Among all the sarc and snark that E3 inspires, it's easy to forget the spark of excitement that causes us all to give a damn in the first place. A few games overcome that for me, and I'm as surprised as anyone to discover that The Crew is one of them. It's an Ubisoft racing game developed by a team made up of former Test Drive Unlimited devs, and it aims to provide a contiguous, scaled-down version of the United States for players to drive across. For that ambition alone, I'm looking forward to it, and there's an impressive new timelapse video of the game's world below.
If you want to watch the introduction and post-trailer chat with a developer from the Ubisoft conference, those six-minutes are over here. Be warned: it's buzzword-heavy. I have constructed brand-focusing word charts before, but I'm surprised Ubisoft's script writers didn't reach further than just reading theirs out loud. "True, expansive, open-world, driving, mayhem." Is that even a sentence?
Also: LOOK AT IT. My cynicism ends at the point where I remember that I once couldn't comprehend how Grand Theft Auto 1 could fit an entire city into a game.
The concept behind The Crew should be familiar to anyone who played Codemaster's Fuel, a flawed racing game made worthwhile by its world. It was created using topographical data of the western United States and its level designers were geographical mash-up artists, re-mixing and re-organising terrain into a greatest hits compilation of America's most famous and impressive vistas. America the Theme Park! A Main Street, USA for the natural environment. The boring between removed to create a Las Vegas casino’s version of the great American landscapes, a miniaturised Grand Canyon thrust up against snowy Mount Rainier sat flush against Crater Lake. It was the America of the collective consciousness, of disaster movies, all scale and potential and awe.
I quite liked it.
The Crew aims to do the same, only with more detail, more landmarks, and a multiplayer infrastructure that should hopefully provide you with something to do over with such a large expanse. That's where Fuel fell down.
You can sign up to The Crew beta now. It doesn't begin until July 23rd, which should give you almost enough time to remember your uPlay account password.