I first got my hands on The Crew at E3 2013. Granted, it was brief, but I did get to experience endlessly driving across a countryside with no end in sight. The concept of The Crew had me immensely excited too. Aside from the MMO-like structure that populated the world with other real-life players, the size of the map was absolutely huge, mimicking a condensed version of the United States. All of that built up my excitement for the game so much.
And then the game released…
From horrible handling, to extremely subpar graphics, inconsistent framerate and some odd visual glitches, The Crew ended up being a big disappointment to me. Ivory Tower's efforts were lost on me after that.
But then Wild Run came out.
I'll admit, I wasn't willing to give the game a second chance. Not after being so disappointed with the vanilla version. We actually never ended up getting a review code for the expansion, which I honestly looked at as a blessing. But then The Crew Complete Edition was listed on Xbox One for $20. Since it came with the base game, Wild Run expansion and Season Pass, I thought, why the hell not, I'll give it one more chance. For the price too, it was too good to pass up. Man, am I glad I did. It's become my nightly game since then, and I can't seem to stop.
You see, a lot of changes happened to the game since Wild Run came out. Slight changes to handling, a big graphical overhaul and of course all the new Summit content from the expansion. However, the best part is that you don't even need Wild Run to make the game better! The graphical enhancements are just a simple patch away. Aside from the game looking better, it also runs a lot better. Sure, the PC version is still superior with its 60fps, but the consoles seem to be locked at 30, making the entire experience a lot smoother.
Now the world also feels a lot more alive thanks to a dynamic weather system, previously not present in the game, and as a result, sometimes the game manages to look even better than EA's recent reboot of Need for Speed. That's impressive.
Those that actually do invest in the Wild Run expansion, will find a lot of really great content. First and foremost, the game introduces three new vehicle classes; Monster, Drift and Drag. Monster will essentially add four giant wheels and an undercarriage to a slew of existing vehicles. There is nothing funnier than seeing a Fiat Abarth Monster Truck doing flips. Drag, which happens to be my favorite of the three, harkens back to the older days of Need for Speed Underground, where the entire thing plays out like a short series of mini-games. First you have to rev up your tires, then step on the gas at the right time, and then time your shifts perfectly. The speed is absolutely bonkers during these segments. Lastly, Drift, which is something I usually enjoy in racing games, feels a little too floaty in The Crew. The only thing it has going for it is that crashing into objects while drifting doesn't reset your score, like other games. The expansion also introduces motorcycles.
Then there's the smaller gameplay details, like adding in a Freedrive and Stunt mode which will give you various instant challenges that you can complete simply by driving from location to location. Some of these are also pre-requisites for the bigger Summit challenges. The Summit can most easily be compared to Forza Horizon's Festival.
What I'm trying to say is, despite there being tons to do in typical Ubisoft open-world fashion, The Crew is now totally worth playing, even if you don't opt into buying the expansion. The world, now being more gorgeous than ever, practically begs to be driven through and fully explored, and the racing itself now seems tighter than ever.
I have to give props to Ivory Tower. After the lukewarm reception of The Crew, they could have easily thrown in the towel and called it a day, but instead, they opted to fix what was wrong, and better yet, build on it in meaningful ways.
While that discount is no longer available on Xbox One, the base game is currently on sale for $14.99 on PSN for PS Plus members.