DISCLAIMER: Ubisoft provided a review copy of The Crew 2 for this review as well as partnered with the Motor Trend Group, of which Super Street is a part of, for a promotional event. There is also Motor Trend branding within certain elements of The Crew 2. The author of this review did not attend the promotional event and only had access to an early review copy of The Crew 2. All opinions of The Crew 2 expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Motor Trend Group.
The Crew 2 is the very definition of an "open" game. It does have a slightly deeper narrative than Forza Horizon but not nearly as much story as any of the recent Need For Speed games. Instead, The Crew 2 challenges players to master all the different racing disciplines offered in the game, and there are a lot. Street racing, freestyle aerobatics, off road buggies, rallycross, trucks, speedboat racing, GT racing, open wheel racing, and probably one or two I've missed are all on the menu here. All of the vehicles and racing disciplines are split up in to different "Motor Families": Street Racing, Pro Racing, Freestyle, and Off Road.
Having all those vehicles and racing disciplines in one game sounds great on paper, but does The Crew 2 actually pull it off in a satisfying way? Or does the game suffer by trying to do too much at once? After playing the game for a while I can say that the answer is a little of both. But I'll get into that later.
First, I want to talk about the visuals. For context, I played The Crew 2 on an Xbox One X so the game was running in 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. The Crew 2 runs at 30fps on all consoles. Only the PC version is capable of exceeding that frame rate. Now that we got that technical stuff out of the way you should know that the game looks really, really good. The Ubisoft Ivory Tower dev team implemented a new game engine that allows for the creation of sprawling lush environments.
The Crew 2 also has a day/night cycle as well as dynamic weather in a shared open world. I didn't experience much of the weather changes but the day night cycle was absolutely beautiful, especially in urban areas where sunlight can reflect off of buildings, cars, and wet asphalt.
The vehicles look sharp and realistic, but I wouldn't say they quite have the depth of detail that you'd find in simulator type games. The damage model doesn't go very deep either. You can definitely scratch the paint on most vehicles but despite how many times I hit a wall or drifted into lamp posts my cars never got a single dent.
By the way, since the game's map is essentially a slightly condensed version of the United States, there is a seemingly endless variety when it comes to building and structure types to be found in the cities and suburbs of The Crew 2's open world. You'll have to put some serious time in to see everything. Speaking of, this is a good time to get into one of my favorite elements of the gameplay.
The Crew 2 has a feature called "Fav Five" in which you can switch between a land, sea, or air vehicle on the fly. For example, imagine you're in an aerobatic plane and you just happen to be flying directly over the Golden Gate Bridge. You can activate Fav Five mode, switch to your favorite car and in a flash that car takes the place of the plane and you fall straight down onto the bridge and you're on your way.
That ability makes traversing all the different terrains in The Crew 2's open world an incredibly creative and fun experience. Unfortunately, it's not integrated into racing events very well. The few races that do feature it actually do the switching for you automatically.
Since I mentioned events, I should probably get into my biggest pro and biggest con with this game. With each motor family comes a completely different set of challenges and race types that take place all over the map. In that way, The Crew 2 is like four games in one. In and of itself, that is pretty awesome. However, with so many options and no linear gameplay or story as a guide, it was easy for me to become overwhelmed and left not really knowing what I should do next. There were also more than a few times where I completed entry level events for several motor families but still didn't earn enough in-game currency to buy a vehicle that would gain me entry into the next discipline for a given motor family.
That situation forced me into a position where I was basically grinding for currency by playing in disciplines that I didn't really feel like playing in at that specific time. That made all the choices I thought I was given feel more like an illusion.
Something else that should be noted is that The Crew 2 requires an internet connection to play. I didn't find that to be an issue personally but I know that can be a deal-breaker for many. It should also be noted that while The Crew 2 is an always online game, PvP functionality is not active yet and won't be coming to the game until sometime in December 2018 according to the developers. Co-op and online party free roam modes will be available at launch..
Fortunately, there are no controversial "loot boxes" to be found. While there is loot in the game it's all earned through gameplay. However, frankly the upgrade system is pretty bland. There is no picking individual parts and fine tuning like in other games. Generic parts are just assigned a performance number and you earn parts with higher numbers when you find loot or win events. So, earning better parts is ultimately unfulfilling. Though when you think about all you can do in this game, upgrading vehicles isn't really the main draw.
In the end The Crew 2 is an incredibly ambitious, great looking game, with some unique features and gameplay mechanics that have never been done before in this particular genre.
It does fall short in various areas and the execution of some elements could definitely use improvement. However, with some updates I think The Crew 2 can be a serious contender for the open world driving game throne. If you're open minded and looking for something that pushes the creative envelope a bit further than the Forza's and the Gran Turismo's then there is definitely a lot to like about The Crew 2.