Game Backlog Update #6
Once again I’ve been whittling away at my “Games I Wasted Money On…” list. Here’s my take on Ubisoft’s open world (yes another one) racing game, The Crew.
I have to admit, I’m not a massive fan of racing games in general. I often find them impenetrable and my interest usually wanes within a couple of hours. With that said, however, there have been a few exceptions that have kept me playing for longer, but such titles have been few and far between.
Despite being one of the weakest racing games that I’ve spent a good deal of time with, there’s a therapeutic, almost meditative quality to The Crew that’s hard not to appreciate. Driving down long stretches of road as the scenery gradually changed from snowy mountains to dusty plains was surprisingly soothing.
This is perhaps the only empty sandbox that actually benefits from being empty. The map is absurdly large. It’s basically a condensed version of the United States, and the lack of interesting activities leaves you free to drive around all of its tourist hotspots without any interruptions. There are activities that you can take part in along the way, usually skill games designed to test your high-speed handling, but they are entirely optional.
Does the idea of drifting round Manhattan appeal to you? Have you ever wanted to drive a muscle car along Route 66? Or blaze through the Nevada desert with Las Vegas twinkling on the horizon? You can do all of this and more without the usual distractions of open world games.
Visuals are usually scaled back for games as large as this, but The Crew somehow manages to maintain a pleasing veneer – as long as you keep your foot on the accelerator. The scenery looks fine while it’s whizzing past your windows, but once you slow down to enjoy the view the textures take a nosedive.
There’s only so many times you can drive along empty highways and coast from city to city before it gets boring. Eventually I felt like I had to at least attempt the story missions and races. Unfortunately this is where The Crew falters. The story is painfully uninteresting, even for a racing game. The only reason I persevered with it for as long as I did was because I wanted the car upgrades that were offered as prizes, but even those lost their appeal after a while.
In the end it was the allure of the American road trip that held my interest. I eventually abandoned all of the activities in favour of just driving with no destination in mind. It was the journey that held my attention. Driving through different cities, each with their own unique architecture and scenery, and through the vast stretches of countryside in between was the only reason I kept coming back.
If, like me, you enjoy trundling down long highways, unzipping the scenery all the way to the horizon, then The Crew is for you. If, however, you’re looking for a more traditional racing experience, then you would be better off looking elsewhere.