The Crew: Wild Run
Developer: Ivory Tower
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC (Reviewed)
Release Date: October 17th, 2015
Price: $24.99 USD – Available Here / $39.99 AUD – Available Here (Also available on PSN, Xbox Live and Steam)
The Crew launched towards the end of 2014 to mixed reception. The map was highly praised for its gigantic size and variety but much of the games other aspects fell flat among reviewers and the game was often mocked for being hard to find people to play with despite the “Never Drive Alone” tagline. Now The Crew Wild Run expansion has been released, focusing on extreme specs such as Drift, Monster Truck and Drag as well as adding Motorbikes and all new Summit event along with some other new features but does this expansion do enough to bring people back to The Crew? Please note, this review will focus largely on the contents of the Wild Run expansion only. For our full review of the initial game which still largely reflects the quality of the game even a year on, head here.
The Crew: Wild Run does not contain any new story elements outside of a few tutorials provided by the lead female undercover agent from the original title. This is a bit of a missed opportunity to expand upon the 510 faction story and maybe focus on some of the other characters that were introduced, but considering anyone coming back to The Crew after a long break probably doesn’t remember a thing about the story I’m sure this isn’t an issue for most.
Wild Run adds a decent amount of new content to The Crew and perhaps the most exciting one is The Summit, a multi-day timed event that pits players against one another over eleven different events for a chance at a substantial reward. The Summit was exactly what The Crew needed to bring players back, encouraging real life constant competition and gameplay variety in the events. I can’t praise it enough. To compete in the monthly summit you have to earn a qualifier medal from at least one weekly qualifier event. If you manage to earn enough medals from the monthly Summits, you will be invited to participate in the Finale Summit which will take place in one year from now. Each summit seems to take place in a different section of the map, which is a great use of the games best asset.
The game encourages you to compete in each of the different events at least once, however if you’re a fan of say time trials you can continue to run that as even shaving off a second could see you jump several 100 spots on the leader board and each event also has it’s own positional leader board. A constantly updated leader board provides you with your current medal rank which will ultimately decide your chance of getting a reward, with the ultimate reward being an exclusive car not yet released in game for the top percentage of players, each rank lower then that gives you a lower chance to win the car but the other rewards aren’t that bad either. A nice bonus of The Summit is that it has made finding multiplayer matches much easier as a lot of people are gathered around the event.
Unfortunately there are a couple of obvious hackers who have stolen top places on the leader boards but most of it is legit. A few exploits in the events also attempts to ruin the fun, I for instance am currently ranked 39th out of 10,000 or so players in the Monster Truck event, basically because I figured out sitting in front of a ramp constantly doing back flips was the most efficient way to earn points. This is the first summit so hopefully problems like this will be ironed out in the future.
The other major addition to the game with the Wild Run expansion was new vehicles. We now have several new motorbikes to choose from which fit into the games five previous specs such as dirt and performance. The bikes are a welcome breath of fresh air to the experience and while I would have liked them to handle a little “looser” they are very fun to drive and allow you to do things you couldn’t in cars such as jump from a waterway onto the freeway for example. My only problem with the bikes is the way they are handled in some situation. Most crashes just result in you unrealistically stopping dead as there don’t seem to be any crash physics implemented for the bikes. Also when coming down mountains with tight turns, riding the barriers is by far the most efficient way to turn the corners as it comes with no speed drop what so ever which is ridiculous in a racer.
In addition to bikes three new specs have also been introduced which all vary wildly. Easily my favourite is the Monster Truck spec. Nearly every car, even a small hatchback can be turned into a Monster Truck and while these are pretty boring to drive around the world (you can’t crush other cars sadly), they are heaps of fun to drive in the designated arena area which is full of ramps, half pipes, steps and raised areas which are all as fun to drive up as they sound. The Monster Truck spec really shines in PvP, where the Crown game mode challenges you to hold on to a crown to gain points while everyone chases you trying to steal it for themselves.
The Drag Spec is next best and has a huge focus on going extremely fast in straight lines. These cars top speeds will easily pass even your best performance or circuit spec and are fun to drive although a little limited because of their unique functionality. The actual drag races are executed well, with what is basically a combination of two mini games testing your reaction time and accuracy to get that perfect run. These are good fun the first few times but do get repetitive quickly. You can also take these cars out in to the real world to get some massive speed and do awesome jumps such as the ramp that has been added to the grand canyon so you can try and replicate that moment from The Simpsons where Homer tries to jump the gorge.
