For automotive enthusiasts, today is a big day. Today, September 14, 2023, is the official launch day of The Crew Motorfest, and we, who have been playing it for several days, can assure you that it’s everything it promised to be. And a bit more.
Ever since we saw the first trailer, the comparison with the revered Forza Horizon has dominated all the covers of the specialized press. And it’s understandable; the new Motorfest resembles Horizon from the very beginning to the very end.
The thing is, this isn’t a bad thing. Not at all, it’s fantastic: being compared to the best arcade racing game in the industry is always great news. Especially when you have a couple of aces up your sleeve, as the new The Crew Motorfest does.
A beautiful and powerful car game where driving and having fun is everything
In essence, The Crew Motorfest is an open-world racing game, much like the recent Lego 2K Drive and the mentioned Forza Horizon 5. Despite all the different types of vehicles and special events in Motorfest, most of the game involves driving fast and exotic cars on a beautiful Hawaiian island at ridiculous speeds.
And yes, there’s hardly an original bone in its body, and you’ll notice influences from many other games.
Street races with nitrous are reminiscent of Need For Speed: Unbound, taking off in an airplane and soaring through the blue skies is akin to GTA 5, and taking photos on a cliff with great views is 100% Forza Horizon 4.
The playlists are everything… and they’re pretty good
The Crew Motorfest is divided into “playlists,” which are thematic sets of events. In this sense, it sounds like any other modern racing game, but here the game lists have their own flavor and can be tackled in the order you choose, as long as you can afford the car to unlock them.
Some playlists are straightforward, like classic drift tests in a Fast and Furious-style Japan, while others are incredibly appealing, like off-road forest stretches and mountain biking, or they come with charisma, like the Donut Media-endorsed showdowns where you’ll discover who’s faster in a Ferrari or a Lamborghini.
Others are clever, like the retro playlist that adds appropriate screen filters for the decade with cars from the ’50s to the ’80s, complete with a licensed soundtrack that includes Blondie and Bill Haley and his Comets.
From the car to the plane, passing through the jet ski
It’s incredible how many compelling disciplines are available in one place. The planes have two control modes, allowing novices to tilt and experts to roll freely.
Both boats and planes are affected by visible crosswinds. You can even drive last year’s Red Bull F1 car, managing its tires in closed-circuit races. The Red Bull car cannot suffer visible damage (and most cars have very mild damage), but you can play authentic destruction derbies online, with impressive deformation technology. It’s brutal.
Graphically, it’s beautiful. It’s not photorealistic, but rather stylized and idealistic, although all visual elements are realistic to some extent. The lighting is impressive, the physics of fabrics is incredible when you knock down an awning, and almost everything in the environment can be crushed or destroyed.
Hit a trash can, and the wooden slats will become misaligned. Hit it from below, and the top part will fall off. Although the usual problem persists, where circuit obstacles are so fragile that they reduce the difficulty of driving, few games have managed to combine this level of detail with truly epic draw distances and gameplay versatility.
From boat to racetrack, from the sky to off-road terrain… the game world is truly your playground, and that’s something even Forza Horizon 5, as good as it is, can’t quite match.
A racing game where driving is either too easy or impossible
Car handling is disappointingly loose for the most part, which is a shame if you want to have ultra-precise time trial sessions, although some types of vehicles respond well enough to be taken relatively seriously.
With driving aids disabled, cars tend to oversteer a lot and have difficulty drifting. That’s fine when you’re playing solo, but when you race online and see everyone disappearing down the road, playing with stability assistance and traction control makes The Crew Motorfest truly come to life.
It’s not so serious to play like a simulator but rewards smart track reading. Success depends more on reading the road and the race than on textbook cornering technique.
And although you can rewind at any time (and you will), with basic traction aids enabled, you may hardly need to rewind, making everything much more fun. My advice is to play it like a pure arcade racing game.
And now go buy it, it’s the best racing game of 2023 by far.