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The Crew Review

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Gameplay:

Like many MMOs, the gameplay is the most important aspect of the game because that is what will keep people playing for dozens of hours. Here there are specific points of the gameplay to discuss: the driving; the missions and challenges; the cars; and the economy.

The driving is pretty solid, though at times it can be frustrating. You may never see what it was that caused some of your wheels to jump off the ground just long enough to lose control, but you know there must have been something. Fairly often for me, I think it turned out to be curbs I bumped into, or dirt shoulders I ran onto, causing some of the wheels to have different traction than the others. I cannot say how authentic this is, having never driven a car in excess of 100 MPH, but I can say it teaches you to be cautious with where you are on the road, and how fast you are driving.

Of course crashes also do this in part because of how unpredictable they can be. Sometimes you can get away with clipping something, and other times a tap will lead to an explosion of metal and sparks, sending you across the street. Being a piece of software, I do not doubt that there is some ruled logic to this, but I never quite figured it out. You definitely need to be careful when driving in The Crew, especially with all of the AI drivers in the game.

In addition to other players, there are also a number of AI driven cars to contend with and avoid, even outside of missions. In some cases these can be very frustrating as they block your path during a mission or skill challenge. At least they can also block your opponents' paths during those same missions. (That transition worked out well.)

 

There are two types of missions in The Crew: story and skill. Skill challenges are generally short and exist within the world. One example would be the Jump skill challenges, which have you driving any of your cars at a ramp, and naturally your reward is based on how far the car drives. Slaloms are one skill type that are especially frustrated by the AI drivers, because you want to avoid them while weaving between the flags, and that is easier said than done on a two-lane road. It is a living world though, so each attempt can have different numbers of AI in your way.

There are a variety of skill types to try, so you will likely find a few that fit your abilities, giving you a fun pathway to progress. You may need to deviate from these types though, depending on the car you are trying to upgrade. Some spec types really only work on paved roads, and others lack the speed and acceleration to make a good jump.

Story missions tend to be longer than the skills, can be played with other people, and will sometimes have AI opponents. For most of my playthrough, I played the missions solo, which is an option, but you can select the Quick Co-op option to invite people in the area to join you. For some missions this may be a good idea, but except for a few, none really demanded assistance, in my experience. The first that was really hard was one that had you using a car tuned for driving off-road against a high-performance, pavement hugging supercar. I do not know how many attempts it took before I finally beat it, but the mission definitely felt unbalanced to me. Granted my opponent is supposed to be screaming fast on the pavement, but there should have been a looser tolerance on the player's imperfections, in my opinion.

 

The second mission that I felt was unbalanced is actually just the worse of a class of missions that require you run into and damage a target car. In this specific mission the target was a police bus with 200 health. At best you do 30 damage per hit, and because it is a police vehicle you are after, other police cars will show up and swarm you. Like the crashes, I never figured out the logic behind the damage you do with each hit. I do know that these hits do not often affect the vehicle much, unlike hits on your car, and that only your hits will do damage. If the target runs into another car or runs into a wall, it will take no damage. The police presence is so frustrating in this mission because they can outrun you, can cause you to spin out with a single tap (something I never accomplished against another car in this game), and even without spinning out, can halt you with one car.

While the police presence and high health are problems for this specific mission, all takedown missions have one fundamental problem. They are all timed. You only have so much time to take out your target, with hits of varying effectiveness, and even hitting the target can be hard to do. These are fast moving cars and you do not exactly have the ability to watch your target out of the corner of your eye, as in real life. Considering your reward is already based on how long it takes you, I do believe these missions simply should have no time limit and let you go until you incapacitate your target, or are incapacitated yourself (such as from the police arresting you). One other change that would be nice would be for the target vehicle to take different paths. Yup, these missions are on loose rails as your target will only ever go one way. This does help with anticipating and attacking, but honestly, I'd prefer an intelligent target that was tuned so that properly geared players would be able to catch it, without exploiting shortcuts and foreknowledge. Really though, this is just not an offensive game, so these missions feel out of place.

 

Another mission type I want to mention are those that involve escaping somebody, like the police. These are frustrating because of how your trackers can spontaneously spawn ahead of you, without warning. Maybe you were finally out of view and the clock is counting down, only to run into a circle of visibility because a road block appeared on what had been a clear stretch of road. Also helicopters. They are fast and do not have to make sharp turns, giving them a great advantage over you. These missions are not as hard as the takedowns are, but are still frustrating.

Beyond these, all story missions do have one interesting flaw to them that impacts replayability; not the initial experience. Unlike the skill challenges, you are only able to attempt these mission on specific car types, and then also only with your best geared car of that type. It would have been so nice to allow players to replay these races, especially after completing the campaign, with whatever they want. Maybe I want to try that first race again with an overpowered circuit car, just for fun. This also comes into play with the car parts you acquire, but I want to talk about those with the economy. Before that, I should explain the different cars and car specs.

 

 

Like any racing game, there are a variety of cars for you to purchase and play with. At the beginning of the game you are given enough money to purchase one car, and from there each time you unlock a new spec, one car can be given it for free. Other than that, everything costs you, except the hidden cars. Even if you play a mission where, according to the dialogue, you win the loser's ride or are given a car for the mission, you only get to have what you buy.

The differences between the cars you purchase are more than just looks, as some have better full stock specs than others, such as more horsepower. This influences the costs of the vehicles, and naturally also how they ride. Before purchasing, you are free to test drive a car.

