Recently i made a little trip for TDUDriveTime to Lyon, to enjoy some great food, meet some interesting people and to play a game. It is called...
As one of the lucky 7 that were invited, i had the privilege to be one of the first gamers in the World to play this great game, that started 7 years ago as a brainchild from a few French Rockstars of the gaming industry, who left Eden Games after the release of TDU1 and started their own Studio:
The Studio has grown over the years to about 90 people, all Top Gun programmers, very dedicated and talented professionals, centered around the 4 founders, who form the beating hart of this great Team.
Ivory Towers is led by Stéphane Beley, who is also the spiritual father of TDU1, as well as The Crew. Great guy, very accessible, friendly and patiently answering all our questions. Also a very good team leader with the Studio setup in dedicated sections with mission specialists. Chapeau.
The project has grown so big, that 6 additional Studios are working together to get The Crew finished, including UbiSoft Reflections (Driver SF). The whole project is backed by UbiSoft, who are really supportive to the project and will also publish the game.
We were treated with an entire tour around the Studio, meeting devs, getting explanations on what they were working on, in-depth demonstrations of the landscaping, car modeling and destruction departments and all i can say is that most of the stuff you see in the trailers is not just promotional eye candy but actually in the game.
We literally had a taste of the Hâute Cuisine of the French Gaming Industry.
Hands On As this is not Wikipedia but a game site, it is time to play. Well, after over 10 hours of hardcore gameplay of one of the most anticipated titles of 2014, i can tell you that The Crew is the next evolution of TDU.
This is an epic game in the making. And i don't say this just because our crew was treated very nice by the Devs, but because it is actually better in every aspect of the game you can imagine. It is that good. We all agreed that it did not only meet our expectations, but exceeded it. Everybody who knows me a little bit and has read some of my comments before, knows i really like to raise the bar and can be very critical if needed, but this team of perfectionists, connoisseurs and petrol-heads have produced something really special. They have set new standards again with this project. My first impression is a positive one.
Off course they need to polish the game some more, fix some bugs and interface issues.
They are aware of that and I had a few bugs popup a couple of times that were immediately fixed with workarounds by two devs, including the Studio Director himself, coding at warp speed.
The Driving Most important aspect of a driving game is how the cars handle, the physics, force feedback, the interaction with the gaming environment and the overall feel and flow of the game.
The first day i only played with controller, tried as many rides as i could and decided only to do the introduction of the story (yes, it has one) and do as much driving as possible. The game-flow is very nice as you go fluently from free-ride into a mission or challenge, seamless. No lobby or loading times. A unique feature of The Crew. Later I took a flight to Las Vegas with a friend from Tduck to drive flatout all the way back to Detroit and Chicago. Epic fun.
The handling and gameplay with a controller is very good. Cars steer predictable and are actually reacting like real life cars. I started in default FA setting but switched quickly to sport mode as that brings more life to the driving. In full assist everybody can drive a car in The Crew. No matter how old or good you are. It is a game that everybody from all ages can enjoy and play together.
On hardcore the cars are a handful and a real challenge to master, especially if you drive a muscle car in the snow
The good controller players will love the hardcore mode in this game, as it is really good and usable. Sport mode is an all-round fun mode that allows you to drift a little and use the movements of the car to place it wherever you want and probably the most relaxed setting to play forever.
The Wall of Wheels[/color]
Everybody who is interested how the wheel support is, will be pleasantly surprised by The Crew.
To begin with there are dedicated programmers working on both physics and force feedback and they are very humble, but also represent one of the top teams in creating a really good setup for wheel fanatics. They were also responsible for the TDU1 setup. Same team, next level.
To show their dedication there is literally a wall of wheels stacked up with every possible modern wheel available on the market. All major brands from Logitech to Fanatec and Thrustmaster were there, including high end shifters and pedal sets. Track Ir is also supported, so will be shifting lights.
They had a Play Seat setup with a Thrustmaster T500 ready for us to rumble.
