When doing research for The Crew, one game suddenly sprang to mind: Smugglers Run. Remember that launch title for the PS2? It was so unique; an open-world driving game that featured different vehicles, a few different landscapes, and a bunch of missions that involved madcap driving across all sorts of terrain. It was usually a race to the goods, and Ubisoft’s next-gen production sounds like a much deeper, bigger, more advanced version of that concept. And provided it doesn’t feel too much like an MMO, I think I’m gonna like it.
A street-racing gang called the 510s are king of the hill, and you must find a way to take ‘em down. This involves participating in high-octane point-to-point races as well as adrenaline-fueled Takedown-type challenges. Those who remember the iconic Takedowns in the Burnout series know exactly what I’m talking about; basically, you just have to eliminate the competition by whatever means necessary. And the insanity won’t be limited to roads, either, as off-road driving is a big part of the experience, so be prepared to break the boundaries of a standard racer. This is about driving domination on an ultra-grand scale, and it sounds like loads of fun.
You may have heard of Driveclub, the PS4 launch game that appears to be designed for car lovers. It’s mostly about living the high life and focusing on your ride, which would be similar to something like Test Drive Unlimited 2. Developer Ivory Tower (a new team that features many former employees of Eden Games, which created the TDU titles) has created a vast landscape ripe for exploring. Team up with your pals, participate in the necessary customization and preparation, and tackle the competition. You can expect the cars to have a certain weight to them, as the gameplay should be a heady blend of arcade style and simulation elements.
As an example of the kind of vehicular brutality you will encounter, the demo Ubisoft showed to the press consisted of a group attack on one vehicle. A group of four players worked together to take down a large 4x4, which had an HP bar that would drain with each successful strike. It’s not as easy as it sounds, either, as the truck has plenty of strength and there’s a time limit. What other craziness might we participate in when playing? Well, bear in mind that this game may have shades of Driver: San Francisco, as ex-Reflections workers are also involved in the project. With an all-star development cast for a driving game, our expectations are high.
You will earn experience points as you play, which can be used to unlock new upgrades and modifications for your chosen vehicle. They’ll also provide you with a companion app that will let you customize while on the go. Overall, The Crew has plenty of promise, especially because it’s not just about going fast. Strategy and teamwork will be essential for ultimate success, and we should feel driven to earn more and more experience. …get it? “Driven?” Let’s see if Ivory Tower and Ubisoft can impress us when this title hits store shelves some time early next year.
9/30/2013 Ben Dutka