The Crew (video game)
|Release||December 2, 2014|
The Crew is an online-only racing video game developed by Ivory Tower and Ubisoft Reflections and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with an Xbox 360 port developed by Asobo Studio.
The Crew received a mixed reception upon release. Critics praised the game's world design but criticized the always-online aspect, which created technical glitches and other issues, the difficult-to-understand user interface, and the presence of microtransactions. The game shipped two million copies by January 1, 2015. It received an expansion, titled The Crew: Wild Run, which was released on November 17, 2015. Another expansion, entitled The Crew: Calling All Units, was announced at Gamescom 2016 and released on November 29, 2016. A sequel, The Crew 2, is scheduled to be released worldwide on June 29th, 2018.
The Crew is a racing game set in a persistent open world environment for free-roaming across a scaled-down recreation of the contiguous United States. The map is split into five regions: The Midwest, East Coast, The South, Mountain States, and West Coast. Each region has its own unique geographical features. Six main cities (one in each region, two in the Midwest) are featured in the game: Detroit and Chicago in the Midwest, New York City on the East Coast, Miami in The South, Las Vegas in the Mountain States, and Los Angeles on the West Coast. Various other cities, namely St. Louis, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Santa Fe, San Francisco, and Seattle, are also featured in the game. Over thirty smaller cities and towns line the countryside, such as Nashville, Norfolk and others. It takes approximately 45 minutes in real time to drive from coast to coast in-game.
The Single-player campaign is up to 20 hours long, and entails infiltrating criminal groups with protagonist Alex Taylor (Troy Baker). Players can also participate in mini-games called skills challenges that are peppered across the world. They are triggered when a player drives through them and involve completing challenges such as weaving through gates and staying as close to a racing line as possible for a period of time. Players' scores are automatically saved so friends can try and beat their scores, in similar fashion to how Autolog works in games of the Need for Speed franchise. Missions can be played alone, with friends, or with online co-op matchmaking. The multiplayer mode lets a maximum of eight players to compete in races and other gametypes. There are no in-game loading screens or pauses. Players can also build cars with a tie-in app for iOS and Android.
The Crew creative director Julian Gerighty has called the game a role-playing game with large-scale multiplayer elements. The multiplayer is not separate from the single-player. Players can form "crews" to race together or against ghost records.
Though the player can play alone, the game requires a constant internet connection to play.
The story begins with main character Alex Taylor being pursued by local law enforcement near Detroit. After losing the cops, he finds a Chevrolet Camaro loaned to him by Harry. Harry explains to him that Alex's older brother and the founder of the 5-10 motor club, Dayton, wants to speak with him. Dayton arrives and orders Alex to drive him to Ambassador Bridge. Once there, Dayton tells him to keep his head down. A Ford GT pulls up, Dayton goes and talks with the driver before walking back to the Camaro, but before he can get there, the driver shoots him and drives off. Alex rushes to Dayton's side as the police arrive. The police restrain Alex as Dayton succumbs to his wound. Alex is charged and later convicted of Dayton's murder by FBI Special Agent Bill Coburn, and is sent to prison.
Five years later, Alex encounters FBI Agent Zoe Winters, who informs him that he will be temporarily released from prison if he agrees to cooperate with the FBI in exposing Coburn's corruption, and finding the truth behind Dayton's murder. In doing so, Alex has to infiltrate the 5-10 motor club and climb up its hierarchy. This way, Alex makes his way to exact revenge on Coburn and bring him to Zoe, and later find his brother's murderer, the new leader of the 5-10s, Dennis "Shiv" Jefferson.
After getting released from prison, Alex accepts his first mission to help the Detroit 5-10, Troy. After doing a series of missions for him, Alex is sent to St. Louis to kill that city's V2. Alex and Zoe frame the V2's death, but Troy finds out that she is still alive. Troy sends his crew to get Alex and the V2. Alex manages to escape, but Troy finds and kills the V2. Alex then gets a call from Herschel Craig, the Chicago 5-10 who is competing for the V4 of the Midwest along with Troy. Craig gives tasks to Alex to claim territory from Troy by beating his records. Alex is able to get his 5-10 ink by helping Craig recover a stolen car from Europe. Alex is sent to New York City soon after to help a V6, Eric Tsu.
