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The Crew 2 Review - Arcade racing at its finest

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I am a very picky gamer when it comes to racing games. Simulation racers are fun but I prefer a more arcade experience. GT Sport, for example, was just not enough to keep me going and Project CARS 2 was so hard that I gave just gave up playing it. Sometimes all you want to do it hold down the accelerator and drive like a maniac through the city streets without worrying about how the heat of the road is affecting your tire pressure and how your suspension is giving you less torque. 

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The Crew 2 is just that. It can only be described as a racer that is packed with stupid fun as you take on all the various racing types across the great open world map that spans the entire United States of America. The Crew 2 is crammed full with so much to see and do that it always kept me entertained and as soon as I got bored racing the same type of car I was able to switch things up and jump in a Jetstream boat and race through the canals of Los Vegas. 

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It is the sheer amount of race types in The Crew 2 that makes it so versatile and exciting. Even halfway through playing the game, I did not even try all of them. This was mainly because you have to own one specific vehicle of each Race Discipline to be able to attempt the series of races it has to offer. The Hyper Car race selection obviously means you need to own a supercar and those machines are damn expensive. This meant I had to focus my attention on the other races to rack up some cash to be able to afford a car in order to participate in that specific set of races.

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There are four Race Disciplines in The Crew 2 with each of them containing three to four race types. Street Racing includes Drift, Drag Race, Hyper Car and Street Racing. Off Road includes Rally Raid, Moto Cross and Rally Cross. Free Style is the fun Discipline that packs Aerobatics, Jet Sprint and Monster Truck. Lastly, you have the Pro Racing discipline that revolves around Power Boat, Touring Car, Air Race and Alpha GP. This is the more sophisticated Race Discipline that takes on the elegant styles of racing with a Formula One equivalent and a classic track racing experience.

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It does feel overwhelming at first starting up the game and seeing all these different race types but after diving in, The Crew 2 progresses at a decent rate which sees you racing in different events, racking up “Followers” and gaining new popularity levels to unlock more races. Some types are locked until you prove yourself to the world and some specific maps are also locked until you reach the required “celebrity level” such as Famous, Icon, Star etc. The more you race, the more followers you get. It is a simple progression system that works for the game’s steep difficulty curve.

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I mainly entered the Street Racing events at first as they were a great introduction to the game. Each Race Discipline gives you one car to start out with but you can buy anything at any time as long as you have the cash to fund it. Street Racing was exactly what it sounds like. You and seven other drivers scooting through the city streets to get to the end. Instead of a typical track system, The Crew 2 uses percentages to show you how far you are in the race. When you get to 95% and you are eighth, chances are you are going to lose the race.

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As I progressed through the game I unlocked more and took on more race types. I often found myself determined to fully complete each style before moving on but I also got bored and decided to jump into a new race. Flying through the air in an Air Race is great but every now and then you feel like taking your Mercedes Benz AMG around a well-rounded race track. It is impressive to see just how unique each of these race types actually are and once you have everything unlocked by owning a vehicle for each one and have the required level to enter them, the game is truly one of the best arcade racers you can find.

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From bashing through a forest as I climbed up a mountain in the Rally Road, to perfectly timing my R2 button to get the best gear change in my Drift race to even racing my monster truck over ramps and up walls to get points in the Monster Truck event. There is so much to experience in The Crew 2 that even if one race type does not tickle your fancy, chances are a dozen more will.

The Crew 2 is open world and you can explore it at your own will. You can change from a car, boat or plane at any time making exploration seamless. If you can see it, you can go there and the world is massive spanning the entire USA. While that is an ambitious move and it has some beauty behind it all, there is really nothing forcing you to actually spend time in the open world. Sure, each Race Discipline has Skills to complete which range from escaping an expanding growing circle which you have to race away from in time to flying through rings in a specific position. These Skills are scattered around the world but you can also access them in the Activities tab making finding them easier than actually exploring the large open world. You can also drive around and track down photo opportunities but like the Skills, you can also start these from your menu.  

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Even exploring the open world with friends just lacks excitement. Every now and then you will track down a Live Crate containing loot but other than that, the world feels empty. I was happy just going to each race through my menu and when that was done going to the next one the same way. I do applaud Ubisoft for working so hard on creating a great open world but The Crew 2 could have worked without it too.

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The game has close to 60 different vehicle brands each containing a set amount of cars and different versions of each car for each race type too. You can buy a Ford Focus for drifting, street racing, track racing and even off-road races. The same goes for other brands too that offer a wide range of cars to suit each race type in The Crew 2. The vehicle roster is impressive, to say the least. Renault, BMW, Ford, Mercedes, and Ferrari you name it and it’s there. It was actually hard to find a brand that was not in the game. The same can be said for boats and planes as there is a fair share of manufacturers offering all sorts of plane and boat makes too. I am not familiar with any of them at all but they are actually real.  

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Each vehicle can be purchased with cash and Crew 2 Credits which acts as the in-game purchase money. I never had the urge to ever spend my Crew Credits I racked up as I always had enough cash for the vehicle I wanted to buy but the fact that it was an option was great too. If you are worried about it being unbalanced then don’t be as the credits never became a problem for me at all. Each race awards you with a great deal of cash even if you lose so just playing the game racks you up enough to buy that bucket list Hyper Car.

Where The Crew 2 suffers is from its shallow mod system. Every race you complete rewards you with a loot drop that drops car parts for your vehicle type. These parts range from visual mods to actual car improvements. While I would love to say the Crew 2 has a deep customization system it is actually much simpler than I hoped for. Each mod has a Performance Level on it and when equipped to a specific slot raises the average level of your car. Each race has a requirement and each level you have makes your car faster while harder to handle. Mods increase max speed, power, acceleration etc but that is about it.

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After a while, I just saw myself gaining mods and placing them into my vehicle without really caring or worrying about what they did as long as my max Performance Level when up. It takes you away from the detailed aspect of owning a car and the mods feel like just a mindless grind to get the highest Performance Level the fastest way possible. This also means that there is no real incentive to buying two cars for the same race type as you can keep the first ever car you get for free and just increase its performance using these mods until it is just as fast as the fastest car in the game.  This is mainly because each vehicle type has a max Performance Level regardless of how fast it actually is in real life.

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Loot also comes in different rarities with the pink drop being one of the best. These pink mods also come with buffs such as nitro increasing at a specific rate faster than usual and increasing loot drop by a specific percentage too. You just keep placing these mods in until you get something higher and then never think about it again. You also get nothing from dismantling these mods which is strange as you are basically destroying your rewards with nothing in return

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Lastly, modding also includes visual tweaks that come in the form of paint jobs which you can apply created by Ubisoft and people around the world as well as actual visual parts that you can find in loot drops. These parts are not as dramatic as I hoped and they range from a handful of different hoods to bumpers. Don’t expect anything close to the Need for Speed: Underground days as you will not find it here. However, there something satisfying about an awesome dragon flying across the side of your car.

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The Crew 2 works when it comes to racing. It has an amazing selection of some diverse racing types. From flying through the air pulling off tricks to racing your boat across the giant open ocean off the coast of Los Angeles. It really has it all. While it suffers from a lacklustre modding system, its racing is top-notch and there is a load of fun to be had. It has no PvP mode as of now but it is coming later this year. I, however, believe that it is still a fantastic arcade racer without it and even better with a crew of friend at your side. 

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This review was conducted based on a review code sent to us by Ubisoft.

Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 29 June 2018 | RRPR999

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