There was a plethora of racing games at this year's E3. Maybe too many, but whenever new consoles are on the horizon what better way to show off the power of these new machines.
Ubisoft may not be known for pumping out high octane thrills, but their entry into the mix The Crew, which started off last on my list, quickly shot to the front of the pack after some hands-on time. Then again, talent behind Test Drive Unlimited is fueling this all vehicle type, all-terrain racer.
Starting off in the seedy landscape of the city of sin, Las Vegas, it was here I hopped into a Nissan Skyline GT-R and took to the back hills of the desert locale. Casinos off in the distance, I cruised around in essentially a free-drive mode, that gave me a very Burnout Paradise feeling. Think Paradise city like environments, but only now you have the whole U.S. as your playground.
Littered throughout the city were skill challenges as well as missions to tackle. I was able to try out a couple challenges in my time in Vegas, one of which had me racing as fast as I could without weaving off the pavement and the other a slalom based course up the interstate.
It was simple stuff, but enough to give me the chance to get a real feel the for the game. The Crew leans toward the more arcade style of racers, but still has enough realism not be totally be off the wall. It's more Burnout or Need for Speed than Ridge Racer, but there is still the attention to detail that a sim-style racer relishes in.
For starters, at least for the Skyline I drove, there was a fully detailed interior cockpit view. I prefer to drive behind the wheel in games so it was very nice to see more than just a detailed hood in front of me.
There is also a companion app for tablet devices accompanying the game that allows players an easy way to customize their ride's finer details. What was specifically nice about the app is the ability to fiddle with ones cars on the go or prior to finding a race without having to dive into different menus.
Again, simple stuff, but sometimes it's the little things that can help make something special. On their own they are nothing that hasn't been done before nor something you can't find in one game, but then again none of this is what really what made The Crew stand out to me. That honor came when I was whisked away to Miami Beach Florida for a little four player cooperative action.
Like the title suggests, The Crew really shines when you are racing with a crew. The mission I partook in had my barreling through the sunny streets and off road on the white sands trying to take down a rival racer. It was fun and a little intense as we had to all work in unison to trap and smash the other car out of commission, while also vying to be the one who did the most damage and earn some well deserved bragging rights.
Additionally, what makes the online racing aspect of The Crew extra interesting is the fact that you inhabit the world at all times with other players. You'll drive around doing your own thing, but seven other racers will be nearby to form a crew to take on any of the game's missions for a four on four showdown. There us tons of promise with the game's online interaction and I especially like the fact that cooperative missions are treated similar to an instanced event in an MMO.
The world of The Crew should also be quite massive. I was told that driving coast to coast can take upwards of two to three hours depending on the route taken. Fast travel is also an option, and thankfully the game won't recreate any famous L.A. traffic jams so getting around should be a breeze.
I was pretty pessimistic when I first sat down with The Crew, but that quickly changed once I hit the dirt and pavement. All-terrain racing and a promising online component have piqued my interest greatly. Hopefully the final product delivers the same fun during my brief time when it hits Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC later this year.