The Crew is an open-world arcade racer that met mixed reception from critics and players alike after its late 2014 release. Though the concept of a fully open world United States map and the fast-paced overall busyness of the game was appealing to many players, the controls and physics are frustrating to some and others have complained that the online play is lacking. Where The Crew demands respect, however, is its lovingly crafted major cities.
The game’s story opens in Detroit, where you’ll likely spend a couple of hours getting acclimated and improving your first car while building enough of a reputation to head out into the rest of the world. St. Louis is the very next destination. As a lifelong native of the greater St. Louis area and an actual downtown resident at one time, this was a pleasant surprise. Though the Gateway Arch was thrown into a few games over the years (many also racers), I can’t think of one other game environment even close to this effort to recreate the region. I felt this deserved some attention.
While I recognize this is largely a trick of recreating just the right number of local landmarks–Busch Stadium, the old courthouse, and the Met, among others–the feeling of approaching and exploring St. Louis was actually captured pretty well. The city’s skyline came into view while I approached from the Illinois side, the river can be crossed via the MLK bridge or a highway bearing some resemblance (especially in location) to I-64 West. Once downtown, I immediately found myself using the Arch to navigate when turned around, much the way I do when I’m really lost and wandering downtown.
There were a few things I would have loved to see while they were at it. Kiener Plaza would have been an easy addition and it would have been fun to show it to my wife. We reserved Kiener Plaza for our wedding and it was literally rained out by a hurricane. You read that right. I also didn’t see any sign of Union Station, though there was more than enough railway activity right where it should have been.
I spent some time last night recreating some of these iconic views of the city in-game using the fairly advanced camera mode. The similarities range from humorous to stunning. Please enjoy.
Todd Mitchell is a US Midwest-based comedy writer and game developer with bylines at Weekly Humorist, Fanbyte, Slackjaw, End of the Bench Sports, and more. He’s the author of Inside Video Game Creation, the founder of CodeWritePlay, and host of the GameDev Breakdown podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mechatodzilla.