A year ago Ubisoft introduced gamers to The Crew, a racing MMO that focussed on putting players together in an experience that spans all over North America. Riddled with great ideas and ambition, the game still never lived up to the expectations that the developer and players had set. But now we’re a year later, and Ubisoft is giving the game a second chance at life with The Crew: Wild Run, a large expansion that foregoes the narration that the base game came bagged with and sets players up with some more extreme additions and fixes that do change the game in a lot of ways.Starting at the graphical presentation, it isn’t hard to ignore the fact that last year’s release wasn’t much of a looker. Aliasing, texture and other issues were very apparent, but a year later the tides have turned somewhat, and along with the new additions of Wild Run’s arsenal it also throws a pretty significant graphical upgrade into the mix, which is why this release of the new expansion warrants a redo when it comes to reviewing the game’s graphical aspects.
The first thing you need to know about The Crew is that it isn’t a contender to be the most graphically ambitious title out there. But that’s not to say that the current iteration of the game doesn’t deserve a shout-out of its own. The first thing you need to know about the world of The Crew is its monstrous size. The game spans the entirety of North America (in an abridged fashion of course), which provides players with a vast variety of environments. Wether you’re driving through the streets of New York or along the coasts of California, there’s something in it for anyone who’s looking for a change of scenery. Environments in general are decently detailed, though urban areas are often a little limited when it comes to detail in the geometry of structures. The natural aspects of The Crew do fare better, which is also thanks to the visual upgrade that the title has received. The title update for Wild Run has given the game an edge when it comes to the visual presentation of the world, but the fact that its nature is still quite dated in comparison to many current generation racing games is still apparent.That being said, The Crew: Wild Run does introduce some new tricks to the game’s arsenal. Dynamic weather and lighting improvements have been made as the team at Ivory Tower has made attempts at creating a more lively game world for players to experience. The only issue here is that the dynamic weather system is often quite under-utilised. For example, despite the effects on handling and traction by rain, the actual visual implantation seems to be quite underwhelming in comparison to other games out there such as Forza Horizon 2, which would probably be the most fitting title to compare The Crew to when it comes to visual and gameplay ambitions.
That being said, despite the dated nature of the game’s visuals, it does improve upon what was an even more dated title that launched a little over a year ago. But where the game makes improvements, it also leaves some issues standing without any fixes whatsoever. The UI could be described as intuitive, but its nature is much more visually intrusive than originally anticipated. Elements of the UI are often blocking essential real estate during gameplay, which is especially apparent when menu elements block most of your view of oncoming traffic during gameplay. These are pre-existing issues, but none the less things that could have been addressed whilst refining the game for Wild Run.The fundamental difference between the vanilla version of The Crew and Wild Run is that the latter expansion pack focusses completely upon the arcade aspect of the game. Rather than throwing players into a forgettable story Wild Run introduces ‘The Summit’, a large festival that consists of a selection of events that range from monster truck rally’s to motorcycle races, which in many ways does seem like a natural evolution considering the audience that the game has been trying to attract for quite a while. In order to register for The Summit, players must first go through ranges of events where they’ll have to earn their entry into the main event, which is essentially where your career in Wild Run starts off.The contents of Wild Run are divided between full-fledged events and so-called FreeDrive challenges, which are challenges that can be done on the fly whilst exploring the open world. For instance, you’ll have to overtake an X amount of cars on your side of the road or maintain a certain speed for the duration of the challenge, which will provide you with XP and points for upgrades, and in a lot of cases the upgrades themselves as well. These additions are decent at best, but very repetitive and sometimes even nonsensical in nature. This is due to the fact that the difficulty curve of these challenges are sometimes questionable at best, with certain events being very questionable when it comes to pulling them off, without taking player skill into consideration of course.