‘The Crew’ Closed Beta Impressions

The Crew, the racing game which touts allowing players to drive from coast to coast across the USA without encountering a single loading screen, had its closed beta this past weekend and Analog Addiction was fortunate enough to gain access. Very little about the plot or premise of The Crew has been revealed up until now, although the beta has provided insight as to why you are driving across the entire country and what the end-goal of the entire experience shall be.

The Plot

The Crew‘s plot seems to be based around street gangs and attempting to infiltrate a criminal organization in the name of revenge and easing your own situation. At the beginning of the beta, the protagonist’s brother, the leader of the 5-10’s, is shot by a fellow gang member and the FBI show up (in)conveniently just in time to find you holding your dead brother in your arms with the gun used to kill him laying on the ground nearby. Without asking any questions, the agents simply check the brother’s pulse, declare him dead, and promptly arrest you for murder. The game then shifts to several years later while you are in jail and another agent is meeting with you to discuss possibly going undercover. The proposal offered to the player is a reduced sentence and revenge for his brother’s murder in exchange for you working your way into the street gang your brother was the leader of, getting evidence against the true murdered who is now the leader of the 5-10’s, and managing to bring down the dirty FBI agent who arrested you in the process.

What follows is the protagonist agreeing to do it simply for revenge, although never rejecting the reduced sentence, and spending time racing on the streets in various cities across the country in order to work his way up the gang’s ladder. At no point during the beta did I feel as if the plot or writing were very strong, and several lines even had me cringing. There are the inevitable double crosses you would expect to find in any gang-themed game, but there will always be someone else always willing to help you achieve your goal, and the map continues to expand as you progress through the story. One detail which seems to be glossed over too easily is that in order to become a member of the 5-10’s, an official 5-10 tattoo is required and neither the FBI agent nor the protagonist have even the slightest hesitation in having this permanent modification to the body occur in the name of joining a criminal organization the protagonist never had any intention of truly belonging to in the first place.


It becomes apparent the minute you take control of a car that the game itself is an arcade style racer rather than a simulation. Different cars will handle differently, but only in regards to turning and acceleration. If you choose to drive through fields and fences, you are more than welcome to, although there is roughly a 50% chance that the object will simply remain standing as if nothing had just driven through it. In the recent Forza Horizon 2, any object you drive through in that game will break and continue to hit other cars, while in The Crew, the object will either disappear quickly or remain in place as you coast through it not unlike a ghost. The other significant issue with the driving is the way your car reacts any time you collide with an object. Whether it happens to be a wall, curb, or another car, your vehicle will spin wildly out of control in a horribly over-dramatic fashion. You may expect to bounce off of a wall slightly if you make contact while driving, but the game will throw your vehicle into a 180 degree spin across the entire road. The exact same thing will happen if you collide with another car, and if you happen to be drifting around a corner and come across a curb, you can fully expect your vehicle to lose all control for the next second or two.

If you decide to ignore the plot races for a while and opt to simply track down all of the optional side content, there are a plethora of challenges to complete, offering rewards of experience points, cash, and car parts. These challenges are a welcome addition as they provide tasks of varying difficulty and reward players on a scale based on their performance. There are also landmarks for the player to find scattered throughout every city in the game, although they are incredibly underwhelming. When one thinks of a landmark, they tend to think of significant monuments or something that stands out, however more often than not, The Crew‘s idea of a landmark is a neighbourhood, trailer park, or generic factory. Locating a landmark results in an experience reward, but the desire to locate them is entirely absent as they are not special in any way unless you live in the United States and want to see if your own neighbourhood happens to be included in the game. You will unfortunately find that while ignoring the main events and doing your own thing, you will be hounded by the main characters to make your way over to the next primary event. If you are someone who frequently ignores main quests in the name of exploration or finding upgrades, this will irritate you to no end.

You are able to purchase additional cars, modify them with various parts, and get them tuned to suit different terrains you may race on, although while playing the beta, the car parts did not feel like they made significant differences as you progressed. I’m sure if you were to control a car with stock parts and then switch to one with a new part in each category you could easily identify a difference, but because the cars level up slowly with each new part, there differences are rarely, if ever, felt.


My sentiments towards what I experienced in The Crew‘s beta can be best described as Grand Theft Auto IV without the ability to leave your vehicle or do any of the things that people love about the GTA series. There is an open world filled with people, traffic, and police, but the pedestrians all jump out of the way before you can hit them, the police begin to search for you the second you so much as touch a fence with your vehicle, the driving mechanics are not up to par, and there is a gang-related plot that happens to exist but lacks key factors for the player to become emotionally invested in any way. Occasionally you will find yourself having to escape from other gang members through damaging their vehicles until they are all defeated or winding your way through fields and streets so that they lose all sight of you. These events are nice change from driving to race after race with the odd takedown mission thrown in for good measure but offer only a brief reprieve.

Other players may join your “crew” but in the beta there was a cap of three other players and they were not necessarily engaging in the same events as you, simply existing within your world simultaneously. If you drive to an event, you could invite the others to join you, but they could just as easily ignore the request and suddenly what has been touted as a significant multiplayer and co-op experience is a solo game. When minor issues like this are combined with the questionable driving mechanics and a plot which does not really motivate the player, the result is a game which feels truly unpolished. It is possible that there will be changes made before release, but it is so close now that unless a major delay occurs, the final product will likely encounter many of these issues as well.

The Crew is scheduled for a December 2, 2014 release on the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, and Playstation 4. Will you be picking it up or passing on it? Did you have access to the closed beta? If you did, tell us what you thought of it below!