If you're disappointed that Ubisoft Reflections' new open world racer isn't a sequel to 2011's underrated Driver: San Francisco, then take a deep breath.
The Crew is basically a next-gen, persistently online Driver without any of the fluff. It's an open world racer spanning the entirety of the United States, and while a story-based campaign based around infiltrating criminal organisations will feature, it hopefully won't involve superpowers. According to a Ubisoft rep, it'll take an hour and a half to drive from West Coast to East in The Crew's "idealised" version of America: idealised because it comprises only the best roads in the nations. That's 5,000 square miles of road to explore.
So if you relished the cheesy caper drama of Driver then you may be disappointed, but in terms of raw game mechanics The Crew offers a similar enough experience. We competed in both a standard race and a take down scenario, and the latter was the most impressive demonstration of The Crew's next-gen prowess: crashing through picket fences and road signs no longer causes a flurry of flat textures to fall across your windscreen: debris looks heavy and dangerous, and it's great fun just ruining stuff. We had a team of six tasked with taking down a Hummer in beachside Miami, and while the mode is ostensibly cooperative, players accrue more XP if they do more damage, so there's a competitive tension to the match.
The Crew is a persistent online racer. Imagine Destiny with cars, basically: you'll constantly be encountering other real world players without any loading screens, lobbies or pauses. Players can form crews and complete race missions cooperatively, or they can compete against ghost records.
As in Driver, you'll be able to warp to different locations via a smart Google Maps-esque interface. Customisation is a key priority: players can build vehicles from the ground up via an iOS and Android app that communicates directly with the game. It's one of the smartest interfaces we've seen, and you'll need to use it because terrain and surfaces will change dramatically throughout the game world.
The Crew has only been "official" since Monday, but it already looks more promising than both Sony and Microsoft's flagship next-gen racers. Driver be damned, then.