The Crew 2 Preview — Racing on Land, Air, and Sea (PS4)
Earlier this year at E3 I got to play a very brief demo of The Crew 2. It showcased the racing game’s three types of vehicles (planes, boats and cars), but it was so short that I wasn’t really sold on what I had saw. Sure, it was cool driving around a virtual New York in all of these different vehicles, but would it have the staying power it needed? I wasn’t sure about that, but I recently got to go hands-on for a second time, and I’m pretty sold on what Ubisoft is offering up.
As I mentioned previously, the biggest feature that differentiates The Crew 2 from its predecessor is that players have a ton of options as to how they want to race. From piloting airplanes to riding a dirtbike, there are a ton of options to choose from. Switching between vehicles is super easy too, as the right analog stick can be used to automatically shift from a car to a plane or a boat without any load times. It’s amazing how a player can be speeding down the highway in a sports car one second, and then take flight without missing a beat.
Of course, this switching can be done for more silly purposes too. Want to drop a boat in the middle of a city? You can totally do that. It won’t be able to do much of anything without water, but you can just stare at all of the unhelpful computer controlled cars that seemingly don’t care that a boat is in the middle of the Bronx. I really enjoyed going from an airplane and trying to line it up so my car could drop a few hundred feet onto a street. Most of the time I missed my target and ran right into the wall of a building, but hey, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
While I was easily entertained by the antics I was getting up to in The Crew 2‘s open-world, I also was impressed by the variety of the actual races. The first race had me riding a motocross bike on a dirt track. This was a lot of fun as I was able to boost into jumps to make sure I could clear them, and take sharp corners to pass opponents. It probably won’t rival MXGP 3 in terms of courses, but as a fan of two-wheeled racing I came away impressed.
The next race was completely different, as I was racing a powerful car on an oval race track. This required a far different strategy compared to the winding turns of the dirt track I was just on, but the racing still felt great. I was really impressed with how no matter what vehicle The Crew 2 put me in, I was still able to adapt and have fun straightaway. I didn’t end up winning the race, but I had a good time nonetheless.
It’s not all about regular races, though, as the third event I participated in was a drift challenge in the streets of New York City. Here I was competing against another player to see who could score the most points while drifting around the city’s streets. While drifting requires some reckless driving, it’s also important to drive safely as a good drift doesn’t mean anything if it ends up with the player hitting a street bench. I learned this lesson the hard way, as there’s more of a learning curve to the drifting mechanics than the regular driving, but near the end of the event I had started to get a real handle on it. It was almost enough to comeback and win, but I had to settle for second place.
I didn’t do any races in the planes or boats, but I did drive both a solid amount. I enjoyed piloting the airplane the most, as players can earn points by doing tricks in the air and flying in-between buildings. Of course, this resulted in me crashing into a few buildings, but that’s why I don’t have a pilot’s license in real life. Boating is a more laidback affair, and mainly consists of finding waves to jumps off of. I was able to get some sick air, and depending on how I was pushing on the left analog stick, I was able to both get extra air or try to skim the waves in order to race faster. There seems to be a lot of depth to both of these styles, but as a beginner I only brushed the first layer of it.
Finally, I got to check out the game’s really cool replay feature. At any time the player can bring up a 3D map that shows what the player has been doing, complete with markings for when they were scoring a bunch of points. That means if they do something sweet, they can easily go back to that point and rewatch it. They can also share their results with friends. It’s really impressive how seamless the entire experience is, and watching my flight path as I did circular loops was really neat.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from The Crew 2, as I thought that switching between multiple vehicle types might be more of a gimmick than genuine innovation, but I came away really impressed. Shifting from an airplane to a boat while above the Statue of Liberty is hilarious, and the giant air that players can generate after doing such a drop is a ton of fun to watch. It’s not just goofiness, though, as all three driving types were fun to compete in during races. No matter what you’re looking for, The Crew 2 should be able to scratch that racing itch when it releases next year.
The Crew 2 preview conducted at PAX West 2017.