The Crew 2 is an arcade racing game, released in 2018 on PS4, Xbox One, Windows and Google Stadia. It’s an ambitious game, known primarily for its massive playable map and wide range of game modes. But how does it actually hold up as a racing game?
The Crew 2 is a fun game to play, but it’s definitely an arcade racer. The driving physics are very low level, but the map is huge and there’s a massive array of vehicles to choose from. With lots of racing disciplines on offer, it’s certainly a good choice for those that like arcade racers.
While The Crew 2 is definitely fun, it’s worth taking a closer look at all the individual aspects of the game to really see what it does well and where its shortcomings lie. This review will look at it for what it is – an arcade racer. So, let’s first talk about the main attractions of the game.
An Overview Of The Crew 2
The first thing that jumped out to me when I first checked out The Crew 2 was the huge playable map that’s based off the contiguous United States. It covers everything from Manhattan to the Grand Canyon, and it does so in a very creative way. Its size cannot be overstated, as you’ll find yourself driving for more than half an hour to go from coast to coast.
A Massive Map
The surface level detail is amazing. With dozens of cities to explore, along with smaller rural towns, there’s so much to see that you’ll never run out of places to cruise around. However, it’s still a game, so it does have its limits. Most of the buildings are of course just blocks with a skin (many of them using the same ones), but it still provides enough detail to make the cities feel unique.
Of course, everything is smaller too, but the fact that so many real cities are included is incredible. It’s so much fun to cruise down the coast or go on cross country drives, and this makes the longer races lots of fun. So, in terms of the map, I think The Crew 2 really stands in a league of its own.
Along with a massive map you also get a huge selection of race venues. These include cross country races that take place along roads, but also touring car circuits, rally cross venues and drifting locations. I’ll discuss these in more detail soon, but it’s worth noting here that the size of the map opens up a massive amount of opportunity in terms of race locations.
Lots Of Vehicles
These locations can also be taken on in a huge number of vehicles. The game allows you to take to the land, sea and air, with cars, bikes, ATVs, boats and planes on offer. These game modes each add something unique to the playing experience, but the massive number of vehicles in each category is pretty impressive too.
Plus, there are lots of game modes to try. I’ve already alluded to the different tracks and racing venues, and these correspond to myriad different racing disciplines. We’ll get into them in more detail below, but for now just know that there really is a lot of playing to be done in The Crew 2, making it the perfect game for those that just want to do some arcade racing of any kind.
Let’s dive into more detail about the different game modes and racing disciplines, as the selection is as vast as the map you can play on.
Different Game Modes In The Crew 2
The Crew 2 starts off with a story mode. This story follows your career as a driver that’s trying to become the best in a variety of different racing disciplines. Honestly, the story isn’t worth thinking about much beyond the initial race you’re required to do. It follows a “live TV” style that’s supposed to be fun and interesting, but really, it’s just pretty cringey.
As you might expect from this kind of game, there’s a lot of cringey dialogue, annoying cutscenes and lifeless characters. So, in terms of story mode, this game is pretty terrible. But that’s not why I bought The Crew 2 nor why I kept playing it once I did.
If you want an arcade racer with a good story mode, The Crew 2 is not the right choice. But if you want a game that offers almost limitless opportunity to just have some fun racing different vehicles, it’s a pretty decent one to go for. So, aside from the story (if you can call it that) what other game modes can you play?
The game takes the rough structure of 4 racing disciplines. These are Off Road, Freestyle, Street Racing and Pro Racing. Within these broad disciplines are more specific ones, like touring car racing within the Pro category, and hypercars racing under the Street discipline.
A Bit Of Progression
The story does kind of intertwine with each one, with the goal being to progress through them to the point where you can take on a “Rival” and get an exclusive vehicle, but it’s basically just a load of different missions and races that are usually pretty fun. The progression aspect is nice, but by no means an essential part of the playing experience (unless you want the special vehicles).
Completing races in each category will count towards your experience in that category, which will allow you to unlock new things. However, this can often feel quite grindy, and you’ll find yourself repeating certain events in order to build up points faster to buy the parts you want for your cars (more on that soon).
