SHOULD I PLAY THE CREW MOTORFEST?
Play it if you’re a fan of open-world arcade racing games like Forza Horizon, and want more of that. The Crew Motorfest ditches the across-the-continent format of the last two Crew games and instead zeroes in on the islands of Hawaii, which it treats in spectacular detail. There’s so much similarity to the Forza Horizon games that it’s easy to think of The Crew Motorfest as an unofficial part of that series, although for my money, I think the car handling in Motorfest actually has the edge over Horizon.
I’ve played around three hours of The Crew Motorfest. In that time I’ve completed the Hawaii sightseeing tour playlist, started the Japanese street racing playlist, and unlocked a few upgrades for my starter car, a 2009 Honda S2000. I’ve also gotten to explore a decent chunk of Oahu.
WHAT’S AWESOME ABOUT THE CREW MOTORFEST?
• Stunning location. Hawaii’s Oahu island is a magnificent location that offers a surprisingly diverse number of driving conditions and challenges. I had a blast tearing around hairpin turns on my way down the mountainside in a souped-up Honda SVX during a duel on the Japanese street racing playlist, and galloping through the rainforest in a new Ford Bronco was a thrill. The Crew Motorfest is packed with opportunities to take in the amazing natural beauty of Hawaii, and many of the events feature characters explaining the island’s history, culture, and language.
• Cars feel great. After a few solid years of getting my racing fix from Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Horizon 5, The Crew Motorfest’s car handling feels refreshingly weighty. I was surprised to find that I preferred it to Playground Games’ casual driving model: e-brake turns and drifting felt much more accurate in Motorfest, although there was always a big dose of pure arcade provided by the nitro boost most cars have equipped. The nitro let me “cheat” on tricky turns when I made my approach too fast: I could crank the wheel into the turn and hit the boost button to safely gun it away from the apex, rather than careening into the sidewall on the outside edge. I’d feel bad about that, except for the fact that the AI cars use it all the time, too.
• Lots to do. I was initially overwhelmed by the sheer number of different playlists to check out when I first loaded into The Crew Motorfest. There are playlists for classic cars, specific manufacturers, off-roading, street races, demolition derbies, and plenty more—with new playlists inbound on a regular basis. Starting these playlists unlock new photo ops and “feats,” which include quick on-the-road activities like slalom events and speed traps, so even when I just wanted to drive around a bit, there were mini-events I could dip into at will.
• Plenty of ways to customize. In the Main Event stage area, The Crew Motorfest let me wander around and look at other players’ custom creations for their cars, and even vote on the ones I liked—although admittedly, I found most of them to be hilariously garish and awful. That was okay, because I could jump in and customize my own car collection at will, and there were plenty of after-market parts available, from custom hoods and front fenders to rear wings and side skirts. Naturally, there was also a full selection of stock and custom paint options, as well as decals, underglow effects, window tinting, and more.
WHAT SUCKS ABOUT THE CREW MOTORFEST?
• Dumb gear system. While vehicle customization is nice, the actual upgrade system for my cars was a disappointing and flat MMO-style affair that involved finding items like “rare brakes” or “epic suspension” and then slotting those items into whatever car I wanted to raise its overall "performance level" number. This just adds grind for the sake of grinding, and detracts from the real-world feeling of tuning and customizing a car—you don’t need a Mopar certification to know that you can’t use the same exhaust system on a Honda Civic Type R and a Land Rover Defender, come on now.
• Menu navigation. I found that locating specific events in the playlist menu was a pain, and I gritted my teeth every time I loaded the game and had to exit out from both that menu and the custom auto show. The menus just aren’t very well organized, and the map, which looks very nice, is unhelpful as well.
• General Ubisoftness. I say this with love, because I like most of what Ubisoft makes, but good golly their games have weird ideas about people and why we do things. The Crew Motorfest is full of cool twenty- and thirty-somethings who apparently just show up from everywhere in the world to be cool and awesome together, take selfies, do poses, and tell each other about cool things they know. It all feels very alien, kind of like a Canadian cartoon version of the Fast and the Furious universe. This isn’t a big deal by any means, but I find it funny every time I play a Ubisoft game.
💬 Will you be joining The Crew for this Motorfest in Hawaii, or have the Forza Horizons satisfied your thirst for adventures on the open roads? Let me know in the comments!