Squandered Potential In A Lacklustre Sequel
With more vehicle types to drive than before, an expansive map detailing the entire topography of the United States and a ton of races to compete in, The Crew 2 has all the ingredients to be a great racing game. Unfortunately Ubisoft’s massive open world racer feels like a shallow sequel; a game as wide as an ocean but as deep as a puddle making for quite the underwhelming experience.
After completing a prelude race where you’re introduced to the various different vehicles you’ll be racing with, the game begins with you choosing a custom character and thrust headfirst into The Crew 2’s massive world. From here, you choose between 4 different disciplines to race with – street racing, off-road rally time trials, stunt flying in a plane and boat races. While the game promises you can pursue one discipline for the duration or playing, in truth you’ll find yourself jumping between different vehicles and play-styles throughout your journey with this expansive game.
Racing can be fun but AI riders are pretty poor
The Crew 2 features a whole host of cars and vehicles to use with each one feeling distinctly different to handle. Muscle cars have a bulky weight to them making them difficult to steer but quick on acceleration, rally cars have good handling but aren’t overly quick while boats and planes play exactly as you’d expect these vehicles to handle. Each vehicle type boasts a speed boost by holding down X (including planes) to help give a welcome injection of speed as you whizz along the tarmac and dirt roads. As you play through numerous races, more vehicles open up with customisation options relying on a loot-drop system to boost certain attributes. We’ve mentioned before about our disdain for loot boxes and microtransactions in Triple A games and their implementation here certainly takes away from the experience, reducing the progression system to a game of chance rather than meaningful upgrades taking away control over your vehicle’s look and performance.
Boats and planes handle exactly as you’d expect and help bolster out the number of races
Tying all these races together is a loosely connected story about gaining social media followers and becoming the most popular racer in the world. Winning races, performing stunts and driving at top speed all accumulate points which in turn are transformed into followers which boost your ranking and give you more money to buy more vehicles for your garage. From here you rise up the ranks from an unknown rookie to a world famous star, eventually becoming the best racer in the world. It’s a simple progression system, albeit a little uninspired, but it’s hindered somewhat by the distribution of points which is completely skewed and questionable at best. Performing 5 flips in quick succession in the air with a plane gains more followers than coming fourth in a tough race. It’s design decisions like this that make The Crew 2 unpolished and a game in desperate need of balancing. This is only further emphasised by how long it takes to level up too; expect to spend hours upon hours grinding through races and activities to level up the ranks.
The dynamic day/night cycle makes the world feel alive
Speaking of polish, The Crew 2 is one of those strange games that’s both absolutely gorgeous and horrendous at the same time. With a dynamic day/night cycle and weather changes, driving along and seeing the world physically change around you as you listen to the rock-fused soundtrack is an absolute joy to behold. The distant twilight reflecting shades of orange and red on the horizon, sunlight reflecting off puddles on the road after it’s been raining and seeing other human racers zooming past you all give the feeling of a beautifully recreated American landscape. When you slow down or stop the car, the aesthetic cracks can be seen behind the beautiful facade. Pop-in is a constant issue, bystanders and AI racers are abysmal at best, physics are incredibly unrealistic (expect wooden crates and pallets to fly through the air if you tap them gently) and the lack of visible damage on cars is a real disappointment. All of this, coupled with lacklustre snow and sand effects, make every beautiful moment in The Crew 2 dampened with an equal amount of disappointment. The game has glimmers of brilliance but its problems are hard to ignore with such an expansive world and how long you’ll be expected to play through this one.
As can be expected from a modern Ubisoft game, expect hundreds of activities and races to compete in throughout your stay in this virtually recreated America. From speeding through Speed Traps to snapping photos of specific places across the world, The Crew 2 is full to the brim with things to do in between racing. As you play through and unlock more races, even more activities open up but thankfully the dynamic mini-map can be tweaked to only show the races and disciplines you want to compete in which is a nice touch.
Corkscrews and other tricks in a plane give more points than coming fourth in a race
The Crew 2 certainly has its enjoyable moments but it’s dampened time and time again by questionable design decisions and mediocre gameplay. While The Crew 2 certainly improves over its predecessor, the game is riddled with issues and feels more of a chore to play through than it realistically should. There are some beautiful moments here and at times the racing can be fun, it’s just a shame that The Crew 2 squanders its potential by providing an average, emotionless driving game in desperate need of some polish.
Verdict - 5/10