It’s safe to say that The Crew 2 is a very different game compared to its predecessor.
The first major difference is obvious if you’ve so much as glanced at any screenshots from the game: it’s no longer concerned with just cars. The Crew 2 is now all about the thrill of motor sports, whether they take place on land, sea or air. It’s the only game I’ve played where I can follow up a street race with some aerobatics, and then throw a monster truck around what is essentially a playground. All in all, The Crew 2 sports more than 10 competitive disciplines, each one wildy different from the last. And while one or two disciplines don’t perhaps feel quite as good as they should, overall the game is a triumph.
Get some discipline
Discarding the Fast & Furious-style story of the first game, The Crew 2 casts you as an up-and-coming racer who wants to make it big. Honestly, you’ll probably wish that the few story scenes that there are didn’t exist thanks to the awful voice acting, but thankfully they’re not too intrusive. For the most part, The Crew 2 is happy with just giving you access to a massive open world; allowing you to go where you want, when you want, to do what you want. And thanks to the massive selection of vehicles that are available, that always results in fun.
Initially there are only four disciplines available to you. Complete the trial for each one and you’ll unlock a new vehicle along with a gameplay feature or two. From there, it’s all about the fans; you’re a nobody without them, after all. Completing events in each of the four disciplines will win more people over, and so too does pulling off crazy stunts and completing activities in the open world. Earn enough fans and you’ll reach a milestone, becoming famous rather than simply being popular, for example, and along with it you’ll unlock new disciplines and yet more events.
Is there such a thing as too big?
Overall there are over 100 events available, and making your through them will take a considerable amount of time even though they rarely put up much of a challenge. Finishing in the top three is usually enough to succeed; there are no additional rewards for finishing first. This new ‘done or not done’ approach also applies to the game’s activities which are spread across the map, such as speed traps. You’re no longer graded on your performance; you simply complete the activity or you don’t. You don’t get anything extra for speeding past a camera at over 200 mph when you only needed to hit 118 mph.
This new approach, along with the fact that there are genuinely less random activities spread across The Crew 2‘s map, can make the game feel sparse at times. The Crew 2 probably has just as much content as any of its competitors, such as Need for Speed or Forza Horizon, but the sheer size of its map means that it’s spread thinly. Over time that will undoubtedly change; new events, activities and disciplines are set to added every few months or so. For now, however, many players will prefer to tackle events and suchlike by fast-travelling to them.
For many players, The Crew 2 will really feel like it’s just beginning when others see their journey at an end. Like its predecessor, The Crew 2 features an RPG-like upgrade system for your vehicles. Successfully complete an event and you’ll acquire some loot, which is pretty much guaranteed to improve the performance of the vehicles on which they can be equipped. You’ll sometimes pick up new visual customisations too, though they can also be bought. Get your vehicles up to the required spec and then you can attempt to replay events at hard difficulty. You’ll be expected to finish first rather than just in the top three, but the rewards are greatly increased, making them lucrative for those wishing to become racing icons.
While The Crew very much felt like a multiplayer game that you could play by yourself if you wanted to, The Crew 2 feels very much the opposite. In fact, only co-op multiplayer is supported at the moment, with PvP planned to arrive later this year. The multiplayer bent of the first game has instead seemingly been replaced with the ability to share your hair-raising moments. A robust photo mode allows you to freeze time and capture that perfect shot, for example, while live replay functionality allows you to sit back and watch that crazy stunt you just did time and time again. You can even edit your videos on the fly.
A total Kodak moment
Taking photos is now actually an intrinsic part of The Crew 2‘s gameplay, with photo opportunities popping up as you explore the world. You might be tasked with taking a photo of you overtaking another car at a race track, for instance, or even taking a photo of a vehicle perched atop a pyramid in Las Vegas. They’re fun, rewarding, and often challenging to complete, making The Crew 2‘s photo ops a surprisingly enjoyable addition, and there are plenty of them to seek out.
As I stated at the outset then, The Crew 2 is a very different game to what many were probably expecting, including myself. If you were expecting The Crew 2 to essentially be the same as its predecessor but with more vehicle types, you might be disappointed with what’s on offer; while its massive open world map feels more explorable and detailed than ever, it’s not as densely packed with activities to complete as you explore. Additionally, its online features have also been massively dialled back. Those who just want a varied dose of arcade racing and a wide open world to simply explore for fun, however, will find it equally entertaining. Perhaps even more so if they prefer single-player experiences.
Variety > Content
There are some minor problems. The handling of MX bikes and powerboats can feel a bit twitchy, making the events you use them in a bit of a handful. And poor visibility and overzealous rubber-banding can occasionally ruin an otherwise perfect race. But none of The Crew 2‘s issues detract a great deal from the fact that most of the time it’s an absolute pleasure to play. Driving a souped-up car around America is fun in itself, and you can change your vehicle at any time you want without having to visit a garage or safe house. And when you want to tackle an event or activity, you can do so both easily and seamlessly.
The Crew 2 is all about the joy of racing and exploring a world in anything that has an engine, much like Steep is all about the joy of experiencing the great outdoors across multiple disciplines. It has less events than its predecessor at the outset but more will be added, and the events it does have provide much more variety. Honestly, I got bored of doing the same old thing in time and time again with The Crew, but The Crew 2 left me wanting more. And which game will I be going back to time and time again from now on? The Crew 2.
Adrenaline-pumping experiences is what The Crew 2 is all about, and while cars can provide them I’ve found that nothing beats piloting a plane through a dense forest. Though you might find that racing F1 cars on an actual track or throwing a monster truck around a halfpipe is more enjoyable. Basically, no matter what floats your boat, there’s a good chance that The Crew 2 has it. And that’s why I can’t help but love it. Warts and all.