27/08/2013 13:21 BST | Updated 27/10/2013 09:12 GMT

'The Crew' Preview: We Play Test Ubisoft's New Road-Trip Racer

'The Crew' is Ubisoft's new multiplayer-focused racer set in an open-world USA where there are no limits to where you can go - or race. It's out in early 2014 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

The Pitch:

"Take part in a relentless ride to move up the ranks of the 510s, a gang grown around Detroit's illegal street racing scene - making a rep for yourself on the underground-racing scene and ultimately taking down their activities all across the United States.."

Key Features:

  • A truly open-world racer, where anywhere in the USA is open for you to explore
  • Deeply integrated multiplayer, where events can start at anytime - and anywhere
  • Huge customisation options, with crazy total conversions


Our Impressions:

'The Crew' got a lot of buzz amongst the tired press corp at Gamescom 2013 - which is surprising, because on paper there isn't a huge amount in 'The Crew' that you haven't seen before. Essentially Need For Speed set in a huge open-world environment, the game merges classic racing with varied terrain, always-connected multiplayer and the sort of 'hijinks' inspired action arguably best typified by Forza: Horizon and Driver San Francisco in recent years.

So why did the game get such a positive reaction? For one, it's the environments. The game takes place in a miniature United States which, in game terms, isn't that miniature at all. It would take more than 90 minutes to drive from New York to LA, according to the game's makers, which isn't bad - and when you consider that cities from New York, Miami, LA and many more are all included, plus a massive amount of off-road terrain the possibilities are virtually endless.

Then there's the customisation, which is a bit insane - you can take a Corvette, say, and convert it to an off-road mega truck, a hyped-up racer, a muscle car or any number of other variations. The system for doing so is quick and simple, but deep enough to keep your interest.

Ubisoft also stressed the deeply integrated multiplayer, in which your 'crew' can join up and start races, challenges and other events simply and without leaving the single-player game.

But mostly, the game impressed because it just looked really fun. In truth, our limited hands-on didn't show us too much in the way of handling that we haven't seen before. And with a new Need For Speed on the way, it will have to be a polished game to establish itself as a major player.