Screenshot of The Crew Game Cover

What is The Crew?

The Crew is an online racing videogame released in 2014 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Published by Ubisoft and developed by them in partnership with Ivory Tower it was one of the most popular racing games of the year. Praised for the complex world design, it was initially plagued by several glitches. The game required several updates and micro-transactions were introduced later on. The popularity of the game prompted developers to work on an expansion, which was released in 2015. It goes by the name of The Crew: Wild Run and the new one called The Crew: Calling All Units is pending release.

Key facts about The Crew

  • The Crew bears some similarities to massively multiplayer online role-playing games.
  • As a racing game, it is one of the biggest, with huge maps and an immense universe to explore.
  • The Crew is rich in racing content and there are many additional features that players can unlock.
  • The AI was surprisingly strong right from the start and got even better with each update.
  • The Crew emphasizes the importance of economy and racing is just one of the facets of the game.

Gameplay of The Crew

The Crew has a persistent and open world that players can explore at leisure. Divided into five main regions: The Midwest, East Coast, The South, Mountain States and West Coast it encourages exploration. In each area, there are several major cities featured, and more than 30 smaller ones. Driving from coast to coast in real-time will require players to spend nearly one hour, but there are plenty of shortcuts.

The Crew gameplay is heavily influenced by the sheer magnitude of the maps and the side quests available. Players learn the ropes by completing the single player campaign which is roughly 20 hours long. In terms of gameplay, players enjoy a lot of freedom and can pursue different objectives without following a linear path. Compared to Need for Speed games, it also relies more on story and characters.

In multiplayer, the game shines brightly, with up to eight players competing in various races. In the absence of any pauses and in game loading screens, action unfolds and a faster pace. Those who want to hone their skills can also participate in challenges that are scattered all over the world. This also presents them with an impetus to explore the surroundings instead of dwelling exclusively on one city or area.

Screenshot of The Crew Racing Beasts
Screenshot of The Crew Racing Beasts

Plot of The Crew

The Crew story has Alex Taylor at its cornerstone, with the character trying to evade law enforcement in Detroit. He teams up with Harry, who provides him with a car and gets together with Dayton, his older brother. As the founder of a motor club, he deals with many shady individuals and one day he gets shot. Alex is charged and convicted of his murder and sentenced to prison, as cops think that he is the perpetrator. Action resumes five years later, when he is released from prison to help the FBI.

Alex wants to use this opportunity to infiltrate the motor club and shed some light on the incidents that caused his brother’s death. As players complete various missions, they move up the hierarchy and encounter new and more dangerous characters. FBI agent Zoe Winters is watching Alex’s every move while he claims new territory from his rivals. Gameplay mechanics are all focusing on outshining AI controlled opponents and conquering their land.

Different missions in every city and zone

Players move from one city to the other and eventually cover all the main zones in the game. Some of the most intense confrontations occur in New York, where Alex is reunited with Harry. After completing his mission here, he moved to Miami, where he runs into even tougher opponents before finally departing for Las Vegas. The missions are different enough to keep players entertained and you don’t get the feeling of replaying the same scenario over and over again.

As Alex tries to gather more information about Coburn and feed it to his handlers in the FBI, the plot thickens. Eventually he finds a way to set the trap and Coburn is finally captured by the FBI and arrested. In the final chapter of the storyline, Alex travels to Los Angeles, to compete with the best drivers. With the assistance of Vincent, a former pro racer, he manages to emerge victorious from each challenge. Shiv doesn’t make life easy for him and the stage is set for a confrontation between them.

Screenshot of The Crew Dragsters
Screenshot of The Crew Dragsters

Development of The Crew

The Crew development took a while and brought together a lot of professionals from several companies. Ubisoft was the lead developer and experts from several countries worked on this project. They use Babel as video game engine, but this was heavily modified by Ivory Tower. In the end, the mix of proprietary tools and original game engine delivered the results players were expecting. The close beta was only released in July 2014, and players had the chance to test the game further in November that year

The emphasis was on improving The Crew gameplay, while offering the best graphics possible. Joseph Trapanese composed the soundtrack, which was widely regarded on the best in any racing game. Initially plagued by some technical glitches, the videogame was later on regarded as a big hit. The development team managed to meet the deadline, but several updates and patches were needed to have it run smoothly.

Where can I download The Crew?

Ubisoft’s website is the place where players should head on if they want to download The Crew. These guys have developed and published some amazing titles over the last couple of years, so there are other games to consider. Few of them are racing games, but players who are willing to try something different won’t be disappointed. Tom Clancy's The Division, Watch Dogs, Far Cry Primal, Assassin’s Creed Unity, South Park The Fractured But Whole and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 are some alternatives.

What are others saying about The Crew?

The Crew reviews were a mixed bunch, mostly because players had different expectations. Some were hoping this videogame to be a Need for Speed game on steroids. Others were counting on a better narrative, in a game that also introduces elements, and in MMORPGs. In any case, both critics and fans were impressed with the immense world promoted by this game. At the same time, nobody was happy with the technical issues affecting mostly the online gameplay.

Screenshot of The Crew Drift
Screenshot of The Crew Drift

The developers knew right from the start that they will be using micro-transactions to make the game profitable. This decision was received with skepticism by many people who found them to be simply too complicated. Overall, aggregating review websites painted the game in a positive light and it got high average scores. One thing that prevented it from surging even higher was the mediocre AI and the convoluted story. The narrative was regarded by some as the weakest element of the game.

The Crew took customization to the next level and allowed players to breathe new life into their vehicles. A high number of upgrades possible and the car purchasing system made the game more exciting for those who spent long hours working on their cars. The absence of serious competitors, allow the developers to brag about creating the best open world racing game. This was met with criticism from those who found the country depicted by the videogame as rather empty.

My rating of The Crew

I grew up with racing video games, but somewhere down the road I lost interest almost completely for the genre. I always felt that each installment failed to bring something new to the table and was simply a better looking version of its predecessor. The Crew was supposed to be something different and for a big fan of MMORPGs, it showed a lot of promise. I was initially impressed by the sheer size of the playground and the high number of characters. Interacting with them however was less exciting.

If you want to roam freely and explore every corner of this huge world envisioned by The Crew, you will enjoy spending time here. Those who prefer a story driven title shouldn’t set their expectations too high because they will be disappointed. There are plenty of clichés and some missions feel like they lack soul and make it virtual impossible to relate to the characters. The Crew can be a fun pastime, but it fails to become truly addictive despite all its customization. A review score of 7 out of 10 might be infuriatingly low for the fans and unjustifiably high for its detractors. In any case, I stand behind this rating.

Overall Score