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The Crew Motorfest Review – Imitation on the Horizon (PS5)

Upon launching The Crew Motorfest, players are immediately struck by a sense of déjà vu that’s hard to ignore. The game’s initial moments bear an uncanny resemblance to the acclaimed Forza Horizon series, leaving players to briefly question if they’ve mistakenly picked up the wrong title.

Developed by Ivory Tower, the same studio responsible for the groundbreaking Test Drive Unlimited in 2006, The Crew Motorfest takes its high-octane racing escapades to the picturesque Hawaiian island of Oahu.

The Crew Motorfest is out now and is available on PC, PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

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One of The Crew Motorfest’s standout features is its “playlist” structure, which introduces a fresh approach to gameplay. Players are presented with a handpicked selection of themed challenges that can be taken on solo or in cooperative mode. These challenges provide a tantalizing glimpse into the game’s diverse array of vehicles, including not just cars but also motorcycles, stunt planes, and powerboats.

What’s surprising is that the game offers so many opportunities to explore this varied lineup that players may find themselves neglecting the cars they actually own, using them only for the commute between events. In a departure from its predecessors, which featured a condensed version of the entire United States, The Crew Motorfest opts for a more intimate setting. While this decision has its merits, it does mean that some of the series’ unique charm and the sense of continental scale have been sacrificed in the pursuit of a polished, Forza Horizon-like experience.

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The Crew Motorfest offers multiplayer modes that are anything but mundane. Grand Race events involve long-distance point-to-point races with mid-race vehicle swaps and can accommodate up to 28 players, leading to the comical sight of 28 F1 cars vying for space on public roads. On the flip side, Demolition Royale feels like the lovechild of the classic PS1 game Destruction Derby and the battle royale sensation Fortnite. Colorful bangers rain down from the sky, power-ups litter the battlefield, and the last vehicle standing emerges victorious.

Motorfest’s core premise revolves around a familiar concept – a massive motoring festival that descends upon a new location, transforming its streets and skies into a haven for races and showpiece events. At the heart of Motorfest’s single-player mode lies its Playlists, which function as distinct racing disciplines.

Playlists are a hugely important part of The Crew Motorfest.
Playlists are a hugely important part of The Crew Motorfest.

These Playlists offer a more flexible experience compared to those in Forza Horizon. For example, the “Rule The Streets” Playlist, a collaboration with the YouTube channel Donut, features races with unconventional car pairings and delves into the world of custom builds with a spirited approach. Similarly, the “Made In Japan” Playlist combines drifting with Japanese mods and neon-soaked night races, creating a vibrant tapestry of events.

The Playlist model keeps players engaged by consistently defying expectations and showcasing a diverse range of racing experiences. They also serve as a fantastic way to explore O’ahu, uncovering hidden locations and terrains. The Crew Motorfest boasts an astonishing roster of over 600 vehicles at launch, ranging from planes and boats to quad bikes, regular bikes, and, of course, an abundance of cars.

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In contrast to other games that emphasize growing your own collection, Motorfest frequently provides loaner vehicles for races as you progress through the game, taking away the satisfaction of purchasing each car. While specific Playlists may necessitate the acquisition of certain vehicles, these barriers to entry are not overly daunting.

Each vehicle category features distinctive handling characteristics, with supercars and F1 racers exhibiting agility while 4x4s exude heft, especially when navigating different terrains. Motorfest encourages players to veer off the racing line and venture off-road in the most unlikely vehicles. The ability to seamlessly switch between cars, planes, and boats adds to the game’s playground-like atmosphere.

The backdrop of O'ahu is truly stunning.
The backdrop of O’ahu is truly stunning.

O’ahu, the backdrop for Motorfest, is a visual masterpiece. The real-life location was thoughtfully selected, offering a diverse range of environments, including volcanic peaks, city streets, winding mountain roads, and lush jungles. However, O’ahu’s scale, while stunning, does not match the vastness of the fictionalized United States featured in The Crew 2. This results in shorter, less epic drives, which may actually appeal to players seeking a more focused experience.

Motorfest does not rigidly adhere to realism, allowing for the inclusion of fantastical elements like giant neon-lit dragons in races or enormous signage in specific events. This artistic liberty infuses the game with a visual flair that might leave Forza Horizon developers envious.

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While The Crew Motorfest has much to offer, it is not without its shortcomings. The absence of a substantial vehicle damage model is a notable disappointment, as the game only inflicts cosmetic damage on vehicles. Additionally, the shift to an always-online model can be a significant source of frustration for players, especially when server issues arise.

The Crew Motorfest delivers an enjoyable and visually stunning open-world racing experience. It combines a breath-taking Hawaiian backdrop, a diverse selection of vehicles, and inventive Playlists to craft an appealing racing adventure. However, in its quest to emulate the polished style of Forza Horizon, the game has shed the grit, charisma, and ambitious scale that defined its predecessors.

In summary, The Crew Motorfest is a visually impressive game with top-notch graphics and a sleek presentation. While its menus, car models, and environments are all well-crafted, it often feels overly polished and sanitized to the point of appearing somewhat bland. Furthermore, the game’s emphasis on loaner vehicles during Playlist races diminishes the need for players to buy or customize cars, contributing to a somewhat soulless experience.

The Crew Motorfest – 7/10

The Crew Motorfest was reviewed on PS5 with a code supplied to FandomWire by Ubisoft.

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Written by Daniel Boyd

Dan is one of FandomWire's Gaming Content Leads and Editors. Along with Luke Addison, he is one of the site's two Lead Video Game Critics and Content Co-ordinators. He is a 28-year-old writer from Glasgow. He graduated from university with an honours degree in 3D Animation, before pivoting to pursue his love for critical writing. He has also written freelance pieces for other sites such as Game Rant, and The Big Glasgow Comic Page. He loves movies, video games and comic books.