Time for some serious wheel action as i grab the seat next morning. This time, the devs have unlocked the whole map and a cool bunch of cars, including some super cars. I decide to use just 2 cars and really learn to master them first to be able to push them fully to and over the limit. To feel what the physics in this game are capable of. I really enjoyed myself as i drove for about 2 hours with a Ruf and a Lamborghini. While the Lambo was relatively easy to learn and master, the RUF was a serious handful to drive. I loved it. Even if the physics were insane with wheel-spin in almost every gear (fixed already) and the default wheel setup is in Hardcore mode (you don't want anything else), i had a lot of control over the car, felt the suspension do the work. I felt the car getting light over hills, heavy under braking, used the movements of the car to place it wherever i wanted (and not wanted) and they could really be driven almost sim like. Almost because they left out the bad part of sims. This game is focused on fun so you can get away with driving through some objects without destroying your car straightaway. Same for jumps. But when you really make a mess of things you will total the car.
Because of the realism of the rides, the immersion of actually driving a car on some of the greatest roads of the USA is so strong, that it can completely absorb you. Wheel drivers will have a lot of fun with this game.
You can throw a car around corners, do massive powerslides and controlled drifts, but also drive “gently” through the neighborhood of Miami, while doing 100MPH !. Dodging people who make heroic moves to avoid getting hit, evading traffic and all i can say is that this handling has put a massive smile on my face that is probably still there and wont come off the next couple of days.
An MMO Driving game with Fun-Sim like handling, what else do you want?
They made THE game. The Crew is that driving game you really want.
It is an open driving world full of life and entertainment with great driving dynamics to match the high standard of the rest of the game.
The Cars All cars have a unique character and handling and can be tuned with parts you win and find by doing all kinds off stuff along the way. The amount of possible upgrades is insane. To start with, you have full stock, street, dirt, raid, performance and circuit tuning setups. And within those setups you have a ton of additional options to improve and customize your rides. Just collecting all parts will take you days, weeks and probably even months.
The car list will be quality over quantity. You have to imagine that some cars can be tuned in every setup option. This means 6 different basic layouts for those cars, including all parts and tuning options, damage and dirt models. Each model with dedicated physics and improvement modifications. To model each car with full factory support and approval takes about 6 months average to complete.
Each car is modeled like building a complete car, with working suspension, brakes and drive-train and working engine parts. The care and attention to detail is beyond belief.
The list will be a very good and varied selection of some of the most anticipated cars from all around the Globe.
They actually had some kind of Cool Wall that Top Gear used to have. But as they are still in the middle of the licensing process, i can't go into details. Just check the Crew site for updates on the cars, or here on TDUDrivetime.
The Map The map is huge. To underline this, Creative Director Julian showed us the map with other open world games projected on it, including Skyrim, TDU and GTA V and they were all dwarfed by The Crew.
The whole USA, scaled, optimized and never repetitive. Game was running smoothly with great viewing distances and recognizable landmarks all over the place. There is so much to discover that i won't go into details in this review. You simply have to do that yourself.
There are fully modeled tracks, i drove on Laguna Seca and saw others at Sebring and Indianapolis and there are probably a lot more. Most of the major cities are there. So is Route 66.
Even with 10 hours of playtime, i have only seen a fraction of the map. The diversity of the landscape is simply astonishing. With great visuals in lots of places.
They actually have sent different dev teams to the US to do some research in all parts of the country, shooting pictures and filming as many famous landmarks and buildings as they could. Must have been really hard work
If i have to describe the game in one word, it is freedom. It is more unlimited than Test Drive ever was and truly pushes the envelope for all other open world racers to come.
You can only imagine what they will create as additional content in the future. It will be more than just a few cars. Mark my words.
Thanks Many thanks to Stéphane, Julian, Soufyane, the camera crew and all the cool people at Ivory Towers and Anne from UbiSoft for making this Event possible. You're a great Crew
I also like to thank the other privileged members of our Crew. All hardcore gamers from around the globe, knowing their stuff. We had a lot of fun in Lyon, enjoying the good life and playing one of the most anticipated titles of the year for the first time.
Last but not least, I like to thank Bezrider for letting me go to Ivory Tower
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