This past weekend, Ubisoft saw the launch of The Crew 2 Closed Beta. After 5 hours of play, I was not disappointed, although being a Beta there were some rough edges. As I had not had a chance to play the first release of the series, I went in hoping to get a mashup of Gran Turismo and Need For Speed bundled up into one great racing game. However, being an open world RPG racing game, The Crew 2 certainly is a racing game like no other.
In terms of almost all racing games, the stereotypical campaign has the player joining a gang and working their way up the ranks as an illegal street racer. I was rather fond of the fact that The Crew 2 gives you the choice of completing multiplayer missions along with other players or on your own. The game sees you trying to build your reputation by gaining followers. Every time you win a race, perform some ludicrous stunt or land some truly awesome moves you gain more followers.
Basically, being a cautious driver, pilot or captain of the ship won’t get you far. The Crew 2 is all about over-the-top stunts. This continuous visual representation of your progression keeps you invested in the game as you try to build your reputation. As your followers and reputation grow, you gain access to more racing events. It’s a fun and addictive gameplay loop.
Players also have the option of making up their own crew of friends that can challenge other crews to various races. The open world allows the player to explore The Crew 2’s version of the United States and actually drive from one coast to the next.
Where the game’s predecessor kept your feet firmly planted on dry land, The Crew 2 has added sea and air racing to the game. Where I initially feared that this would detract from the core racing experience, instead, I found that it actually complemented it by adding a whole new dimension to the game. The progression system for the closed beta only allowed me to reach a certain point, which is obvious as Ubisoft would not like to give too much away. The open world looks great, although I did notice some small graphical and texture issues. With this being a Beta, however, it is mostly expected.
The Crew 2‘s controls are rather smooth and rewarding, a sort of mix between arcade-like and sim-like gameplay. Performing perfect drifts is not only aesthetically pleasing but feels natural and, of course, exhilarating at times. Similar to the land-based racing, flying planes and racing boats feels fun and, as mentioned, gives you a great alternative to the dusty roads of the U.S.
The new Mechanic Fast Fav allows the player to switch vehicles seamlessly. During play you could switch from your stunt plane to your powered boat with the push of just one button. This mechanic is a lot of fun and allows for some interesting and surprisingly fluid play.
The Crew 2 is boldly stepping into some unfamiliar territory by adding the air and water races to the formula, while also improving on what the first game accomplished. The addition of sea and air vehicles is brave on all accounts but, surprisingly, it fits in well with the game’s formula by adding rather than detracting from the overall experience. With some tweaking, The Crew 2 has the potential to be a great racing game that offers a unique take on the genre.