The Crew Motorfest Review – À La Car

The Crew Motorfest serves up a strong menu of entertaining arcade racing experiences that look and feel great.
The Crew Motorfest

The Crew Motorfest is an open-world arcade racing game whose priorities seem to be approachability and variety of entertainment above all else – more so than the actual cars and racing. It’s not an accurate or realistic driving game, and it isn’t pitching itself as such. But it is full of very good driving experiences that look and feel sensational, and gives you the thrills you need to satisfy all your motoring fantasies, very quickly.

Racing game enthusiasts will likely compare Motorfest to the Forza Horizon series, and Motorfest does continue to put its own spin on the open-world car festival scenario. But look a little closer under the hood and it’s clear that The Crew Motorfest is quite happy to sit in the entertaining little niche it’s carved out for itself. Where Forza Horizon still prides itself on the strength of its car simulation, passed down by its parent title Forza Motorsport, The Crew Motorfest feels like it’s begun to push much more on the rollercoaster tourism aspect of the idea, breaking rules and kicking down barriers for the sake of excitement. This is a good thing.

Screenshot: GamesHub via Ubisoft

Motorfest’s virtual rendition of Hawaii is a very nice location to get lost in. From the cities and townships that accurately evoke real-world Honolulu, to the lush jungles, beautiful beaches, and gorgeous weather and lighting systems. Like The Crew 2, many of the best moments in Motorfest can be found during the curated races that make the absolute most of the environments, mapping tracks in such a way that gives you the perfect outlook on a grand vista, or gets you to power through that final stretch during a blinding sunset, or barrel down a dark mountain in the rain.

These curated races are categorised into several “Playlists”, a series of mini-campaigns that revolve around different themes, whether it be styles of racing, type of vehicle, or general vibe – the vibe ones being my favourite. They’re well done in that the individual events in each playlist do feel distinct from one another, to avoid the monotonous feeling that sometimes creeps into arcade racing games. And the fact that you can just hop in – no need to actually purchase or upgrade your vehicle to suit the event – is a very welcome decision.

Screenshot: GamesHub via Ubisoft

Motorfest just wants to get you in there and enjoy the arcade-style thrills, whether it be a simplified but expressive version of F1 Racing or a leisurely cruise down the coast in a Kombi van, and it’s a very welcome approach – though the various guides that provide commentary through each playlist can be hit or miss. The AI assistant could afford to pipe down a bit too.

By default, driving feels weighty and satisfying while seeming to keep a nicely balanced approach to car handling – not too easy, not too frustrating. Aspects like one-touch drifts and well-balanced races in most cases keep things moving along nicely, with adaptive difficulty to cater to your performance, and a very snappy implementation of the now-common rewind feature.

Car customisation is straightforward to the point where you don’t need to think to hard about it, and though there are options to make things more demanding for yourself, it doesn’t feel like The Crew Motorfest is really designed to thrive in that area – hell, the side and rear mirrors in the cockpit view don’t even function properly on the PlayStation 5 version, due to an absence of screen space reflections. Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport this is not.

Screenshot: GamesHub via Ubisoft

And though there is significantly less emphasis on them compared to The Crew 2, The Crew Motorfest still features the ability to fly planes and charter speedboats through gorgeous environment, with the often amusing ability to switch vehicles as the press of a button. It takes a lot of the tedium out of open-world traversal, and being up in the air or out on the ocean really helps the environment shine.

The Crew Motorfest is a strong, kitchen-sink arcade racer that executes evocative racing and car culture experiences without actually requiring the level of pressure, know-how, or commitment to fully enjoy them. The feeling of being able to quickly and easily jump in and enjoy the sights, sounds, and different flavours of vehicular action is a boon all on its own.

Four Stars: ★★★★

The Crew Motorfest
Platforms: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One
Developer: Ivory Tower
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: 11 September 2023

The PlayStation 5 version of The Crew Motorofest was provided and played for the purposes of this review. GamesHub reviews are scored on a 5-point rating scale. GamesHub has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content. GamesHub may earn a small percentage of commission for products purchased via affiliate links.

Edmond was the founding managing editor of GamesHub. He was also previously at GameSpot for 13 years, where he was the Australian Editor and an award-winning video producer. You can follow him @EdmondTran