Start your engines racing fans, it’s time for a big motorised party as the latest iteration of Ubisoft’s racing franchise The Crew drifts onto our screens with The Crew Motorfest.
Though we’re admittedly far from racing experts, we’ve taken Motorfest for a quick spin to see if it can hold its own in the Forza Horizon-dominated party racing scene in our mini review series, Taken for a Quickie.
Let’s powerslide into it…
Do you feel the party atmosphere?
om the starting line you’re invited to create a character, starting with one of a series of archetypes in some sort of hipster convention line-up, and then your new character is immediately thrown into the Motorfest itself.
You’re introduced to playlists – a curated series of races with a loose theme connecting them together – and given the map to explore, but if you choose a waypoint too soon it will get wiped and you’ll be steered towards the objective instead. Bit of a buzzkill.
Doing the directing is your AI assistant Cara (seriously). Their upbeat British voiceover is a little on the eager side for our taste, and goes a long way to setting the tone of the initial part of the game.
Generally, it comes across like a new kid at school who really, really wants to make friends, rather than a chilled out, free-roaming party experience where you can do things at your own pace.
I see it’s a “Motorfest” not a “Carfest”?
Well spotted! There are other types of vehicle in this game, specifically boats, planes and motorbikes – and there's even a quad bike.
While we didn’t explore them much in our limited time, there’s the option to mix up your play experience by hot-swapping to a different vehicle type every now and then – but they aren’t available straight away.
Rest assured, it’s still a car-focused game at heart, but a lot of time and effort has been put into having these other vehicles be more than just a gimmick, but legitimate additional strings to Motorfest’s bow.
What about the “crew” part?
Like previous entries, there is a big focus on multiplayer and how it can enhance the experience. Since the game is always online, unlike some other titles, there’s no option but to see other drivers zipping around as you explore.
When you start, you’re on foot and can wander around a bit before getting in your car, to give you the opportunity to crew up with other players. The reality though is that most already seem buddied up, and online interactivity in games like this is hit and miss across the board, so you certainly can’t rely on it – unless you already have a premade crew of your own.
Once you’re joined up, if you get invited to an event you don’t have the vehicle for, you’ll be loaned one, just like in the singleplayer playlists.
Is there anything you don’t like?
While destruction in racing games isn’t everything. Interacting with other roadsters in general Motorfest feels a little…off.
While you won’t smash into fellow players in freedrive – they become ghost cars whenever you get close – you certainly can crash into AI traffic.
While it’s certainly sparse, especially for a vibrant island of over a million inhabitants, the times when you do come across other cars, you can be stopped dead if you aren’t careful.
There’s no shunting other cars out the way either, you’ll think you’ve smashed into a rock.
Since there are so few NPC vehicles trundling about on the roads, and you don’t challenge them to races like you might in say, Burnout Paradise, it almost feels like an afterthought left in from early in development to try to bring some life to the island outside events, which can feel a little lifeless for such a colourful holiday destination.
The end result is an experience which is a little isolating when you're playing in singleplayer, rather than getting you excited to join crews, or build one of your own, to take the fun up to 11.
So, what’s the verdict?
There are a lot of tried-and-tested concepts executed well here, though those looking for more than mere dashes of creativity and the odd sprinkle of genius might be driving home with a flat tyre.
The look and feel is on point, if a little over-the-top to really feel like its substance could ever live up to its energetic style, and the experience of driving is rewarding.
The trio of difficulty options presented at the outset, which will be brought up again if you find yourself sailing through events a little too easily, are nice and straightforward and the act of actually driving isn’t too complicated.
Being an ongoing live experience though means timed playlists and microtransactions are here from the outset, which won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
The experience as a whole is a good bit of fun though, a commendable first effort following a sharp left turn for a series which began with the original protagonist getting let out of prison.
The Crew Motorfest is a solid experience which should be more than enough to get your engine revving, but, depending on how much you throw yourself into it, your mileage may vary.