The Crew 2 is the latest vehicular racing game from developer Ivory Tower. The game has a huge open world that encourages free roaming and exploration in real recreations of various locations across the United States. The Crew 2 is less of a sequel and more of a remake as it takes its predecessor and expands on it by adding new event types and vehicles including planes and boats.
The Crew 2 is a racing game, and with almost all racing games there is very little story and the small amount of narrative it does have is typical of its genre. It is set up as a live TV racing event and you are a rookie driver who is trying to make it big in the racing world. The story does not really add much to the game other than structure. Although you get to choose and customise your character, you are unnamed and have no dialogue. You meet a few different characters on your journey through the game but these are unimportant and forgetful and are again just there to provide structure.
The game features four different racing disciplines which are split up into ‘families’; Street Racing, Off-Road, Free Style, and Pro Racing. Within each family there are different event types that you unlock as you progress. The race events include your standard car, bike, plane, and boat races; drag races, which uses a different control scheme to normal driving; and stunt events. Skill events include challenges like escaping, slaloms, and speed traps. Also included are photography challenges which are completed by exploring the world and taking pictures in various locations with landmarks and wildlife. They can be quite difficult to search for, especially if you’re new to the map, but if a photo opportunity is nearby you receive a notification. Completing activities contributes to your overall progression in each racing discipline and once you complete 75% of that discipline you unlock the ultimate challenge where you are given the chance to face off against the family’s champion.
Your driver rank is measured by ‘popularity’. Completing challenges and winning races rewards you with followers which increase your popularity and unlock more events. The default difficulty for events is normal but switching to hard offers more followers and money, which you will need lots of to buy new vehicles. Most races also reward you with modifications for your vehicles. You can buy upgrades for your engine, exhaust, tyres, breaks, but the modifications cannot be bought and can only be obtained as way of reward or by finding them on the map.
The game is constantly online and you will find yourself bumping into other players as you explore the map. Up to three other players can join your session to participate in events or explore the map alongside you but this is as far as it goes. Unfortunately, you cannot compete against these players or even random online players which leaves the whole multiplayer experience feeling non-existent and pointless.
The gameplay itself is very good with each vehicle type having its own unique feel and each race type having pros and cons. The open world isn’t just used for exploring, it follows you into races which at times can be troublesome, especially during off-road races. The game does offer directional markers at corners and checkpoints but at high speeds on uneven surfaces these can become difficult to see leaving you unclear on the correct route. Since there is no fixed route you can ignore the markers and drive straight across the landscape in the direction of the finish line but doing this does not give you much of an advantage and can lead you to dead ends or even cause you to get stuck in the middle of a lake, for example. Staying close to the ghost car you race against is by far the easiest way to follow the best racing route.
The map is very big and very diverse, and while you are encouraged to explore there is little incentive to do so as you can fast travel to every event in any location. The graphics and sound are very good. The game offers a great soundtrack that adds to the fun and the graphics look great holding up in every location, weather condition, and time of day.
The Crew 2 is your typical racing game that combines a good variety of events across different vehicle types. The huge map looks great graphically and the diverse environments make driving long distances fun and interesting. The game is technically a multiplayer game but the way it is at the moment it may as well be single player. It works very well this way and is great for jumping in and out of, but major updates are needed to the multiplayer mode. Overall it is a very fun game that offers plenty of smooth gameplay.