Alex goes to New York and is reunited with Harry, who agrees to help him with his mission. Alex gets a dirt car and meets Eric, racing him and later doing missions for him. Meanwhile, Zoe and Alex are suspicious of Harry when he gets secretive. It is later revealed that Harry is trying to help Dayton's girlfriend, Connie, by stealing and selling cars, but first Alex and Eric have to recover them. Alex also has to deliver something to a mysterious person, later revealed to be Coburn. Harry has Alex follow him with Connie and her son in the car so they can get on a bus going upstate. Alex gets his V2 ink, and is asked to go to Miami.
Alex goes to Miami and meets Alita, Shiv's ex-girlfriend. She challenges Alex to a race to see if he is ready for the job he has to do. After winning, he is tasked with claiming The South from Cameron Rockport, a dangerous former 5-10. Coburn then calls Alex for help in taking down Shiv from the V8. Coburn has him take down much of Cam's crew, but becomes difficult when Cam's crew goes after him. After winning the South from Cam in a race, Alex notices Coburn's plan of killing Cam, and is forced to save Cam. He goes to Miami Beach to get him, only to find out Cam is already taken away by Coburn's crew. Alex gets in an off-road truck so as to crash the car Cam is in. Cam gets in the truck with Alex as they escape Coburn's men. Cam then leaves the South. Afterwards, Shiv notices Alex's activities and gives him the V4 ink. Alex is then sent to Las Vegas.
Alex goes to a diner and meets Roxanne, a technology whiz whose sister joined the 5-10s. It is revealed Roxanne's sister has been shot dead by Shiv. Zoe finds out that Coburn is selling impounded contraband. Alex does more missions and gains enough evidence to help Zoe take him down. Alex travels to the location of Coburn's contraband and collects it. Coburn finds him and tries to escape. Alex follows him to the airport in Vegas, where Zoe arrests him. After Coburn is arrested, Alex gets a call from Shiv saying he is invited to "The 5-10 Face-Off" in the West Coast (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle).
Alex goes to LA and meets Vincent, a former pro racer that Harry wanted Alex to see. Vincent was injured in a racing incident that ended his career after a 5-10 sabotaged his race car in a bet. He later killed the 5-10 out of revenge. Vincent agrees to help Alex in Face-Off events, but Shiv adds a twist to each event. For example, during a race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, he calls the police. In a street race, Alex is forced to race in a car that isn't as fast as the other racers' cars. Towards the end of the game, Alex manages to win the Face-Off. However, Shiv finds out that Alex is trying to kill him, and sends an army of 5-10s to go after Alex. Alex escapes and goes to Shiv's victory party with the intent of assassinating him. Shiv dares Alex to shoot, but Alex realizes that the people he met on his mission are his family, and refuses. He suggests to settle it in a race instead. Alex wins the race, but Shiv refuses to give up, leading Alex to chase him down along the coast. At the end of the game, Shiv is confronted by the police as his car is wrecked, and Alex explains his love for racing.
The Ivory Tower development team includes former Eden Games employees, and is receiving assistance from Ubisoft Reflections. The game plans to use the new consoles' social and cooperative play features. On 13 August 2014, Ubisoft confirmed that the game will be released on the Xbox 360 the same date as the other versions, with Asobo Studio leading the development and Ivory Tower, Ubisoft Reflections and Ubisoft Shanghai providing support.
