Available on PS4, Xbox One and PC June 29
The Crew was a very serious version of open-world racing. While that was not the worst idea in the world, it left Ubisoft's ambitious project somewhat dry. Sure, you could drive around the United States in a series of different cars, but the game lacked personality. This is the big change when it comes to the sequel, as expected The Crew 2.
In the same way that Watch Dogs 2 tried to have fun with what it presented, the developer Ivory Tower has become ridiculous by austerity – and it's a welcome change.
Focusing on the idea of amassing followers, because that is the era in which we live, everything you do in The Crew 2 builds your reputation, with the general objective of becoming a viral sensation. The more you know, the more disciplines and racing styles you can unlock: it is an expected progression system, simply centered on a concept that everyone is familiar with. Break the world of social networks and the rewards are waiting for you.
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It's fair to say that this may be a bit too much sometimes, since the "super cool" continue to throw buzzwords on you. Ultimately, however, this is just background noise. It's the race itself where things really stand out, and in this sense The Crew 2 looks a lot nicer than its predecessor.
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Naturally, this is greatly helped by the fact that in addition to cars, you now also have boats and planes to abuse. Not only does it break the rhythm of the game, it also requires a different set of skills than you have when you are at the wheel of a Lamborghini. Since the map here is huge, it is intimidating at the limit when you first see it, the content will not be one of the problems of The Crew 2. There is so much to do here, it could probably last for years.
However, all this would be in vain if it could not meet expectations. Fortunately, this is not the case. In particular, driving feels vastly improved, filling a void that seems to have been absent from the genre for some time. While Forza and Gran Turismo continue to insist on the simulation approach of racing, The Crew 2 is more Forza Horizon in what it wants, and in that sense it is wonderful. You still need to spend time learning how to drive each car, and getting carried away too much will usually see you crashing into a nearby wall, but it becomes extremely satisfying after a while; Taking a corner like a professional can result in a real rush.
It gets better, too, thanks to the way Ubisoft has established the environment with disciplines like street racing. As each track is within the open world, there is no barrier. You have signal points, of course, but if you make a mistake and stray from the course, just keep flying forward. You're still fucked up in terms of winning the race, but it's refreshing not just to race on some bricks and it requires a completely different mentality.
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The different styles will change this, especially if you opt for some touring car competition, but it is certainly the highlight of The Crew 2; and the more you progress, the better it gets. Calling it an arcade runner seems a bit unfair, but it's incredibly fun and much more interested in letting yourself get carried away by the most impressive part of racing than worrying about the team you're on.
As for the ships and planes, the enjoyment is still there, but the experience is not as clear as in a car. They are not bad at any moment of the imagination, and there are so many variants within each one that you are likely to find one with which you get more, but it gave me the feeling of wanting to drive. Anything else felt more like a distraction.
However, it is a good addition as it breaks the nature of the beast: if you get bored of the four wheels, then there are options, and that is important. Without it, exhaustion, without a word game, would be too extreme.
There are also all the usual elements, such as the ability to update everything you have as the difficulty increases, and even driving around the world without any objective can be beneficial. Apart from the fact that you can change vehicles on the fly, so if you just want to fly to the skies on an airplane, that's more than possible at the touch of a button, there are dozens of challenges ranging from speed traps to simply taking photos of specific areas.
If a sequel pretends to take the original idea and expand it as much as possible, The Crew 2 seems to have marked many of the boxes to achieve it.
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Add persistent leaderboards, which means that you essentially always compete with both your friends and the entire universe, and Ivory Tower can be into something here. Tonally you can rub some people the wrong way, but letting that discourage you would be crazy.
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If you're looking for a broker who does not take himself too seriously, but also puts time where it counts, The Crew 2 could be it It certainly has the potential.