan and Ferrari.
Simply hearing those manufacturers listed is enough to interest me, but then seeing which models are confirmed sends me over the edge. There is a good mix of muscles, trucks, supers, a couple of hypers but not as many imports as I would like to see. However, in the age of post-launch support, I expect there to be many more cars in the following months after launch.
One aspect of racing games which has not been as prominent as in previous years is car customization. The last great racing game with a reasonable level of customization was Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005) and The Crew is looking to give that title a run for its money. Not only does it have the traditional upgrades for engine and chassis, but you can also spec out your car to achieve the optimal performance no matter what the situation is.
These specs are Street, Dirt, Raid, Performance and Circuit. The specs combined with the tuning option, plus a plethora of visual options, is more than enough to keep me busy throwing stuff at a wall until I am satisfied. Everyone knows that it does not matter how fast a car goes but rather how good it looks as it accelerates through every environment.
With the increase of power available to development studios, we have seen an increase in available play space of open world games. Ivory Tower has noticed this and have created one of the largest maps in a single player game. Here’s a brief comparison of maps sizes in popular titles:
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – 13.6 square miles
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 14.3 square miles
- Grand Theft Auto V – about 100 square miles
- Burnout Paradise – 200 square miles
- Just Cause 2 – 400 square miles
- Test Drive Unlimited – 618 square miles
Where does The Crew rank among these? It comes at (you might want to sit down for this) a whopping 1930 square miles. In other words, it’s bigger than all the titles mentioned on that list combined! Ok, it may be as big as FUEL (5560 sq miles) but with the distinction of spanning almost 2000 square miles across 12 major US cities including Los Angeles, New York and Miami. It has more than enough of a playground to keep the most dedicated among us busy for some time.
One problem with creating such a large open world is that you run the risk of creating a whole lot of nothing. By that I mean no matter how big the playable area is, if it is empty then it might as well not be there. Luckily, Ivory Tower has packed the crew with plenty of content. On top of the standard story, which will take you through the five key regions, there are handful of additional missions. These missions follow traditional racing modes like sprints, circuit races, evading/outrunning police and take down.
If you ever get bored of these missions, there are a ton of skill challenges dotted around which reward you with upgrade parts depending on your ranking. Even if you do not feel like pushing your ride, you can travel the lands looking to the various parts of the Kit Cars. There is a Kit Car for every region, but with almost 1930 square miles of space to search, it would be a good idea to clear your weekends.
With Ivory Tower looking to create a racing MMO out of The Crew, you had better believe there is some PvP. With any of the races, you can choose to either race against the bots or against other people. However, if you fancy racing with friends, you can join in what amounts to a driving club and actually race against people in eight player, Crew vs Crew battles. There is even an option to team up with other players to take down AI controlled cars. No matter how you like to game, there is guaranteed to always be something for you.
At the time of writing, not much has been revealed about future of The Crew. Yes – there has been a trailer outlining the season pass which contains car packs and early access to certain cars. Ubisoft has shown a chart detailing their release plan until August 2015 and as interesting as it looks, my interests lie elsewhere.
Mostly likely, you will have heard about a device known as the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to its release since I got my hands on it last year and I definitely intend on getting one when it hits stores. Again, at the time of writing this, Ivory Tower have said that they currently have no plans to support the Oculus Rift. However, I hope Ivory Tower sees how much of a step forward the Rift can bring to a game such as The Crew. I can see myself now simply spending hours cruising around in the cockpit cam while watching the sun set. Regardless of what direction Ubisoft chooses to take The Crew, one thing is for certain: I’ll be the guy taking the corner sideways at over 100 mph, in a cloud of smoke.
The Crew launches worldwide on December 2nd for the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360.