For those of us who love racing games and are absolute hardcore motorsport enthusiasts, The Crew 2 is where it's at. It's, ahem, a far cry from the original. Ivory Tower has spent the last three years tweaking the formula, and it's a night and day difference in terms of handling, which in turn lends itself it to a much more enjoyable open-world racer. It shouldn't be understated how important handling improvements are. When The Crew launched back in 2015, it was as if Ivory Tower had taken a gorgeous petrol-driven sports car and filled it up with diesel.

A number of critics have complained about the addition of other disciplines to The Crew 2 in the run-up to its release. However, the sheer variety is what makes this game so much fun to play, particularly with friends. It is after all, called The Crew. Die-hard motorsport fans are fans of any discipline, from something as small as motocross to powerboat racing. It's actually pleasing to see they've added something different to make The Crew 2 stand out, and boy does it. No doubt many of you played the closed and open beta tests, but for those who didn't, rest assured The Crew 2 is, without doubt, one of the most fun racing games to play with friends, kicking back on the open roads. You can spend an hour and a half just driving the back country roads from Seattle, Oregon to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Being a resident of Massachusetts and the tri-state area, they've gotten the scenery and the cities pretty much dead on. From doing burnouts in Times Square to earn an achievement, to taking a plane and taking pictures of Cape Cod Bay and the Provincetown Pilgrim Monument. It's incredibly immersive considering the sheer scale of what Ivory Tower is working with. Problems arise if you stop the car and really begin to pick holes in the world design, but it's a damn fine caricature of the United States. 

The Crew 2 starts off with a prologue to the main game and then a prologue for each of the four available disciplines. They baby the player somewhat but it does give an idea of what each discipline has to offer for racing fans. And that's where the fun begins. You can street race trying to farm money to buy some fancy hypercars, or drift around with 900bhp trying to beat a world record in the leaderboards. If that doesn't do it for you, you can always buy a hypercar, upgrade it all the way and just cruise on the highways doing 320+kmh/200+mph, the way the other cars blow by is very realistic, so is the way the drift car alignment and movement is set up. It's very well realised and thoroughly researched. Despite the attention to detail though, it's important not to forget that this isn't F1 or Grid Autosport in terms of realistic vehicle handling. The Crew 2 is very much an arcade style game. One where crashing really hard will reset the car with no visible damage or physics type damage. In one Touring Car race, it's even possible to bounce off a wall at 250kmh and just keep driving giving you a huge time gap between you and the AI car behind. The Crew 2 definitely doesn't pass off as a simulation then, but is a more casual pick-up-and-play experience that's especially fun with a friend or three.

Some people may not like the arcade style gameplay. For me, I adore the openness of it all. It's reminiscent of Need for Speed although with slightly more realistic handling. Cars can actually go around a corner without an insane drift (unless you're in your drift car of course) at high speeds and stick on the road not sliding around. It's very enjoyable to play, especially with friends but can also be very fun on your own. The Crew 2 is perfecting for banging on some tunes and just heading off around the country looking for loot boxes (they contain performance and visual upgrade parts).

Despite Ivory Tower sticking their fingers in a lot of pies, every racing discipline is a joy to play. Although there's a bit of grinding to go from normal difficulty races to hard, the core is pretty enjoyable. Each discipline has a decent spread of different races, all unlocked by gaining followers from taking part in races and driving recklessly. That's the beauty of The Crew 2. It's not just about racing, it's also about the pure joy of driving, be it a plane cross country or a boat from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and ending your trip in Key West at your home location. 

Whether you're a solo player or a member of a renowned crew, there's something for everyone. Progression is quite a bit easier compared to The Crew though and this one area where some changes should perhaps be made. Ivory Towers has changed the number of followers needed between leveling up but within a couple of hours you can already be famous. 

If you're absolutely sure that The Crew 2 is your thing already then buying the more expensive Gold Edition for release makes the most sense. It includes a season pass for the first year and some extra content. As most of us have played some Uplay games we all have Uplay points we can convert into a 20% off Ubisoft Club coupon. You also start off with quite a few extra vehicles as well, including the season pass exclusive 1993 Porsche 911 3.6 Turbo, quite a fun car to drive as well, especially painted in pink. Ubisoft is going with a Rainbow Six Siege approach for The Crew 2, including new content and updates on a tri-monthly basis which should keep players engaged in the long term.

Tech Report

The graphics have definitely seen a downgrade from the E3 2017 preview. Although that might bother some people, The Crew 2 still looks fantastic. From a technical standpoint, it's a bit unfortunate that The Crew 2 is capped at either 30 and 60fps but it runs very smoothly in both.  That being said, I have noticed a little more stutter/lag in the release version then the open beta which I found odd. We're not sure if it's the game auto-saving/cloud-saving or if it's something else entirely. Nvidia did release a game-ready driver for The Crew 2 but there's been nothing yet from the AMD camp. Having played around with the settings a little it appears that Screen Space Reflections may be to blame. This graphics setting is very intensive and dropped my frame rate from a locked 60 down to high 40s.

I would also like to thank member Henry11 for giving me feedback in the closed and open beta on his Nvidia/Ryzen rig and on any issues we had during the game. Alt-tabbing out of the game will break the connection and give you a connectivity issue in-game, also if someone disconnects the race ends no matter who disconnects. He did seem to have crashes while running afterburner but I did not encounter this. 

Summary

Overall, The Crew 2 comes recommended to any motorsport and racing fan. The progression is far too easy for seasons racing gamers but the overall package is one of absolute freedom across once of the grandest open worlds yet devices. They have a few things wrong as well, ie making brake bias to the rear does not decrease braking distance, the front brakes usually being way bigger then the rears they have it backwards, front bias is usually best, but little things like that can be patched up. The only key downsides are the aforementioned progression systems and a slight drop in visual quality from the initial reveal.