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DoubleTake: The Crew

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Posted on August 21, 2013 AT 01:00am

Cruis’n USA

Ray When The Crew was revealed at E3, I admit I was actually excited, even as a more casual racing gamer. The idea of speeding across an open world is something that made me enjoy games like Forza Horizon—and end up ultimately disappointed with games like Need for Speed: The Run. But that idea of freedom—just you, the open road, and some friends completing a variety of objectives—still gets my blood pumping. I mean, its supposed to take 90 minutes to get coast to coast in this game, and then you can go back again. There’s supposed to be no limits to what you can do, so I was definitely looking forward to seeing how far The Crew may have come in the two months since we saw it at E3. But, Josh, you actually went hands-on with it at E3—you didn’t just see it. Have you seen a marked improvement since then here at Gamescom?
I have. During E3, I actually gave The Crew a boring rating, mostly due to the fact that the handling felt entirely off, too slippery to work as either a proper arcade racer or a sim. It might just be that I was driving a different car—and that I was mostly off-roading—but it definitely seemed a bit better this time around. While it’s still not as tight as a Criterion game in terms of nailing that intuitive, pick-up-and-play feel, they’ve made decent progress, and I hope they make more. Even if it doesn’t get the driving perfect, I feel like the depth of the game might wind up making up for it. There’s the map, which you mentioned, but we also saw a lot more of the vehicle customization—and, boy, it’s a doozy. The number of tweaks you could make was absurd, and being able to see them play out in real time, with the car deconstructing to show you how the new part looked with the engine running, was neat. I honestly think this is a racing game that could help people, myself included, learn more about how cars actually work. What’d you think of all the customization? Josh
Ray I loved the customization—especially the fact that you could even do it on the fly if, for a certain race, you needed a special kind of tire, for example. There’s no need to go back to your headquarters, deconstruct the car, and then go back to the mission. But for those wannabe gearheads out there, this is the most detail a game has ever given to the most minute aspects of a car. To see the engine pistons pump when testing out new engine parts, or how new treads on your tires would look—the customization blew me away. Speaking of the headquarters, though, there’s a lot more than just storing your garage there and tweaking your vehicles to perfection. We got to see different drivers, as well as the perk and comfort system that starts to scratch the surface of the game’s RPG elements.
Yeah, the perk/comfort stuff looked surprisingly deep, so much so that I’m eager to see what all of the different options are. From the brief glimpse we had, it seems like they’ll allow you to specialize your playstyle quite a bit. I noticed one for reducing the amount you’re fined if you get pulled over by the cops, and another for increasing the XP you get when you finish a mission cooperatively. I really hope none of them are overtly performance-based, though, since it might get annoying to play online competitively or compete on the leaderboards if there’s some ridiculous perk setup that lets you drive a pickup truck at 700 miles an hour. Oh, that’s the other thing I liked—the online play. It’s a nice touch that you can party up with your friends without being locked into playing all of the same events and missions they are. If the other three people in your group are playing a mission and you just want to goof off for a while longer, you can. I like that. What I’m not as sold on is the idea that other players in your party can give you credit for completing a mission, even if you mess up and don’t personally finish before time runs out. That might actually cause me to play it single-player only. Josh

Ray Yeah, I hear that, but I like the idea of if I get really stuck on a mission, I can call up a couple of buddies and get them to play with me. And I can’t imagine doing some of those missions where you have to take down another car with anything but four people. But it’s a personal preference, and the fact that they give you the option makes it so less-experienced racing gamers can still advance in the story and be satisfied. What impressed me even more, though, is that the devs now think the story mode will clock in somewhere between the 30-to-35 hour range. Any longer, and they might want to start thinking of this as a Japanese RPG.
I mean, I buy that it’ll be that long, if not longer, given the sheer size of the world. I played Fuel, which was way bigger, but The Crew‘s much less empty than that disaster of a game ever was. I had a chance to tool around the Vegas Strip a bit, and while it’s certainly not on par with something like GTA in terms of detail, I was pretty impressed. They had fictionalized versions of all the major casinos, and they even had a respectable version of Fremont Street. I love going to digitized versions of places that I’ve been to in real life, so if the rest of the cities in the game have that much attention to detail, I’m totally sold. I won’t even do any of the missions. I’ll just drive around at respectable speeds, obey all traffic laws, and see the sights. Josh
Ray Well, you can obey all the laws you want as I take a souped-up Camaro and drive through cornfields in the breadbasket of the U.S. or fly over perfectly placed ramps on the Florida Keys. Laws were made to be broken, Josh. We’ll have to see who has more fun doing what when The Crew comes out in early 2014.

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