The Crew Motorfest Review
The Crew Motorfest is the latest from Ubisoft’s street racing franchise that ditches its roots in favor of an open-world facelift reminiscent of Forza Horizon 5. Set in sunny Hawaii, it’s a veritable festival of motor racing as we get the whole range of cars from modded Japanese rockets, American muscle, and even motorboats, motorcycles, and bi-planes. There’s something for everyone!
Is there more than meets the eye with The Crew Motorfest or is it just riding Forza’s gilded coattails? Start your engines, racers, it’s time to soak up that sun, beach, and exhaust!
Ticket To Ride
The Crew Motorfest continues with what previous installments have established, despite the new open-world direction. Don’t let the sunny disposition of the game lull you into thinking it has eschewed its street racing stripes; its DNA still remains strong with this title, you only need to look. While we start off with the free driving around the main stage, the gameplay loop revolves around participating in playlists.
Playlists are different events divided in accordance with the theme of said race. Some examples include “Made In Japan” featuring modded Japanese cars, “American Muscle” featuring classic muscle cars, and “Hawaii Scenic Tour” is a leisurely drive around the area without the pressure of qualifying. These playlists range from 7-10 events where you’re rewarded after completing them.
If there’s one thing that The Crew Motorfest excels in, it’s their individual races. You can set your difficulty to complete these events to however you want, but the higher the difficulty, the better the rewards. While some events require you to place in the top three, win the race altogether, or just complete the drive in the case of scenic tours; placing first rewards you with gear to be used to upgrade your vehicle collection.
Many of the playlists loan you a car to test drive, and it’s actually a pretty cool system where you can try out several cars before actually committing to owning them. While it could be cool to actually own your own Ferrari or Lamborghini, until you make a decision to actually purchase it, you can participate in events where you can loan the car, try it out, and then buy it later.
Modding your collection is one of the best features in The Crew Motorfest, where it’s an easy-to-apply mechanic separated by rarity. You don’t have to be a total car nut in order to appreciate modding your cars, but I appreciate the developers thinking about novice racers and making this mechanic easy to work for them.
I also appreciate starting off with a small collection, allowing you to tinker with your vehicles and then modding them as necessary. The car parts are separated by rarity increasing the performance level of the car separated by their street tier. As you improve in skill as a player, you’ll be able to handle advanced car types.
Street racing really is their bread and butter being some of the more enjoyable aspects of The Crew Motorfest. Driving is pretty smooth especially on the easier to navigate on the easier difficulties. Controlling The Crew Motorfest on the Dualsense gives me an idea of what Forza Horizon 5 could be like on the PS5. The haptic feedback and the adaptive triggers provides a different level of immersion.
I enjoy the nitro option, giving you an advantage during a pinch. Also the guide on the tracks trains you to control your driving. It trains you to control your momentum to give you an advantage over just spamming the gas trigger. When all fails, you can always use the replay button on single player mode to backtrack if you made some errors. The brakes handle awkwardly, however, making drifting a bit of a pain.
As you gain confidence in your racing, you can always increase the difficulty for better rewards or participate in timed events that pits your modded vehicle against the best in the game. You can also participate in the motorsport racers where you can add strategy by timing your tire changes as tires wear out the longer you stay on the road. However, if you don’t plan to participate in multiplayer, I feel that single players’ options become more limited in the longevity of your experience.
The (Open) World Is Not Enough
The Crew Motorfest does quite well to introduce you to the open world where it serves as connective tissue that moves you from each playlist. As you complete more playlists, it unlocks fast travel to save the time in between islands. Personally, I enjoy the fast travel because the events seem to be spread far apart and after a while, you run out of activities despite the perception of abundance.
Unless you are aiming for the player-vs-player events, I feel that as a racing casual who prefers single player activities, The Crew Motorfest comes off a little short with providing a decent single player experience. When the novelty ends, every playlist is just another generic race in its own right. The Crew Motorfest doesn’t exactly justify the need for an open world as many of the free driving busywork feel tacked on.
