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December 2023

The Crew Motorfest

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Ivory Tower
Release Date: Sept. 14, 2023

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PC Review - 'The Crew Motorfest'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on Sept. 29, 2023 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

The Crew Motorfest enters a new era in the franchise, allowing car lovers to fulfill their ultimate action driving bucket list through a series of tailor-made races, themed events and other unique challenges.

I don't know exactly how development got started for The Crew Motorfest, but I suspect it involved someone mentioning the Forza Horizon series a few dozen times. The Crew Motorfest wears its inspiration on its sleeve, from the concept of a car festival to the overall presentation and design. While the game has a few new things of its own under the hood, they are often flawed, and it is generally tough to shake the feeling that The Crew Motorfest is just a copy of Forza Horizon with the serial numbers filed off.

Crew Motorfest is set in Hawaii in the middle of a fictional motorsport festival. You compete in various series of racing events called "playlists," each with its own theme. For example, one of the first playlists is called "Made in Japan" and has you taking various iconic cars from Japanese manufacturers and letting them loose in events inspired by the car culture from that country. Completing a playlist unlocks a new car and earns credits to purchase one of the many vehicles in the game.

The most immediate issue with the events is that they sometimes forget that The Crew Motorfest is supposed to be a racing game and not simply a means of letting characters talk over whatever action is happening. During the "Made in Japan" playlist, you'll get about 15-30 seconds of silence between one of the street racer characters talking about the car you're driving, or you'll hear inane babble. I get that the game is angled toward car culture and the reverence of some legendary cars, but I don't need a character giving me a car's development background when I'm in the middle a very active race.

This is a problem that pervades other playlists and the game itself. Someone at Ubisoft had the genuinely brilliant idea of partnering with Donut Media, and in the themed playlist, James Pumphrey lends his brand of joyful nonsense. However, it gets old when the game lets him talk over and over, and this playlist also suffers from the inability to keep incessant babbling out of the way. You can't even drive down the road in free play between events without the car's AI system frequently talking, and it's often about some of the most random and useless things one could imagine.

This isn't the most egregious issue that I have with the playlists because the game has a voice slider in audio that goes all the way down to zero. The bigger problem is that in many playlists, you are forced to use a particular loaner car for every event, even if you have a car of your own that could be applicable. It makes purchasing or customizing your own vehicles feel nearly pointless when you can't use them through so much of the game's progression; instead, they are relegated to vehicles that you drive between events.

The level of performance tuning in the game isn't that deep. You unlock various upgrade parts for the cars across a few categories, but they are nebulous upgrade packages in which you are chasing a larger quality number. For example, if you receive "Tires" at 617 as a reward, you can use those tires on any of your cars, but other than improving your grip (in theory), that's about all there is to it. These parts can be used in just about any car you have (some cars cannot equip higher-end parts), so it results in a weird system where you equip arbitrary parts to make your car generally better.

You can change the look of your cars via a livery editor and by choosing from a selection of parts in various categories, such as bumpers, hoods, etc. Doing so costs a small sum of credits, but it does let you personalize the car to your own tastes. It varies from car to car, but many have a good selection of options in each category. The same issue as before applies, though; it's nice to make the car your own through modifications, but it's pointless when you drive them so infrequently.

The game's economy doesn't always allow you to squander hard-earned credits on such things anyway. Jump into a playlist featuring a bunch of American cars ripping it up in the dirt, and you'll find that while you can use your own car, it requires a particular and small set of them. Sure, you can spend credits to get a Camero SS and race it in three events, but after doing so, you'd need to play through those events another six or seven times to break even on the purchase. If you don't have the money to buy a playlist's car, then you'd better get to grinding a playlist you've already completed, as some playlists are only available for a limited time.

For a game that touts itself as a celebration of car culture, it doesn't do a fantastic job with how the cars handle. For all of the over-the-top nonsense that Forza Horizon offers, it pins down the gameplay with cars that handle somewhat realistically. The same cannot be said for The Crew Motorfest, and at no point did the handling of the vehicles ever "click" for me. Many vehicles have a lot of understeer, and braking does nothing to transfer the weight forward to improve the front-end grip. Sure, it's an arcade-style game, and I shouldn't anticipate a tire model with a bunch of points of contact, but I'd like the cars to at least feel like cars.

One area where the game differentiates itself from its competition is in the inclusion of vehicles like planes and boats in the roster. The problem is that they aren't implemented in a way that is particularly intuitive, such as how you can control the trim with the speedboats, but the game doesn't explain how it should be used for maximum performance. It doesn't change the attitude of the boat's model on the water, so it's hard to know if you're even pushing it the correct way in relation to the upcoming wave.

There's a grab bag of other annoyances with The Crew Motorfest. While driving to your next event, the yellow GPS line can sometimes be hijacked by a free-play event that you drive through. Rebind your controller keys, and you might find yourself restarting a race that you didn't even want to do in the first place because you happened to upshift. Play a drag racing event, and your starts will always be scored as bad, and good luck getting the game to explain why.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to games, you have to bring some of your own improvements to the table. The Crew Motorfest is clearly trying to be very similar to its competition, but it can't help but fall short. In the many areas where its features are almost carbon copies, they aren't implemented as well and force the player into playing the game in an odd way between bouts of grinding for credits. In the areas where it tries new things, it barely commits to them and leaves them feeling like afterthoughts. If Forza Horizon could also be played on Sony hardware, The Crew Motorfest would have no reason to exist.

Score: 6.5/10

Reviewed on: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, 32 GB RAM, NVidia RTX 4070 Ti, Xbox One Controller

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