The Crew PS4 Review
I guess it is pretty damning when I come away from a game with little to no idea what to say about my time with it. Usually there is a part that gets under my skin, or an interesting moment that stands out worth writing about. Almost always there is one thing, that sometimes can be very small, that is worth latching onto, and with that I can scrawl some nonsense about it for at least two or three paragraphs before needing a large coffee. The sad fact is The Crew made me feel nothing. As I lost hours of playtime I certainly was not happy with the game, but I was not getting mad about it either. Crucially, I cannot say I fell somewhere in the middle of those two choices – that would be too easy. If I was in that mindset I would at least be able to label The Crew average, and this opening paragraph would have been fit for purpose.
Sorry about that by the way.
I believe what I am struggling to say is that The Crew lacks soul. All the various bits and pieces of a modern day racing game are here to greet players. That multipart jigsaw has been put together by someone who knows what they are doing too, and on the surface it works as intended. Now, I may applaud myself after putting a set of flatpack furniture together, but I have grown to expect more from the games I play. At a brief glance, there is nothing glaringly wrong with The Crew. I’ll admit I was optimistically hopeful as I passed my first hour of playtime with the game. However with further progress, it started to become clear the game is a hollow shell with little substance deeper down. Or a bit of flatpack furniture with a drawer that sticks inexplicably on a non-existent something when pulled out. I am going to run that metaphor into the ground dammit.
One of the more grating reasons for my aggravation is that a huge portion of the content that The Crew asks you to partake in is of lesser quality than initially implied. The main storyline itself is a totally forgetful, yet horrible highlight worth mentioning. It tells a heartfelt tale of a guy who shot another guy and no one watching really cared. It is really hard to muster up feelings when the core plotline is senseless fluff that even the dulcet tones of Troy Baker cannot help improve. But it’s the range of playable events that end up more damaging to the game’s appeal than anything else. Particularly vexing are takedown events – a mini version of what was once so loved in the Burnout games. These instantly reminded me why Burnout was so damn good, because here they are so damn bad.
What’s worse is that some of the few entertaining events are incessantly repeated. So much so that any entertainment they once had is soon wrung dry as they pop up ad nauseam in various different corners of the world map. Sure, repetition is bound to happen in racing games, but the problem is shockingly egregious here. I should not forget to mention that the many lesser events are similarly repeated – occurring near enough times to generate a black hole of unhappiness. The clincher in all of this, is that even after playing events I liked, I was not enjoying what I was getting in return. Sure, the screen was telling me I was levelling up, and getting a +3 part to add to my car, but I felt I was wasting my time, and playing the game quickly degenerated into feeling like a chore.
As previously mentioned, The Crew boasts a world map full to the brim with things to do, see and collect. This is becoming an all too familiar norm for Ubisoft labeled games, right? The “climb tower to reveal map” mechanic is even on show too – but at least in a way that makes sense when confined to traversal on four wheels. One quick glance at that map, and it instantly hits home there are lots of sights to see in The Crew – the length and breadth of a misshapen America in fact. That totals just under an hour of drivetime to go east to west – not accurate to the the real world, but an impressive total for a game. Being an Irish native, I may not be the right person to report in on the accuracy of what lies between the coasts. I go to Wakko to learn the 50 states afterall. But everything I saw was very well put together though. The vastness of the geometry on show is the most impressive feature of the game by far. But the previously documented problems put a massive dent in that one plus point.
The fact that my dislike for The Crew snuck up on me so quickly was somewhat shocking. Like I said, I think it’s a well put together game in places, but in so many other crucial areas it is lacking. For a game that offers a whole continent as its virtual playground, its limitation start to appear far too soon. Thinking back, the first hour of the game brought hope. But even by the second I was asking questions. Hour three brought the realisation that the game lacks in all important areas that matter. From there, it starts to become evident horrible mistakes were made at the game’s core – so much so that they become an obstacle to anyone’s will to progress beyond that point. The Crew is a game happy to make loud noises to tell you how well you are doing, but does little else to back it up.
Right before sitting down to write this review, I wanted to put in a bit more time with the game. I started it up, and was soon met by the game’s large imposing map screen that, even after hours of play, was still filled with things to do and places to see. Modern day gaming expects that I should be excited at just the sheer thought of all these options. I should be happy to do what the screen tells me to do, then get excited because an on-screen number spools a few digits higher. Then maybe, just maybe, I should pee a bit in excitement at the thought of doing it all again. The Crew however lacks that indistinguishable something that other games sitting in the same genre have in spades, and without it my urge to play the game quickly dwindled to being almost nonexistent.
Because of that crucial omission, that was the last time I ever play The Crew. When the great void of the map greeted me for that final time, I just shrugged my shoulders and mouthed “why,” before turning the console off. I’ve never been so happy to be able to move onto something else in my life.