When I think back on my time traversing the open-world of street racing and smuggling in The Crew, two events spring to mind. The first is the long hours I spent waiting, tapping away on my laptop patiently as the hour-long video I’d recorded on the weekend uploaded to YouTube.
I wanted to play but couldn’t, in the full knowledge that my experience would be interrupted, courtesy of the persistent open-world Ivory Tower had created. The Crew is an online-only game, and while server crashes, unsavoury opponents and unstable conditions had been largely absent from my experience — a state of affairs that is far from a given these days — I was forced to curb my enthusiasm.
The second was when my excitement at breaking new ground by visiting the sun and sand of Las Vegas was rudely interrupted by a decidedly bizarre cutscene. A hacker by the name of Roxanne chose to introduce herself in a diner by “hacking” the phone of the protagonist, Alex (nice name), and demanding his help in finding her sister, who had become lost in the underground world of the 5-10 gang.
What was less necessary was the sexual advances that followed only a few seconds afterward, as if Ivory Tower were concerned that they hadn’t met their Hollywood quota of shoehorning enough love interests into the game. The framing and the tone deafness of the flirting was brief, but jarring.
These moments sum up The Crew perfectly – an enjoyable open-world racer, frequently, but only briefly, interrupted by infuriating slices of incompetence, whether that be the teleporting frustration of a player in the United States sending you off-course during your skill run, the presence of microtransactions, no dynamic weather and the most aggressive rubber-banding I’ve ever seen, to mention a few.
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