There’s only so many photo ops, speed traps, and slalom challenges you can accomplish before the open world gets stale. While you unlock more challenges by completing set playlists, they appear to be more of the same activities, but set to the theme of the playlist that was completed. It gives you more busywork to unlock more car parts or level up for more rewards, but after a while, it becomes quite tedious with the grind.
Then there’s the grind to collect the cars. While you’re rewarded extra vehicles for completing the playlist activities and player level will also reward you with more vehicles, if you wish to buy specific models, it will cost you a pretty penny. The Crew Motorfest has two modes of payment: bucks and crew points. As you can guess, bucks are the in-game currency that take quite some time to build up, while crew points are purchased with real money.
I feel that this form of monetization is dated and obviously predatory to encourage “time saving” to build your collection. If you want to purchase a vehicle outright, they usually cost upwards of 200,000 to 300,000 bucks while premium cars run upwards 500,000. It takes at least a few hours to earn 100,000 bucks on standard difficulty, but it only costs 30,000 crew points to acquire said car. If you want a decent collection, prepare to grind or pay out of pocket.
What I appreciated with Forza Horizon 5 was its lottery system to give you a good set of vehicles to own in order to traverse the world. While it doesn’t have the same loaner feature that The Crew Motorfest has, it gives you more than enough cars to try out and store in the many cribs you can purchase. I can spend hours just driving through the large world of Mexico in whatever vehicle I choose, and while it can potentially happen in The Crew Motorsport, there’s so much work I have to do to get there.
Obviously, The Crew Motorfest really cannot compete with the sheer visual prowess of Forza Horizon 5, which features some of the best visuals one can have utilizing the power of the Xbox Series X. However, we could have received the same driving freedom centralized around an urban environment to highlight its street racing pedigree. Sadly, what we got is a decent clone that tries too hard to emulate its inspiration.
There was an extra layer of love provided in both Gran Turismo and Forza Horizon 5 that makes me appreciate car culture with the fun trivia surrounding specific models or exploring Mexico’s car culture that felt lacking from The Crew Motorfest. It’s difficult not to compare the two, and if it focused more on its street racing roots, The Crew Motorfest could’ve stood on its own the same way Gran Turismo 7 stood out without having to rely on an open world model.
It’s a shame because The Crew Motorfest‘s races and modding are its best features. There were playlists that feature these, but they were repetitive races with background commentaries that feel uninspired and hollow. Its presentation could’ve been punched up, because whether you like it or not, unless you haven’t heard of Forza Horizon 5; it will be compared to it and from what I’ve experienced it lacks motivation and falls flat.
What We Liked
- Excellent street racing options from arcade style, motorsport style, and even scenic drives.
- Customizations are easy-to-use and the core gameplay loop that keeps the players going.
What We Didn’t Like
- Open world doesn’t feel lived in and feels lacking in varied activity.
- Brakes handle awkwardly making drifting a bit of a pain.
- Collecting cars is a bit of a grind using the in-game currency.
- Monetization feels dated, predatory, which makes the grind feel more daunting.
Verdict: Wait For It.
The Crew Motorfest is a decent racing game that has a fun and varied racing and modding mechanics that could’ve stood on its own if it focused on its street racing roots. However, as an open world racing game, it felt lacking and could not justify why it needs to be an open world with generic activities, long grinds to acquire cars, and its dated monetization.
It lacks the freedom of open world exploration seen in Forza Horizon 5 and the punchy presentation of Gran Turismo 7 that could win over racing casuals with the celebration of car culture. Unless you’re a diehard racing fan who wants more variety to their arcade racer to tide you over until Forza Motorsport or the next outing of Gran Turismo, I would wait for a sale with The Crew Motorfest.
*The Crew Motorfest has been reviewed on the PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.