Right off the bat there is really no hiding the influences behind Ubisoft’s third Crew game. This is as much a homage to Forza Horizon as it is a ‘The Crew’ game.
For this driving, boating and flying experience we head to Hawaii. Sun drenched beaches, palm trees and everything else you’d expect from the new location are present, but so is an ever present feeling that the developers are making something that feels like it’s trying to be half of one thing and half of another. I’m not complaining, the Forza Horizon games have been a huge plus in terms of bringing something new and exciting to motorsport games and Motorfest does get a lot right when it flat out copies the ideas from Playground Games series, most notably the way it introduces the game, the festival ambiance and the open world feel of the game, though the last was arguably present in the previous Crew games but felt a little bare bones.
This is, however, a Crew game too and with that we get not only cars but speedboats and planes too. The aircraft really change things up here and while it doesn’t feel quite as original or as much off a buzz as when I first moved between car to plane in the original The Crew, there’s no denying that the ability to see this island by air really helps set this apart from being just a homage.
The planes are also useful for one of Motorfest’s less enjoyable features as unlocking content and areas, including fast travel to the races, takes ages. It’s something you’ll notice if you’r the sort of person who loves roaming around these open world games without trying to complete all the races and events first and it can be a pain to drive a huge distance just to get to a new race location but at least you can seamlessly change to flying over the map which does help here. Nevertheless, it feels like a little misstep to provide such small breadcrumbs over your first few hours in the game, especially when it does so much else right.
The slow opening of areas is offset by just how well the game plays and looks, steady 60fps action alongside some lovely visuals in a beautiful environment, dotted around with jumps, off-road areas and even loop-the-loops (something you’ll come across right at the start) do help keep you hooked until the game feeds you more content and a better way to get around the map. It’s also refreshing to have cars that all feel at least slightly different from each other in terms of handling, a big improvement over The Crew 2 and it’s rather lightweight feeling vehicles.
The Crew: Motorfest is by far the best game in the series, thanks to both its inspiration and the improvements in handling, variety of races and visuals. It’s not perfect but for racing fans it’s well worth the plane ticket.