The hidden cars I mentioned are unlocked by finding the wrecks spread across the regions of the map. Being such a large map, I expected I would need to look up guides to find them all, but actually this information can be found in-game pretty easily. Under the Exploration filter for the map, you can have the areas for hidden car parts revealed, if you first found the data sync stations in the area. Those, conveniently, are also identified on the map, under the same filter. These stations serve to place every icon on the map, but do not reveal the map itself. That is only done by driving through the area, and it is worth doing so. Along with the live nature of the map, you are also able to fast travel to any point on the map that you have revealed. This came in very handy when searching for the car parts, as it let me skip over rivers, past rocks, and in some cases, teleport directly next to the wreck. (They are visible on the map when zoomed in, if nothing obscures them.)

 

Once you find all of the car parts, and have unlocked the headquarters for the region, you are granted the finished car, already speced to whatever that region features. The first region you are in features the Street spec, which is meant for normal driving on the road. The other specs are Dirt, Performance, Raid, and Circuit. Dirt and Raid are both meant for going off road, although it is the Raid spec that is truly the go-anywhere ride. Performance and Circuit prefer smooth roads, with Circuit being the extreme version. With the exception of the Raid spec, the hidden cars are actually all modified Model As, which I personally liked.

Equipping cars with the rewards you collect is a more tedious process than it really should be. This is because car parts are not shared between any two cars. Different cars with the same spec and identical cars with different specs cannot share items, so if you unlock or purchase a new car, you need to run through the skill challenges to equip it, or purchase the items. (I never actually purchased anything but cars because I never thought to, since the skills are so accessible and fun.)

 

This combined with the story missions always forcing you to use the highest level car of a given spec makes for a somewhat restricted experience, and I do not know why. It is not like any of the parts are represented in a way to limit them to specific vehicles. I could understand an argument that it is to prevent players from farming gear with one car to power-level another, except that the different specs are so different. It is not like you could grind away and collect enough parts with a Circuit car that a Raid car could compete with it. The Raid will always be slower. Besides, every skill challenge, and thus every rewarded item, is accessible to every vehicle. Certain specs may not be very good at certain skills, but between just the Jumps and Slaloms I got all of the vehicles I use to power levels well over 1000. (The highest level I have seen for an AI opponent is 990.)

One other issue that adds onto this is the steps needed to even see if a skill's reward would be an upgrade for a given vehicle. You have to actually swap vehicles, which takes some steps, to enable comparing, and then either drive up to the skill and press a button to do the comparison, or open up the map and mouse over the skill challenge. It is such a cumbersome and slow process; just allowing the player to equip items to any car would streamline the experience tremendously. Once you have an item you also cannot get rid of it. I have looked through the game and cannot find any way to sell or destroy unneeded, bound items. If you are awarded an item at too low a level for your car, or is a duplicate of one you already have bought, it is sold, but only then are they destroyed.

Besides gear, another way to improve your cars is by leveling up. The maximum level is 50, and every five levels adds 25 to your cars' power levels. This is definitely a nice bonus because you can level up quite quickly just by running around trying to get the best gear for your car. I should know since I hit max level before entering the last region. You are also awarded points that can be invested into perks, like improved braking, great map reveal, bonus experience, etc.

 

 

Naturally hitting level 50 is useful as it makes all car parts usable (if not on any car) and gives each car a power level boost, but it also unlocks Platinum rewards. Prior to level 50, your performance on any skill or mission is graded as Bronze, Silver, or Gold, and the item you are awarded is similarly graded. These items are also of a certain level, so level one items are not that useful on late-game cars. Platinum grade items, however, are much higher level and can actually come in a range of levels. This level range makes it useful to farm certain skill challenges, in order to get the highest level of a part, and the higher level makes it worthwhile returning to past regions with high level cars.

I should mention that Silver and better items are given special bonuses, such as a braking or grip bonus. I assume that these bonuses can have an impact, but never played around with them enough to know for sure. This is because of the cumbersome process needed to swap out parts, and because the game will just automatically tell you what is better. I just went with that, because I had no reason not to.

One final thing to bring up are the factions, which I admit, I have not done much with. Factions rule the different regions of the map, but do not really influence your normal gameplay. They exist more for the MMO meta-game between players, whereby one faction can compete with another. When you first join one you are awarded 100,000 Crew Credits, which are the game's premium currency. Once in a faction you are able to engage in faction missions. I only did one before returning to the normal missions and skills. This one required I drive from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to a New York harbor. It took a while, but was not that bad. Other missions are listed as taking longer though, with some even saying two hours. I am not sure how accurate that is, but the mission I did was stated as being 10 to 60 minutes, and I think it came in at around 15 for me. The more you do in the game, the higher a rank you have in the faction, and each day you are awarded money based on your rank.

 

 

I cannot give you a full playtime for my playthrough because when I saw it had time statistics, I figured I could use those. Those statistics are in no way correct though, claiming I have only played the game for thirty-nine minutes. My guess is that I put in between 15 and 20 hours, and that could easily increase if I continue playing for the faction missions or setting records on every mission. Of course playing with friends will also increase playtime.

The gameplay is largely quite fun and works well. Really it is just the economy stuff that is altogether in need of a redesign. Sure there are some missions that could use some serious attention and potentially some redesign, but obviously they are all possible. By the way, I played the entire game using my keyboard. I never felt it necessary to pull out my controller, which is pretty cool for a game of this genre.




  1. The Crew Review - Introduction
  2. The Crew Review - Graphics
  3. The Crew Review - Story
  4. The Crew Review - Gameplay
  5. The Crew Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  6. The Crew Review - Conclusion
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