The quality of the racing is generally pretty good, with decent-enough AI and some excellent course and road design. However, whilst the initial load to the start line is very quick, you have to endure a much, much longer wait whilst the game loads in the AI and checkpoints, which is pretty frustrating. The game also doesn’t do rubber-banding very well, so whilst the AI will normally stick a few seconds behind you, if you make a mistake, they’ll have no qualms about building up an unassailable lead. And with no rewinds, an awful reset to track feature and races which are just a little bit too long to want to do again (about 4-5 minutes is the average), you’ll probably just take whatever reward the game gives you before moving onto the next objective. It’s also a shame there are no cop chases at all, which is a surprise removal of one of the better features of the first game. There’s a lot to see and do, including a relatively lengthy end-game, but I can see many players getting bored before they see the credits roll, let alone before they reach ‘icon level 50’.
The Crew 2 is supposed to be all about the online play. So it’s amazing to find out that competitive play isn’t in the final game, nor will it be available until Christmas time. If you play with others now, then you play co-op, which just makes the game stupidly easy as only one person needs to reach the objective for everyone to win. Additionally, you can go into free-roam, but with only 7 other players per instance and the whole of America to drive across, the chances of actually meeting anyone are completely minimal. It’s just a bit of a waste…
The Crew 2 is absolutely spectacular in terms of the visuals. It’s one of, if not the most impressive looking game I have ever played. It’s all the more impressive that you can so easily shift between land, water and air vehicles so seamlessly as well. America is clearly very condensed, but this is still a huge map that takes well over 30 minutes to drive from coast to coast, with a huge amount of visual variety, plenty of sweeping vistas and some really excellent lighting effects. On top of this, the cars look significantly better than in the first game – still not quite as good as Forza or GT, but close. The game also runs in beautiful 4K and is very smooth in terms of frame-rate.
Unsurprisingly, the aural presentation struggles to match the visual masterclass. The radio is full of inoffensive B & C tier songs, many of which were released 5 or more years ago, whilst the engine notes can’t match up to the pristine renditions you get from the big-boy sim games either. But, the weirdest thing for a Ubisoft game is the hugely mixed quality of the voice acting, much of which sounds like it’s a placeholder, or was just accepted after the first take. It lacks emotion and quality delivery in some places, but not all, which is the strangest thing of all.
There’s nothing inherently awful about The Crew 2, but that’s certainly damning it with faint praise! There are just so many disappointing elements, which is a real shame, because the handling (whilst not Forza good) has been improved, and the graphics are absolutely spectacular. There is a core of an amazing game here, and it feels like greatness has slipped through the fingers of Ivory Tower at the last moment. As it stands, The Crew 2 is a perfectly acceptable and inoffensive racing game, released at a time where there’s little competition, so despite all the annoying flaws, I’ve still enjoyed spending a great deal of time driving across the USA again.
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