So throughout the week, here at E3, I've had a chance to look at a few racing titles and have been impressed at what's been presented. Some of the major companies have returned with newer installments of titles that have become popular over the years. There has also been a great showing of smaller and less recognized companies ushering in their own games to the genre, creating just as strong of a buzz.
Now, more than ever, the importance of not just creating the newest model of game, but doing many of the same things better. Need for Speed has boasted about its open-world capabilities and what it does for the online community. So it's no surprise that, in my hands-on demo with The Crew, the immediate focus was on its open world as well. Actually, The Crew could be just a step above the rest, mostly because of the sheer size of its world. It's massive.
The premise of The Crew is to race around the United States beating challenges and earning as many points as possible. These points will be banked into your own personal pot that then turns into cash to spend on modifications to your cars, boosting certain attributes and adding better parts. It's entirely online and persistent. No more needing to wait at a load-up screen for players to join or become ready. Just pull up to a designated race marker and punch it.
One of the concepts behind the game is to keep the gameplay flee-flowing with little downtime. Sure, you don't always want to be engaged in a race, so if you want, it's fine just to drive around and check out your current city; all of which are, to no surprise, modeled after real-to-life cities. That, I must say, is one of the best features of the game. Driving through New York you'll ride past downtown, maybe hop on the Brooklyn, and you won't stop until you get to Florida. I'm sure once I get my hands on the full copy later next year, I'll drive from coast to coast (in pieces, for it takes roughly a few hours to achieve this).
Visually, most of the game is very nice to look at -- one of the better titles in the race sim genre -- from the cities to the cars. With so many titles to compete with, every small detail makes a difference. Another feature that's heavy in detail is the full customization of vehicles. Take your favorite Lamborghini and kit it out with huge dirt wheels, throw a bare bumper on the front, and hit the backroads.
The custom kitting reminds me of a cross between Transformers and Power Rangers. But nothing seems cartoony, a problem a game like this would want to avoid. It could completely take away from what you would want out of the graphics and theme, but so far so good. Some elements even call for some dramatics, like when cars plow through stationary objects such as a beach lifeguard post or running right over a suntanning beach-goer.
There are loads and loads to do in The Crew. With modes like multiplayer, solo missions, and plenty of challenges, one could spend years still finding new areas to explore. Don't be fooled, as it's still a work in progress, but Ubisoft has a silent killer in its hands. The Crew will release in early 2014 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.