But just picking and choosing the events you want to play is way more fun. While you do need to complete some in order to level up by increasing your following (pretty abstract, but I guess they were trying to make it relevant to the world of social media), in order to unlock more events, it’s pretty easy and doesn’t take too long.
Lots To Choose From
The selection of game modes is really down to the massive selection of vehicles on offer. With lots of rally cars, touring cars and even a few F1 cars, you can take to just about any surface and have fun. There are also different types of boats to race, and variation in the planes on offer too.
However, I find the car racing to be the most fun, as the boat and plane racing gets quite boring quite quickly. They’re essential if you want to truly complete the game, but the planes are really most useful for just exploring the map, and the boats are just too slow in my opinion.
The multiplayer aspect of the game can be fun, but really, it’s just too chaotic for me. It’s like any arcade racer that puts a focus on the fun rather than the racing – it’s pretty quickly going to get out of control. But cruising around with friends is fun, and it’s definitely unique when compared to most other racing games that just involve chaotic circuit racing.
Other fun game modes worth mentioning are the destruction derby style events, where the goal is to destroy your opponents’ cars. It’s pretty dumb, but it’s also quite entertaining. The hypercar races are usually the longest, and so they’re fun for that aspect alone, and the rally raids are fun cross-country battles against AI opponents.
So, if you want lots of game modes using lots of vehicles, The Crew 2 is great. If you want a good story, or a reliable multiplayer experience, it’s not so great.
The Cars And The Racing
I’ve already said all there is to say about the boats and the planes. The game clearly doesn’t put as much of a focus on them, and the selection is nowhere near as vast as it is for the 2 and 4-wheeled vehicles. But there is still enough to make the races bearable when you need to complete it for your progression’s sake.
As for the cars, the selection is pretty huge. There are classic muscle cars, everyday road cars, expensive supercars and some of the newest hypercars to choose from as well. You can take to the roads of the Midwest in a family sedan or you can blast down the coast at 270 mph in a Koenigsegg Jesko. Or you can take to the hills in a Ford Focus rally car or drive round a circuit in a Red Bull RB13 F1 car.
There’s no doubt that the cars all feel different, and they handle in different ways. However, it’s far from realistic. Again, this is an arcade racer, not a racing simulator. You’ll be able to hit realistic top speeds, but the handling will be incredibly different to what you might expect. As long as you expect arcade physics, you’ll have a good time.
The way the cars look is about what you’d expect too, and the damage model is minimal due to licensing issues with the manufacturers (they don’t want you to inaccurately portray what happens to their cars when you crash them). This is fine, as unless you’re playing the destruction derby game mode you probably don’t want damage to be too realistic anyway.
If you’re like me, and looking for a good solo racing experience, you’ll want to know what the AI is like. Well, it’s not the best, but it’s also not the worst. There’s a fair bit of rubber banding, and this can be frustrating on the longer hypercar races. You could be leading for 25 minutes, spin, then lose the lead you had in a matter of seconds, even though the AI are driving cars with half your power.
But in most races, it’s really quite alright. Some races are harder than others no matter which car you use or how you approach it, but that’s all part of the challenge and part of the fun. And I can’t stress it enough, but this game is really more about fun than the racing mechanics. That’s a good thing in my book, as I’ve got plenty of other sims to play if I want a realistic race!
All in all, there’s around 180 vehicles in total, with the vast majority of them being cars and motorcycles. This gives you plenty of choice, and you’ll quickly find your favorite vehicles for each discipline. While there are lots to choose from, it’s now time to talk about the customization and upgrade system within The Crew 2, and why it lacks quite substantially.
Customization And Upgrade System
As you might expect with an arcade racer, The Crew 2 gives players the option to upgrade their cars. You buy new cars with in-game money (or real money if you prefer), which you earn by completing events. However, upgrading the cars comes through the loot system.
The Loot System
Basically, when you complete events you’ll be handed some loot boxes of various types. These correspond to different areas of the car, and they’re essentially upgrade tokens to use on your car. While I do think this is unique, it’s definitely not one of the best upgrade systems I’ve used within games.