Easily the worst new spec in my opinion is the Drift Spec. The Drift Spec basically makes it so your car’s tyres are made of ice in what should really be called Slide Spec. This is a long, long way from the satisfying and challenging to pull off drift’s seen in the recent Need for Speed game. The gameplay creates it’s own sense of challenge as there is some slight skill in maintaining a drift but it just looks and feels wrong and it’s too long before you come completely bored with the spec.
Apart from the big ticket items a few new cars, some new skills and Freedrive Stunts and Freedrive Challenges have been added to the game. Freedrive Stunts can be activated at anytime during free roam and challenge you to a random task such as drive in oncoming traffic for 2km or overtake a certain number of cars. These are fun distractions you can partake in while free roaming around the map and you have a Freedrive Stunt level you can increase although
Freedrive Challenges finally give players a much requested feature and that is the ability to create their own race. Users simply place checkpoints anywhere on the giant map and then challenge their crew or anyone around to the track (unfortunately you can’t race these on your own for whatever reason). You get rewarded with an appropriate amount of cash dependent on the races length once you complete it which gives some reason for you to do this outside of fun which is a nice bonus. You are limited to sprint races but could probably make a circuit race if you got creative. Like the summit, both these Freedrive additions play to the games greatest strength in it’s awesome world map.
Apparently the physics and car handling have been adjusted with the expansion although I can’t honestly comment on how different they are from before as it has been a while since I played the basic game. The handling system we have now though feels pretty good and I seldom struggled to feel like I was in complete control of my car at all times. There is some questionable and glitchy physics bugs that pop up every now and then but they are seldom seen and more during moments when you were probably driving poorly anyway.
In my original review I mentioned the evil of the games stingy economy and Crew Credits, the games form of alternate currency which is purchased with real dollars. Wild Run does little to alleviate this problem and in fact adds to the problem, with the new extreme specs costing around $500,000 per spec, per car making it very hard to just jump in a drag spec car and start enjoying it. For veteran players who have acquired some good means of making cash through rep and perks it isn’t too bad, but I feel sorry for new players just starting out as most of this new content on the games cover will be many hours away from being accessible. The game does let you choose one extreme spec starter kit at least so there’s that at least. The new way loot is distributed also makes it much harder for new players to gain max level parts as players only get slightly better parts (or now even stickers or visual car customisation parts which you didn’t used to get before) each time they complete a skill or mission. Be prepared for a lot of grinding if you want the best parts for your car.
Graphics & Audio
Like the physics the graphics have also received an overhaul with the Wild Run expansion and this time the difference is a little more noticeable. Everything has a more realistic feel to it, most in part to what appears to be a new lighting system. The graphics aren’t at the level of say Driveclub or Forza but I stand by the fact they are very good considering the size of the world and can still look superb at times, especially during sunset when the light catches the puddles that have been left on the road after a sun shower.
A big addition was the inclusion of dynamic weather. While it is rather limited to what seems to be sunny, raining, sun shower or cloudy this adds to an already impressive amount of variety with the world map. Weather isn’t just cosmetic as rain effects both paved surfaces and off road making driving a different experience in the conditions.
As for audio nothing of note has really been added here. The Monster Trucks sound mean and the bikes sound like bikes. I think Need for Speed spoiled us a little bit with it’s excellent sound design making the car sounds in The Crew seem underwhelming. Party tracks play while your in The Summit making it feel like a music festival car meet mash up which helps set the atmosphere but isn’t anything to write home about. No new music tracks have been added which is a shame as the track list was very weak to begin with.
The Summit is the key feature of this expansion and a very strong draw card, but if you’re not interested in multiplayer or competing for whatever reason then you can easily skip the Wild Run as the other features, while strong distractions, mostly center around The Summit and give you very little more to actually do in game. That being said if you’ve been wanting to get back into this massive open world racer then I think now is the time to do it as the game has more content then ever. The Crew has come a long way since it’s initial release and most of the games teething problems have been ironed out, offering a very solid open world, arcade racing experience. The price is one of my biggest problems here with the amount of new content here really pushing the value of $40 AUD, but if that is not an issue for you and you want to compete in the monthly Summit events then The Crew Wild Run is a solid and worthwhile expansion.
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