So as some people know the Crew from Ubisoft have been released and despite losing out on some sweet pre-order loot (who can say no to free cars in a car game) I did not do the whole dance and song of buying a game sight unseen. Especially as my experience during the beta was less than stellar in the driving department and lacked some serious online presence… Not very good thing for an online racing game… Add to that the whole embargo on reviews until the game was released and it was pretty much impossible for me to dip before.
But at its core the game was still fun and the PC beta was some good months before release. Much did happen. Especially the improvements to the early cars and how they handle. So I picked it up as my early Christmas gift to myself (ain´t being adult grand) and have sunk a few hours, getting myself up to level ten and finding my first hidden car. Now the game still lack a bunch in the online department and calling it a MMO is using the widest definition of the term as it is very limited in the amount of people you can see and interact with. It also have bugs… But what the fuck does not these days so I am not going to bother with that. If they are not fixed in a month I might consider climbing the barricade.
Now most of what I said in my preview post about The Crew still stands, the game is still very nice looking and the relaxed feeling of taking your favorite car on a cross country trip with no other goal then to drive is... relaxing and well perhaps not fun in the traditional sense but it give you a sense of freedom that few other racing games do. It is also very fun in its blatant disregard for realism and well often laws of physics. Taking your car and parking it at the top of Pikes Peak… Taking in the scenery… And then put the pedal to the medal down the Cliffside with no other goal then to see how fast you get to the bottom if liberating. The music range from great to passable depending on your taste in music buuut on does miss the talk shows from the GTA series. A minor nitpick in the grand scheme of things.
Now the game is not without flaws, the controls are still a bit squirrely and it is easy to overcorrect. Also this game is a console port… Do not event think of trying to play the game without at least a controller. It is simply not doable in my opinion. The content is also a problem, as varied as it is both in task and difficulty… It gets old fast. Now this is not much the games fault, it is a competent arcade racer and had it not tried to be something more I would not even bring it up here. But with the overarching goal of being a MMO of some type it would have needed something more, maybe some more wacky or instanced “cinematic“ sets?
Then it is the “story”… The legacy the games carry from more traditional racers. Not only are we hard locked in to the whitest dude since sliced toast. Thik what would happen if Freeman from Half-Life had a lovechild with Walter White from Breaking Bad… Now feed that child a steady diet of the Fast n Furious… Presto… It is so predictable I expect Michelle Rodrigues to pop up and try to screw me over. But I guess it does a passable to job to explain what could have been done with a normal tutorial. This does sort of lead me to the in my mind biggest flaw.
Not only can you not change who you “are”… Because no matter how muc I like to I am not going to see myself as a car… I leave the up to Pixar. But the car itself seriously lack in the customization department. Certain looks are tied to the games “class” system and other are simply not there for one arbitrary reason or other such as some paints and decals. For a game that says the car will be a reflection of me… They lock a good amount behind weird walls, I can understand that my dune racer need beefier suspension and wheels… but why not let me go a bit crazy with what I put on it...? The cynic in me say that it is because they need to put something in the cash shop.
Now one nice thing was that if one have 100 UPlay points you get a free Dodge Viper... that unlike 99% of Dodge Vipers in games do not suck. It is actually really fun. But the down side is ofc that you need UPlay to play the game. Ubisofts own little game platform still need some love and is not the most efficient snippet of code. But it is getting better.
So to sum things up. Ubisoft do have a really good core with The Crew but now it is up to task if they manages to keep the game updated on a regular basis and can keep the content flowing. If not this will be a very sad and short-lived attempt by Ubisoft to muscle in on the online scene.