The loot boxes will contain parts for whichever vehicle type you used to get them. So, if you win a hypercar race, you’ll get parts for hypercars. This is nothing bad, but what is a bit lackluster is the fact the parts are really just for show, and it’s really just a stat improvement.
While it does mean the car is upgraded, it’s a pretty lifeless system. You’ll also quickly end up with more loot boxes than you can make use of, and as soon as you get one with a higher number attached to it, the others become essentially useless.
It’s a good thing that upgrades use a loot system, as the car’s themselves are pretty expensive considering how much money you get for completing events. The longer ones will pay you more, but saving up becomes a bit grindy, and the same applies for trying to get the best loot boxes as well.
In terms of customization however, there’s a decent amount you can do to your car (or boat or plane of course). You can download liveries created by other players or create your own. You can add tires that give off smoke in the colors of the French flag or change the way your lights look. All in all, there’s a decent selection of things to customize.
Good Customization Options
You can also customize a lot of the settings too. You can play around with the “pro” settings, which allow you to fine tune the way your car drives. This is the best way to get more performance out of the vehicles, and so it’s worth checking out these settings if you think your vehicle of choice just isn’t cutting it.
Overall, the upgrade system works, but it’s quite grindy and lifeless. The customization options are plentiful though.
Other Talking Points About The Crew 2
Another key part of the game that definitely aids in the fun factor is the fact you can instantly change which vehicle you’re in using the “Fast Fav” system. This allows you to swap to your favorite boat, car or plane at a moment’s notice, and while some of the events will call for this, you can use it when you’re free roaming as well.
Cool But Not That Useful
Even though I’m biased as a sim racer, I think people will get the most fun out of the cars and bikes. The boats are fun to use going down rivers and when you need to complete certain events, and the planes are useful for getting around quickly. But the cars are definitely the most fun.
There is a good selection of long highways, tricky dirt paths and city streets and avenues. The handling of the different vehicle types differs enough to make each road surface fun and challenging, and while the physics aren’t great, it’s still super fun to just cruise around yourself – or with friends.
Damage System And Collisions
When you run into things however, you’ll notice a pretty inconsistent collision system. Some trees and highway barriers can be rammed through with no damage whatsoever, and others will stop you from close to 300 mph in no time. But this isn’t a game changer, it’s just something to be aware of. Again, realism is not the focus here.
Another niggle is the fact that the game is online – all the time. This is common nowadays, with the cloud being a good way for games to provide easy updates and store files remotely. However, this means that, combined with the massive map, the loading times can be pretty horrific.
Long Load Times
I find myself accidently pressing a race or location, waiting a while for the game to load it up, then having to wait for the map to come back up, press what I meant to press, and then get to where I wanted to go in the first place. I understand the game is massive and there needs to be sacrifices, but it can make the game a little stop-start at times.
One good thing about the map is the selection of home locations. These are buildings that you can use as home bases in various corners of the USA, and you can store vehicles here and make them look good. However, you can also just select a specific vehicle at any time, so this is really just for show, but it’s a nice addition to show your vehicles and liveries off to friends.
In terms of playability with peripherals like wheels and pedals, The Crew 2 isn’t too bad. I have the game on PS4 and have used it with the Logitech G29 setup. Some wheels, like the T300RS, are only compatible with the PC version, so it’s worth checking out Ubisoft’s website before buying if you plan to use a specific sim racing rig.
As for how it actually plays, it’s about what you’d expect. There are settings to change in-game like degree of rotation and force feedback, but they’re not that effective, and it’s tough to find settings that actually feel good to use. However, with a little practice, it is definitely possible to do well in races with a wheel.
What I will say is that it’s pretty satisfying to floor it down the coast in your favorite supercar, with a full wheel, pedals and shifter setup. While sim racers like Project Cars and iRacing will offer a more realistic driving experience, The Crew 2 is one of the best in terms of fun factor. Whether you’re using a game pad or a wheel setup, it’s a great arcade racer for those just looking for a good time.
The Crew 2 is an arcade racer. This means it puts a focus on fun, rather than realism. With a massive map based on the contiguous United States, there’s so much to explore. There’s a great selection of vehicles, and while the physics aren’t quite the best, and the load times leave a lot to be desired, it’s still an awesome game for those just looking to drive.