Hawaii Looks Great At 200MPH
HIGH Drastically improved driving system. A ridiculous amount of new content.
LOW Driver customization is limited.
WTF My toxic trait is thinking I can be a good Formula 1 driver.
The Crew is an odd player in the arcade racing genre. Ubisoft introduced the IP in 2014, with its main selling point being a continuous open world. Set in a scaled-down recreation of the continental United States, cars would be able to drive from coast to coast in about 45 minutes. 2018’s The Crew 2 introduced planes and boats, but in both iterations the series struggled with the massive map — the areas felt empty, and many events lacked variety.
Fast forward to five years later and a new console generation, The Crew 2 has received plenty of expected updates but the team at Ubisoft’s Ivory Tower clearly wants to shake things up. Thankfully, The Crew Motorfest is an excellent improvement in every regard.
Taking place in a scaled-down version of the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu, Motorfest is an open-world racer centering around the titular festival. Players create a driver and are automatically introduced to the new Playlist feature. These playlists act as a main campaign of sorts, offering a series of events that fall into specific themes (such as off-road racing or drifting), using specific cars, and being hosted by experts in different disciplines. The goal is to complete each set of races in a playlist, with the reward at the end of them being an exclusive vehicle.
The switch to a smaller open-world is a good one, resulting in environments that are more dense with content and more detailed, visually. The approximation of Hawaii is breathtaking, with plenty of variety in terrain ranging from sunny beaches to trails around volcanoes. All of this is wrapped in gorgeous vistas and top-tier presentation — everything from the way the interior camera mode looks, to the way each car sounds distinct is impressive.
Early on, players have a choice between three playlists — Made in Japan, Hawaii Scenic Tour and American Muscle. I started with American Muscle, which took me on a series of races involving different types of Ford Mustangs. The events were hosted by a fictional musician who loved American muscle cars, and his voiceover throughout the races sold that passion. I drove different kinds of Mustangs, ranging from modern models equipped with off-road tires to a 1969 Mustang Boss that made me feel like Steve McQueen in Bullitt. My prize at the end of the playlist was a 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby, an absolute behemoth of a ride.
I love this playlist feature, thanks to the sheer variety introduced throughout my playtime. A little over thirty hours in, and I still have so many playlists to complete, but the ones I’ve already done have been exceptional, from the Off-Roading Addict (rally cars, ATVs and other off-road vehicles) to the Motorsports playlist offering closed-circuit races in a professional setting, such as a fictionalized version of Formula One. Here, players must contend with things like tire damage and rain affecting the way cars move on the track.
Each playlist not only made me comfortable with driving different types of cars, but they also included interesting facts about specific manufacturers. There’s a real reverence to cars and car culture here, something I appreciate deeply as a fan of all kinds of cars, not just racing games.
Aside from playlists, there’s also a variety of challenges to complete, like speed traps that challenge players to run through a gate as fast as possible or photo ops that encourage exploration.
Completing any race or activity nets XP, money and upgrade parts. Reaching certain XP thresholds net rewards like customization upgrades for their drivers (which are fairly limited) and new cars. Returning Crew 2 players can also import their garage, a feature every racing sequel should include from here on out.
As if these options weren’t enough, there are plenty of online modes that I enjoyed. Every half hour in real time, a new online event with new conditions became available. These include things like a 28-player cross-country dash that has players switching between three different vehicle types and a demolition derby-type event that acts as a battle royale. Here, players control destructible cars and are thrown into a combat zone, trying to be the last team standing.
I’m actually astounded at how feature-complete and jam-packed Motorfest is at launch, and I’m curious to see what it’ll look like a few months from now. Maybe we’ll see stock car racing a la Nascar in the future? Or perhaps more rally-dedicated modes to really take advantage of the wide-open terrain? Maybe an endurance race modeled after the 24 Hours of Le Mans? As it is now, however, I am not starved for anything to do, as I still have plenty to keep me busy.
This variety is complimented by pitch-perfect gameplay, especially in how cars handle. I played a bit of The Crew 2 a few months ago but dropped it quick after I was dissatisfied with the way cars felt. There was a serious lack of weight and impact, and the nitrous boost felt weak. Motorfest revamps all of this completely, with every car handling like a dream.
Vehicles have notable weight to them, while each one feels distinct — the Ford Bronco feels like the massive SUV that it is, while the Honda Civic glides through the streets. That feeling also extends to how every car interacts with the open world, as different vehicle types obviously work better in different conditions. For example, the Bronco was in the rally raid classification and was useful for maneuvering across mountains while the Honda NSX would wildly spin out of control if I ended up off-road.
This is also reflected in the adaptive triggers of the PS5’s DualSense control scheme including haptic feedback. Each terrain type feels different, and the triggers lock up and add pressure to braking and accelerating. It’s still easy to drift on a dime like any arcade racer, but there’s a balance here thanks to the realistic feel of the cars.
The Crew Motorfest is exceptional. To simply say that it improves upon its predecessor is a gross understatement, as it took a flawed foundation and turned it into the smoothest of rides. The presentation, the improved handling and the excellent playlist feature all come together to make it a top-tier racer. With this new entry, Ubisoft not only sets a new standard for their own open-worlders, but they’ve crafted an experience that can stand toe-to-toe with the finest racers on the market. Like a souped up 2021 Toyota GR Supra blasting through the finish line on a crowded street, this is truly a sight to behold.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Disclosures: This game is published and developed by Ubisoft. It is available on PS4/5, XBO/X/S and PC. This copy was obtained via publisher and was reviewed on PS5. Approximately 30 hours were spent in single-player and the game was not completed (still playing). 5 hours were spent playing multiplayer.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T for Lyrics and Mild Violence. A lot of the game is racing, with most of the objectionable content being relegated to song lyrics, though most of the worst words are censored already. Parents should know that most of the violence involves cars being crashed but nothing excessive. This game is perfectly fine for most children.
Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are present in the options menu.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are subtitles and visual cues throughout the game, like icons on screen alerting players of different things around the area. These can all be adjusted. There are no audio cues that are needed for successful gameplay. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The controls can be remapped and there are diagrams and different presets.