Unleashing High-Octane Excitement and Unforgettable Adventures
There is a certain type of racing game that I really enjoy. There is something interesting about a full simulation like Gran Turismo 7 (before they added microtransactions), but I gravitate towards more arcade-like experiences. Classics like Ridge Racer Type R, basically all Mario Kart and Sega Rally and more recent titles like Forza Horizon. Today I can add another title to that list with The Crew Motorfest. I played a good bit of the early game recently at a Ubisoft remote event, and what I saw was very promising.
Motorfest begins with character creation. While you’ll spend most of the game unable to see your character because you’re in a car, plane, or boat, it looks like bikes and ATVs may become available later on. You first have to choose a premade character as your base and then adjust from there. Most of the options are in face and hair, so the base will specify your gender/body type, though there aren’t any characters that refer to you in a specific language or name and you’re the silent protagonist. There’s a good range of options here, with plenty of faces and hairstyles, and a good amount of clothing, too. It’s not on the level of Black Desert Online or even Baldur’s Gate 3, but the amount here feels good for this type of game and helps your character feel unique.
Once your character is complete, you’ll be shown the first few playlists you can access in short pilot sequences, and then drop into the open world of Hawaii’s O’ahu to do as you please. Playlists are collections of themed races and challenges that you complete in order to progress. We’ve got Made In Japan, which puts you in Japanese-made cars to race and drift through the streets of neon city, Hawaii Scenic Tour, to get off the beaten path and learn more about Hawaian culture, and finally Vintage Garage has racing in car culture classics without GPS or Nitro. There were also three others shown just in this prologue showing F1 racing, off-road, and another with only Lamborghini cars. Later in the demo, I also piloted the Electric Odyssey, where you race an electric car, or EV, against combustion engine cars in a very F-Zero-like fashion. This is of course a work in progress, so what the final game gives you to get to at first may vary.
Before we dive into any one playlist, let’s talk about driving form. The cars here are a lot heavier than what you’re used to, and lean more towards simulation realism while still being fun and arcade. It took me a while to get used to it, but once you get a feel for the general frustrations of the game, you can adjust to each car’s specific quirks. I’ve been stuck on normal difficulty the whole time, but if you’re having trouble or are just getting in the way you can increase or decrease the difficulty of the AI runners. The game has some very difficult challenges as well. Even if I had unlimited session time, I don’t think I could have beaten any of the playlists except for the Hawaii Scenic Tour (which progresses no matter what you put in it). For example, you’ve always been bad at drifting outside of Mario Kart, and one of the Made in Japan challenges really puts your skills to the test in a tight time limit. You really have to deal with all the mechanics of the game to succeed.
The most prominent of these mechanisms is the nitro boost. To the right of the speedometer is the boost counter. When you have any amount of counters, you can press A to boost for a while, and the more counters you have, the longer it will last. I’ve used it mostly on straight roads, but presumably you can also use it to correct your momentum of course in certain situations. Different playlists have different ways of building the counter. Made in Japan uses the normal recharging method after a period of time while Electric Odyssey requires you to drive on specific pink sections of track. Of course, playlists like Vintage Garage or Race in F1 Cars completely disable boost, so you can’t rely on them to steer you forward in every situation.
Of all the playlists we tried, I enjoyed Made in Japan and Electric Odyssey the most. They had decent challenges and conditions and interesting stories. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite reach the level of the first Crew game, but that wouldn’t really fit the tone Motorfest wanted it to be. Of course I loved hearing about the history and legends of Hawaii on the Scenic Tour of Hawaii, but I found the actual races a bit bland in comparison. Vintage Garage also didn’t quite hit the house, as I’m not terribly into car culture, but nonetheless, it’s interesting to learn about each vehicle’s history and legacy.
The variety in the playlists is actually part of what makes Motorfest so friendly. If you’re not enjoying a particular playlist at the moment or are having trouble with a challenge, you can pick up where you left off on another playlist once you move on to the next goal. You can tour Hawaii however you like, with the ability to instantly switch between car, plane, and boat with the press of the right stick. It’s fun to fly high in an airplane, crash in your car of choice or gracefully fall into the sea with a boat. I haven’t seen any playlists that use anything but cars, so I’m hoping the final game will use those two types of vehicles.
I had a lot of fun with The Crew Motorfest. It’s basically a Forza Horizon clone but that’s by no means a bad thing. There’s just something incredible about open-world racing games that you can’t get anywhere else, and I imagine that feeling will only be enhanced by the licensed soundtrack. Get in, get in, and out for an adrenaline-filled tropical vacation when The Crew Motorfest launches on September 14th.
David is the type of person who has his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this guy who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him play all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all kinds, and write about it! here. on this site. When you’re not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.