Contextualising the 50 story missions is a narrative that essentially acts as a guided road trip across the map, starting in Detroit before heading to New York, Miami, Las Vegas and finally Los Angeles. You play as an undercover agent who looks strikingly like Breaking Bad’s Walter White tasked with infiltrating the 510s, a gang that dominates the illegal street racing scene across the country.
The story is told through a series of cinematic CGI cut scenes and in-game dialogue, complete with animated avatars representing the chattering characters similar to Driver: San Francisco. From the snippets I saw, you can tell it was heavily inspired by Fast and Furious. Granted, it’s not exactly an original storyline, but, like Driver: San Francisco, it doesn’t take itself too seriously – which is exactly what the developers intended.
“It’s not Shakespeare,” Creative Director Julian Gerighty jokes. “But I’ve always been much more motivated by driving games when they’ve had a small premise. I zipped through Driver: San Francisco in a couple of days because I kept being driven forward by the story. It was the same for the Black Box Need for Speed games.”
“Mechanically, my favourites are the Criterion games, but as experiences I love the Black Box ones: Undercover, the original Most Wanted and even The Run had something that was driving me to play a little bit more than just ‘here’s a circuit’ or ‘here’s an open city and there you go’.”
“When I joined the team, with such a huge world I felt it was necessary to bring a structure there to take you on this road trip. It doesn’t force you into it, but it’s a suggestion: ‘There’s this premise, there’s this flavour in this world – would you like to join us on this road trip?’ and I think it works really well.”
However, you might be wise not to write it off, because The Crew has some serious writing talent behind it.
The premise was written by Christian Cantamessa, who was the writing Creative Director of Red Dead Redemption, while the actual writing of the game was done by Reflections’ James Worrall, who previously worked on Grand Theft Auto Vice City, San Andreas and Driver: San Francisco, and Ian Mayor, who also worked on Driver.
“It doesn’t take itself seriously, because at the end of the day, it’s a video game. It’s fun; we’re not trying to change the world or make a statement about anything in particular. This is pure entertainment in the same way that a popcorn movie is just entertainment.”
There is a protagonist in the story, but this isn’t the focal point of the game. “To be honest, you play the car. That’s the most important thing: your character is the car. There is a character in the game, but I’d much rather you think of it as you, the car and the people that you meet.”
Originally, game was going to be called Route 66, but was later renamed to The Crew to reflect this premise. “‘The Crew’ refers to the crew of people that you’re going to recruit in the narrative, but it also refers to the multiplayer side of things,“ says Julian.
Find out more in our extensive hands-on preview of The Crew.