Size matters in racing four-play that’s aiming to prove bigger equals better
From what we’ve played of The Crew so far, the basic mechanics that will comprise the missions in this team-based PS4 racer are things you’ve seen before: straight races, time trials, point-to-points, teaming up to take down an enemy vehicle and so on. But where Ivory Tower and Ubisoft‘s efforts do wow is with the size of playground in which you can enact these things.
You have the entirety of mainland USA to explore, albeit in squished and idealised form letting you drive from coast to coast in one long stretch. And it’s attempting this that forms the first part of our hands-on, as we touch down in Manhattan (picking a spot using a GPS map and then zooming down to ground level) and then setting our sights on the left coast. Drop a waypoint and a blue line hovers above your car to guide the way, and you’re then free to go. You can of course ignore the prescribed directions, but even if you take the road most travelled you’ll still see a huge variety of terrain across a setting that’s realistically mapped, if not 100% accurate. There are metropolises, mountain ranges, beaches, deserts, motels filled with tortured teenagers – everything you’d expect from an American road trip.
Car handling is arcade-focused and simplistic, and vehicles are hugely customisable – which you’ll need when it comes to endurance races or bombing over sand dunes. There are also real manufacturers, including Ford, Nissan, and Chevrolet confirmed so far. Using these to rise up the ranks of an illegal street-racing gang in an online connected world will no doubt be fun, and the game is visually impressive considering its scale. But it’s the ability to use these cars in any way you please, wherever you want across such an enormous landscape, that excites the most.