On 21 July 2014, Ubisoft released a closed beta of The Crew on the PC for a limited time only. The beta allowed players to play a portion of the story-driven missions in the Midwest and East Coast and free roam the entire United States of America at their own pace. Cars and a variety of other things such as driver levels and specifications for cars were limited. The second closed beta for PC took place from 25 to 29 August 2014. A PlayStation 4 and Xbox One console beta was released on 30 September 2014. Another closed beta for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One took place on 6 to 10 November 2014. An open beta for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network members also took place from 25 to 27 November 2014. As part of UBI30, a promotion which would bring seven Ubisoft free games to PC in 2016 as part of Ubisoft's 30th anniversary, the game was free to download from Uplay from September 14 to mid-October 2016, while the Xbox One version was made available free to Xbox Live Gold subscribers as part of Microsoft's Games with Gold program from June 16 to July 15, 2016.
The Crew: Wild Run
The Crew: Wild Run is the first expansion pack to the 2014 game. It is developed by Ivory Tower and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The expansion was announced at E3 2015 during Ubisoft's press conference. It was released on November 17, 2015.
Adding to the base gameplay, the expansion introduces motorcycles and a range of new cars, and new vehicle specifications such as monster trucks, drift cars, and dragsters, as well as a new multiplayer event, The Summit. In addition, the release of the expansion introduces a graphical overhaul for the game, via an update available to all players whether or not they own the expansion.
The Crew: Calling All Units
The Crew: Calling All Units is the second expansion pack to the 2014 game. It was announced at Gamescom 2016 and was released on November 29, 2016 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One alongside with the Ultimate Edition, which bundles the base game, all the previously-released downloadable content, and both Calling All Units and Wild Run expansions.
In Calling All Units, the player is given the opportunity to play as a Police Officer and must arrest illegal streetracers and smugglers. They will gain access to Police equipment as well as various types of cars, to catch suspects.
The Crew received mixed reviews from critics. Critics overall praised the game's immense world, but disliked the game's technical issues relating to its online-only gameplay, as well as its complicated user interface and use of microtransactions. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 72% based on 7 reviews and 71/100 based on 12 reviews, the Xbox One version 60% based on 14 reviews and 64/100 based on 18 reviews and the PlayStation 4 version 59% based on 37 reviews and 61/100 based on 60 reviews.
Mike Channell from Eurogamer gave the game a 8/10, praising its rich content, worthy side-missions and activities, enormous driveable space, successful blend between the story and the multiplayer, huge variety of scenery and rewarding and entertaining co-operative gameplay, but criticizing its poor story and lead character, "outrageous" AI, as well as the inclusion of microtransactions. He stated that "The Crew is an astonishing achievement, not only because of its vastness but also its level of fidelity and the authenticity of its character."
Matthew Kato from Game Informer gave the game a 7/10, praising the satisfying upgrade and car-purchasing system, as well as the decent voice-acting. However, he criticized the cliched story and stated that "The Crew feels like an average arcade racer. There are some fun times, but you may be surprised to discover that America is a pretty empty place."
Josh Harmon from Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game a 6/10, praising the game world, which he stated "has captured the spirit of America" and described the game as "the best open world in a racing game to date". However, he criticized the off-putting microtransactions, as well as poor story-telling and the pay-to-win model of the game. He stated that "Despite delivering an impressive playground, The Crew struggles to build out a worthwhile game experience around it."
Peter Brown from GameSpot gave the game a 5/10, also praising the massive game world, as well as the single-player mission, but criticizing the automatically activated missions, frustrating side-missions, such as the raid car missions and the fleeing missions, as well as outdated graphics, poor physics, AI and user interface, texture pop-in and disappointing cars, buildings and environment models. He also criticized the game for not encouraging players to form a crew to play missions. He summarized the review by saying that "The Crew isn't that good after all. When you can't play due to server issues, you find a new game to play and leave The Crew in your dust."
In May 2017, Ubisoft announced its sequel, The Crew 2. It is scheduled to be released worldwide in early 2018 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. In the sequel, the roster of vehicles expands to include planes, boats, motorcycles and off ATVs. The release date was later moved to an unrevealed date, and subsequently confirmed for June 29.
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