What makes a good and memorable racing game? Over the last thirty years, racing games have held a special place in gamers’ hearts. During that time, games like Mario Kart, Crazy Taxi, Rush, Need for Speed, Gran Turismo, Forza, Blur, Burnout, and WRC have had racers coming back for more. But what makes these games so memorable and keeps players wanting more? Is it the story, the line-up of cars, the race types, or even the competitive race playlists in the game? With all of these factors in mind, we look at Ubisoft’s most recent racer, The Crew Motorfest, and see if it has what it takes to go down in legends.
The Crew Motorfest
Developer: Ubisoft Ivory Tower
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S (Reviewed)
Release Date: September 14th, 2023
Players: Single-player and Multi-player
Before we dive into our The Crew Motorfest review, I will disclose that I have not been the biggest fan of The Crew series; in fact, it has been the least-played racing genre of all time that I own. In the past, I felt that the original The Crew was a Forza Horizon or Need for Speed wannabee.
The Crew 2, felt like Ivory Tower was trying to distinguish itself from those franchises, but played it safe with the changes; the changes they made were not as impactful. During Summer Game Fest 2023, we had the opportunity to meet with Ubisoft and preview The Crew Motorfest. The way the team presented the game at the Ubisoft Forward made The Crew Motorfest stand out over the series of previous iterations.
The Crew Motorfest Gameplay
When you first boot up The Crew Motorsports, players are welcomed to the festival by the Motorfest‘s host; this host welcomes you to Hawaii and gives players a look at what they can expect in The Crew Motorfest.
Once the preview is over, players get to design their character; players can choose from a stock character or design their character to meet their needs. Once in the Motorfest, the player must choose which car they want to start off with and what playlist they want to take on.
Once a playlist is chosen, the player will then take their selected car to the playlist’s starting point. In order to start some playlists, the player will need a specific vehicle that they can buy in the shop.
Unlike some other racing games, The Crew Motorfest gives players a healthy amount of money after each race in a playlist; because of how much money the game gives players, rarely do you have to worry about buying a specific vehicle that you need for each list.
Depending on which playlist you choose in the game, you can unlock a boat or plane early on. Unlocking the plane early on is rather helpful since the map is massive and fast travel is not unlocked until players complete 10 playlists.
Players can switch seamlessly between car, plane, or boat by pushing in the right stick; this caused some comical moments by us flying in a plane to the area where we need to be and then switching to the car and falling out of the sky like we are in the Fast and Furious franchise.
The game offers players a wide variety of event types to participate in. Yes, there are circuits, sprints, speed traps, and other types of races but there are also some more scenic drives that allow the player to take in the scenery of the island. These scenic races help the player unlock the boat and plane early on. Additionally, no race feels identical to another race with a variety of terrain and environments.
Before racing, the player gets to choose between 3 difficulties (Amateur, Intermediate, or Expert). If you are winning races consecutively or easily, the game will ask you if you want to increase the difficulty; if you are losing a lot, the game will ask if you want to lower it.
Players can tell the game to stop asking them if they want to change the difficulty; however, in most races, once the player gets ahead, they will keep the lead as long as they aren’t incompetent no matter what difficulty they are on. The rewind feature can easily manipulate whether or not you win a race by undoing a pivotal moment.
In addition to a variety of playlists, The Crew Motorfest features event playlists. These event playlists are typically mapped out for players to know what is coming within that month. Some playlists are available for days while others are for weeks.
In the playlist menu, there are brand-themed playlists that will have players using a specific brand’s cars only. For example in the American Muscle playlist, players will only use Ford Mustangs to race against Camaros, Challengers, and Chargers.
The game offers 607 vehicles for players to choose from between planes, bikes, boats, and cars. These vehicles range from vintage collector’s items to modern luxury vehicles. In fact, there is almost a vehicle for everyone. Like other modern racers, Ivory Tower has added a sonar system within the game to help players find mystery loot chests throughout the map.
Unlike Assassin’s Creed Mirage, The Crew Motorfest does a great job with its visual display. Whether traveling through the island or in a race, the vehicles’ reactions to collisions, water chopping, and even weather are realistic given the illusion that you are actually in the vehicle.
Players can choose between Performance or resolution; even on performance, we can see the beauty and dedication that the developers put into the game. Players can choose between standard visuals or High Dynamic Range.
The game features a wide variety of songs and special effects. Depending on whether or not the player has stream mode on, the game will play either DMCA-free songs or allow players to hear a different soundtrack.
These two different soundtracks give almost a completely different feeling to each race. Both soundtracks are fun to listen to but having songs from renowned artists vs compositions feels more realistic. Motorfest does a great job by giving players a decent variety of genres for the player to listen to.
Outside of the game’s excellent soundtrack, the game offers a wide variety of audio customization options. Players can change the dynamic range, ambiance, voice loudness, car sound effects, and even mute the narrator.
Thankfully, none of the characters in the game are annoying to the point where you feel like you need to mute them. Yes, the game’s AI navigator and assistant can be annoying at times, but it’s not anything that is overloading.
The Crew Motorfest features a limited amount of accessibility options. Players can modify the size and background of the subtitles, disable the camera shake, change the racing line opacity, or modify the graphics to help with color blindness.
Players can adjust the sound settings to have certain sounds stand out over others. Additionally, players can change the audio and text languages in the game; however, there are only three audio languages while there are thirteen text languages. The player can also modify the controller’s layout to meet their racing needs. If your controller dies while you are driving, the game will continue to fly you in a straight line.
Going into The Crew Motorfest I had low expectations but high hopes. As someone who likes to occasionally play racing games, I like the change of pace that Motorfest offers by having players use a wide variety of vehicles rather than just one.
The game lacking an overall story did feel like a bit of a miss but each playlist having its own feel and narrator made it feel like it had something to offer outside of a racing sim. The game’s controls are fairly easy to utilize due to the layout being the traditional racing layout. The wide variety of vehicles and an amazing soundtrack really gave it an edge over other racers currently available.
If I were to suggest a racing game strictly only for racing or a beautiful environment, I would probably go with The Crew Motorfest over Need for Speed. The lack of a story does hurt the game a bit but the racing, level design, and variety that the game has to offer, outweigh any of the bad.
The Crew Motorfest was reviewed on an Xbox Series X using a copy provided by Ubisoft. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. The Crew Motorfest was released on September 15th, 2023 on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S