| Reviewed on a PS5 and CLX Gaming PC |
The Crew: Motorfest, developed by Ivory Tower, takes a departure from its predecessor’s sprawling USA setting, opting for a more focused experience on the sun-soaked roads of O’ahu, Hawaii. This shift towards quality over quantity is evident, resulting in a game that bears a striking resemblance to the Forza Horizon series. While this may not sit well with purists longing for The Crew’s distinct identity, as a fan of Horizon 5, I find myself at home. Despite this identity crisis, Motorfest manages to carve out its niche with exceptional handling, impressive graphics, an extensive roster of licensed vehicles, and a festival theme that adds a lively touch. However, the game’s reliance on microtransactions raises some concerns about its overall balance.
A Paradigm Shift
The transition from traversing the entire United States to O’ahu, Hawaii marks a deliberate shift in approach by Ivory Tower. This more compact setting allows for an often times detailed and visually stunning environment, especially at sunset. When compared to the previous Crew games where procedurally generated landscapes sprawled across the United States it is much smaller; the island can be traversed in about an hour, but the gains in visual fidelity and immersive details outweigh the sacrifice of sheer size — it’s an entirely focused game compact with mostly meaningful content.
While occasional texture and foliage pop-ins are noticeable on the PS5, they are understandable given the game’s high resolution and frame rate — I didn’t have this issue while playing on my CLX Gaming PC however, but that’s because….well, PC. The festival theme breathes life into Motorfest — creating an atmosphere that pulses with energy. It’s regrettable that Ivory Tower chose not to stick to trying out a more unique theme, but as a fan of Horizon 5, this deviation doesn’t detract significantly from the overall experience. However, a major gripe lies in the gated fast travel system, requiring completion of 10 Playlists. This decision feels unnecessarily restrictive and can lead to frustration, especially for players eager to explore the entirety of O’ahu without the lengthy drives.
Motorfest’s handling demonstrates a commendable leap forward for the series. The improvements over previous iterations are hard to ignore. Ivory Tower’s meticulous fine-tuning results in a more responsive, nuanced driving experience for an arcade driving sim. The vehicles convey a palpable sense of weight and traction, particularly evident in challenging maneuvers. It’s a noticeable step up, subtly demanding players’ attention and rewarding them with a newfound level of control.
Playlists and Currency Quandaries
Motorfest introduces themed Playlists, each delving into specific aspects of auto culture, car types, or driving styles. This segmentation allows for a more tailored experience, catering to diverse player preferences. Nevertheless, there’s a cynical undertone surrounding the requirements for certain Playlists. Some can be completed without owning specific vehicles, while others demand arbitrary and expensive in-game purchases. This imbalance raises questions about the game’s progression system and its favoring of monetary investments.
The inclusion of microtransactions is unavoidable in modern gaming, but Motorfest occasionally leans heavily on this revenue stream. It’s disheartening to find that virtual currency is ever-present, potentially tempting players to take the shortcut to vehicle ownership. The exaggerated claim of over 600 cars is slightly misleading, as it includes multiple iterations of the same vehicle with superficial alterations.
A Fleet of Details
Despite the currency concerns, the vehicles themselves are a highlight in Motorfest. Ivory Tower has poured meticulous attention into the design and sound, resulting in a collection that exudes authenticity. However, the inexplicable blurriness of mirrors mars an otherwise highly detailed presentation. The cars come to life with distinctive engine notes and handle with a precision that surpasses its predecessors, making the act of driving a genuine pleasure.
The Crew’s loot-based upgrade system remains a divisive aspect, and my sentiments towards it remain unchanged — I love loot-based elements in games, but rarely works on a game that’s focused on driving where the gameplay loop is race, earn cash, buy parts. The pursuit of legendary gold parts feels like a tiresome chore, and the option to purchase them with real-world currency doesn’t alleviate the grind; it just feels like the NBA 2K of racing games more often that it is just a racing game. This particular system may deter players seeking a more streamlined and rewarding progression.
REVIEW SCORE: 7.5/10
The Crew: Motorfest strikes a balance, trading the huge map for a prettier, detailed world. It feels like a lively festival, akin to Forza Horizon. But it leans too heavily on microtransactions and odd Playlist rules. Still, driving feels great and the cars are detailed. Motorfest positions itself well, and I hope they remove or at least reduce the monetization so it can flourish.