Written by James ‘Judge’ Hayward
The CREW 2: Beta
After being pretty excited about the ‘The Crew’s’ sequel, the beta was very disappointing. I will, however, begin on a good note. The opening sequence gave players a chance to try out racing on 3 different fronts and the transition between each one was pretty unique.
From 7 minutes 40 seconds into the video you can see the transition from street racing to boat racing, then again to aerial competition at 9 minutes 20, and frankly I thought it was brilliant. It looks like a scene out of Inception, or Dr Strange. A nice little hook that I looked forward to seeing more of. Pushing my blunder at the early stages of the street race aside (you can clearly see me looking for the restart button! But it is much simpler, just hold down triangle), the controls were pretty easy to handle. The Crew has never been a racing simulator like Gran Turismo or Forza, but a blend of driving and socialising at its finest. I was ready to dive into this mish-mash again.
Photo Opportunity! Photo mode on this game allows players to savor their favourite moments in-game. There is a large editing arsenal complete with tilting, zoom, brightness, increase or decrease a blur effect, or colorize with numerous variations. It is also a chance to gain more followers and progress in status. That is essentially how you unlock more events – by becoming popular.
The end product setting quite a beautiful scene. As well as this, players can get creative in the shop and customise their selected car with the livery editor. These two devices are probably the best qualities in the game.
On the other hand, without these effects, the surroundings on their own are pretty bleak.
It sees too desolate. I remember The Crew 1 having a similar problem but, back in 2014 of it’s release, the vastness of the map alone was much more appreciated. A game at this price is expected to demonstrate strong visuals as standard. The sound effects is another quality that seemed lacking in this beta. No crunching of metal, nor shattering of windows, objects on the street just move over the car as you drive into them. I’m expecting bits and pieces to crash over the windscreen but no, nothing.
Instead we are just given this dull thud as heaving vehicle slams into what seems to be an impenetrable fortress. My point is, it takes away any immersion the game might have. It really disrupted the experience. To add to this, vehicles often disappeared…
‘CHOOSE YOUR RISING STAR’. The Crew 2 gives players presets to choose from with quotes attached to each. I expected to be able to edit, or build on these presets once I made my choice. That wasn’t the case. Are the quotes meant to be profound and add depth to the dull husks provided? I had no bond with my character at all. But it is a driving game, why do you feel the need to bond with the character? It is about what you are driving, not who is driving it. Fair enough. But why bother having the character selection at the beginning at all if that is the case? Why have the NPCs speak directly to the player? Furthermore, players can actually walk around camps to test drive other vehicles and access new vehicles from the shop, when you have unlocked the new discipline. All these factors build up surroundings that feel like they should be explored, interacted with, but without the actual vessel capable of doing so.
This here is my favourite…
The sunlight looks pretty good. Otherwise you can see the repetition in objects, the three men wandering aimlessly round, not to mention they are completely identical AND they disappear just like the car in the earlier video. It just doesn’t promote any confidence in the full game.
Finally, the emphasis on Fast Swapping in and out of vehicles on the fly. This isn’t a new feature but exactly the same as in the first installment. Both clips are from different games. Both displaying the Fast Swap between vehicles.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a fantastic feature and makes life so much easier. No loading, no driving back to the garage to swap cars – it is brilliant. For those new to The Crew it needs to be explained, sure. But it isn’t new and it doesn’t get my praise, nor does it warrant 54 quid.
Ubisoft store has the game available for preorder starting at £54.99, and this is the standard edition. You can purchase the Motor Edition for £84.99, which includes 3 days early access and a season pass, a physical ‘The Crew 2’ licence plate, and everything that the Gold edition has to offer.
Despite the appeal for collectors, I would argue that Ivory Tower has not developed a good enough experience to earn the trust of the consumer, based on the beta, to warrant an extra 30 quid for future content, whatever that may be. I understand that this is just the beta, and the full product remains to be seen. But the beta was accessible June 21st and the game is released for early access June 26th – that is tomorrow. So we have a taste of the end product, that is certain.
The bottom line is that there is far too little effort for AAA pricing and far too little time now to make the changes needed to give players a good experience. The Crew 2 may interest some who enjoy racing and want something a little more relaxed than a racing simulator, but for a big fan of the first game, expecting the next level, perhaps a little ingenuity, I have absolutely no desire to purchase the full game. I urge those interested to read a review of the full game before making their final decision.