'The Crew' Takes Players On A Coast-To-Coast Racing Adventure

December 9, 2014

If there's one genre of games that truly benefits from the increased power of the new generation of gaming consoles, it's racing games. What was once a very bland, and repetitive gaming experience has now grown into giant, seamless worlds, full of a host of different types of races, and just about every kind of car you can imagine. Even at this early point in each of the new consoles' lifecycles, racing fans already have great games like Need For Speed Most Wanted, Forza Horizon 2, Forza Motorsport 5, and Driveclub to hit the road with. There is now another title to add to that growing list, The Crew from Ubisoft. This release comes from Ivory Tower, a French team who has had a hand in some great racing games, but has yet to have one all to themselves. The Crew is their first game as lead developers, and they took this very ambitious effort to the finish line at the front of the pack.

Developer: Ivory Tower
Publisher: Ubisoft

The Crew might be Ivory Tower's first official game, but that doesn't mean that the studio doesn't have a worthwhile pedigree. The team behind this release has worked on some great racing titles like Need for Speed, Test Drive Unlimited, and the V-Rally series while working at Eden Games. On the publishing side of things, The Crew is Ubisoft's first car game since 2011's Driver releases. While they may not have a stronghold in the racing genre yet, The Crew clearly helps them make some inroads on the competition.

The Crew isn't just a straight racing game, as it borrows from the Need for Speed school of thought; use a bit of story to tie the races together. Players get behind the wheel as Alex, who is tied to the 5-10 racing gang through his brother, Dayton. Early on in the game Dayton is killed by a mysterious racer named Shiv, and Alex is framed for the murder. After spending five years in jail, Alex gets the opportunity of a lifetime - a chance to take down his brother's murder, and the dirty cop that framed him. The plan is simple; all he has to do is go undercover, and work his way through the ranks of the 5-10 until he gets to Shiv, and with Shiv comes the dirty cop for the authorities. It's a little loose, but it helps give some meaning to the various races and showdowns that take place across a map of the entire United States. You start the game in Detroit, but slowly spread your wings out to the other regions of the country - all of which can be driven to - as you go on the hunt for Shiv.

Outside of the story, The Crew includes just about everything you would expect from a racing game that's made by some of the same people that worked on Test Drive Unlimited. Like TDU, The Crew is an open world where you can choose to do whatever you want; whether it's racing through the story, jumping into challenges with other players that are driving around, or just taking in some of the sights. It's a balanced blend of story and freedom that works quite well, and should appeal to players no matter how they want to play the game. There are also quite a few social elements that are a big part of the game, like building the titular Crew to help you progress through the world as a team.

You can build out your own Crew on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PCs. There are a couple platforms missing from that list, but that was to keep the performance of the game as structured for the next gen experience as possible. In other words, PS3 owners - it's time to upgrade.

The Crew is one of those games that's a long term investment. It's next to impossible to blow through everything that this game has to offer in just a few days. Realistically, if you want to experience everything that The Crew has to offer, you're going to be playing it for weeks, or months even. To keep players satisfied Ivory Tower have crammed an abundance of content into this release: cars, missions, challenges, landmarks, upgrades, scavenger hunt items… everything. Even with all of that, the most important thing that The Crew has an overwhelming amount of is freedom. You can do whatever you want from coast to coast in this game, and that's an impressive feat for any game. If you're looking for a story-driven racing game this season, The Crew is a solid option, especially if you have your own crew to play with you.