OCC E3 2013 AwardsClayMeow -
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Best Racing Game
Winner: The Crew (PC, PS4, XBO)
The Crew was a bit of a surprise when Ubisoft unveiled it at E3, as it looked like a very solid racing game with an open world. Open-world racing games typically focus on a single city, however The Crew is focusing on an entire country. You can take your car from one coast of the United States to the other, with a drive time of 90 minutes or so to complete the journey. Cities like New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Miami are included, and a lovely part of the Black Hills as well, with some fairly appropriate geography filling in the gaps. More cities and areas are bound to be shown off the closer The Crew gets to its release early next year, so it'll be pretty interesting seeing what all Ubisoft adds in.
Where The Crew sets itself apart, aside from the massive landscapes, is a 20-hour campaign you can complete solo, with friends, or random people. The single player and multiplayer components blend seamlessly, and you can group up with your buddies to form crews in order to compete against others in various races, take-downs, and other challenges. There's an RPG system as well, with kits getting unlocked to customize your cars, a level up system complete with experience points (Combat Points), and a high degree of human interaction like an MMO. The Crew doesn't feature a single loading screen or pauses, so your journey from coast to coast will be one big trip. Everything about it so far sounds like a great time, just hopefully there's enough of your friends who pick the game up to add even more enjoyment.
Runner-Up: DriveClub (PS4)
DriveClub was first shown off when the PlayStation 4 was unveiled in February, and since then the game is looking like an incredibly solid launch title for the system. Developer Evolution Studios is at the wheel, and unlike its past MotorStorm series, DriveClub is focused on road racing. There's no RPG elements to it or multiple versions of cars; once you unlock a model, it's the very best model of that particular type. It's designed to be accessible within moments, so you won't have to relearn how to drive a video game car when you load it up. It's an arcade racer like Grid 2, but visually it looks like a simulation. Cars are highly detailed, grass has individual blades, and stones in the pavement can be seen clearly, well, if you happen to take a moment and look around.
One of the best parts about DriveClub is there's a free special edition planned for PlayStation Plus subscribers. It has a smaller selection of cars and tracks than the full edition, but the mechanics are all there and sounds like the perfect way to see just what a next-gen racing game is like.
Winner: The Crew (PC, PS4, XBO)
Ubisoft is calling The Crew an "MMO-CarPG". Clever. The Crew is a persistent, online, open-world racing game set in the United States with no in-game loading screens. If you want, you can drive from coast to coast, seamlessly – it would take you 90-150 minutes to do so though, if you have a high-end vehicle, so plan accordingly. There's a main campaign that takes roughly 20 hours to complete, which you can do alone, with friends, or with random online co-op players. But even if you choose to solo missions, you're never truly alone, just as in any other MMO. Another MMO-like feature is late-game PvP, though details are sparse. As for the RPG aspects, you can unlock new items (kits) to customize your vehicle. Each vehicle is being handled like a "19-piece puzzle" consisting of both performance and aesthetic parts. And of course you earn experience, which in turn earns you Combat Points when you level up, which in turn can be spent on various Perks. If you have a few friends to join you, The Crew seems like it could be a whole lot of fun. If you go it alone and have to rely on randoms and pick-up groups, I'm not so sure.
Runner-Up: Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
Unsurprisingly, Mario Kart 8 is the eighth installment (not counting arcade versions) of the classic kart racing franchise. It's actually been over five years since the last Mario Kart game appeared on a home console (Mario Kart Wii), as 2011's Mario Kart 7 was for the Nintendo 3DS only. Mario Kart 8 takes the 12-player racing of Mario Kart Wii and the hangliders and underwater racing from Mario Kart 7, but adds anti-gravity sections where you can drive up walls and ceilings. Like Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8 isn't adding much over previous versions, but those waiting for a Mario Kart game on the Wii U probably won't care. They'll have to wait until next year.