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Opinions 20 July 2023, 16:21

author: Darius Matusiak

I've Finally Tested The Crew Motorfest Myself - Forza No Longer Needed

A short test drive in The Crew Motorfest convinced me that Ubisoft is chasing after Xbox' flahship car game with the gas pedal squeezed hard into the floor, so people bored with the Mexican vistas in Forza 5 can start getting excited.

Ubisoft may not be too famous for its in-house car games, but as a publisher it has always tried to have something from the genre in its portfolio. It doesn't matter if we reach back to the old days when we played the decent Driver: San Francisco, or to the slightly more recent era, when The Crew with its equally thrilling storyline appeared. Or even more contemporary times, with offerings such as the crazy Trackmania or the slightly more realistic second part of The Crew.

All of these titles somehow managed to stand out from the crowd. Driver had a huge city and very cinematic pursuits, The Crew had the whole United States to cruise around with your favorite music in the background, and its sequel added motorcycles, airplanes and fast boats to this huge map! The upcoming third part of The Crew Motorfest has lost some of its uniqueness and identity, because after a brief encounter with the test version, I mainly saw it as a clone of Forza Horizon. It's still hard for me to say whether it's better or worse, but surely I'm not able to escape from constant comparisons.

Oh s**t, here we go again... Pearl Harbor

Essentially, the only thing that remains The Crew 2 at Motorfest are planes and boats. Despite cleverly avoiding these machines in promotional materials, there’s still the option to switch to a plane or speedboat during the ride, and there are still races to complete while controlling these vehicles. But from what I managed to see, such competitions will probably be a marginal part of the game. We will use these vehicles much more often just to traverse the open world and reach individual races.

On the one hand, I'm not disappointed, because the aircraft physics were very, very bad and underdeveloped. On the other hand, zooming around in a superfast boat on water worked much better, still provided a lot of fun and seems to distinguish the game – they don't serve that in Horizon.

Associations with Forza are evoked not only by the atmosphere related to a grand moto festival and constant party among the slightly crude, poorly-animated avatars of our drivers. Motorfest abandoned the entire map of the USA in favor of a single state – Hawaii – just like the first Test Drive Unlimited. And there's no denying that it's really nice and diverse an environment. There are beaches, jungle, forests, a volcano, cities – the graphics look excellent and exploring the island is a pleasure, but...

... the impressions are almost the same as touring Mexico in Forza Horizon 5. We're driving around and every few minutes the biomes change just so we don't get bored of the views. There are even one-to-one similarities, because in both games we have a volcano, a coast, cities, and green forests. But the option of a long journey from New York through the entire States to Seattle or San Francisco disappeared and even the most beautiful spots of Hawaii, including ships anchored in Pearl Harbour, do not compensate for this. The huge map may not work so well in Assassin’s anymore, but it fit a car game perfectly – it's a shame that there's no longer this feeling of a grand tour through the entire country.

A celebration of motorsport, or flea market?

In The Crew Motorfest, I also noticed attempts to imitate the Gran Turismo series, which turned out somewhat better, although not in every aspect. We are taking part in a great automotive fest – celebrating legendary brands, historical periods of motorsports and the general development of the car industry. During the campaign we experience various events, always with a main theme as background. In the tested version, I was able to check out a few themes: electric cars, JDM, legendary oldtimers, and Porsche 911.

Every event like that is preceded by an impressive cinematic. These were done in a really great style, reminiscent of video sequences from Gran Turismo. We are watching real shots, often historical, properly edited, with matching color palette and music. You can immediately get into the right vibe and feel like a real motorhead! The accompanying races are also related to the theme. In the case of electric cars, abstract neon signs appear on the route that bring to mind the flow of electric current, while Japanese cars have Oriental embellishments.

Everything generally fits together, until we get to the Porsche 911 races, when the tracks start to be adorned with giant balloons in the shape of nine elevens. That's exactly where the cheapness of the vibe hit me, as well as Ubisoft's propensity for exaggeration and combining completely opposite atmospheres. I hope that this is just an isolated case, and the authors have had better ideas for the rest of the events. Either way, iconic Porsche 911 in form of a giant balloon didn’t make me happy.

Horizon fans will be pleased

Perhaps I'm focusing on minor details for a car game, but that's because – as I mentioned – I don't want to try assessing the driving model for various technical reasons yet. I need to say I wasn't playing on my own computer, but through the cloud. Animation drops to unplayable levels did occur, constant "poor connection" messages and shaky resolution meant that precise control during overtaking or entering corners was something you could almost forget. The game seems a bit more arcadish than Forza Horizon, also less predictable, but for now – it's mostly a guess. A proper evaluation will be made after testing the release version.

In any case, it's mandatory in this game to earn credits and upgrade your cars with tuned parts, in a formula similar to that in other games of this genre. However, it's hard to say anything about the functioning of the economy, progression or the level of challenge. In the tested version I immediately had access to several million credits to spend on cars and improvements.

With great certainty I can say that The Crew Motorfest will appeal Forza Horizon fans – especially those who are tired of the old map and are waiting for new routes and locations. Everything will seem very familiar to them, and additions in the form of motorcycles and fast motorboats may be an interesting element of freshness. However, if someone’s looking for a new quality in car games, a revolution or a return to the gameplay from Test Drive Unlimited, a monumental racing game by the creators of The Crew, they probably won't find it here. Motorfest is hitching a ride on the success route of Forza Horizon, wanting a piece of that pie pretty badly. And it will probably get it.

Darius Matusiak

Darius Matusiak

Graduate of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Journalism. He started writing about games in 2013 on his blog on gameplay.pl, from where he quickly moved to the Reviews and Editorials department of Gamepressure. Sometimes he also writes about movies and technology. A gamer since the heyday of Amiga. Always a fan of races, realistic simulators and military shooters, as well as games with an engaging plot or exceptional artistic style. In his free time, he teaches how to fly in modern combat fighter simulators on his own page called Szkola Latania. A huge fan of arranging his workstation in the "minimal desk setup" style, hardware novelties and cats.


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