Ubisoft has recently held the latest closed beta session for their upcoming open-world, multi-vehicle racer, The Crew Motorfest, giving those who managed to gain access a good look at everything the game has to offer, including of course, the photo mode.
- THE CREW MOTORFEST // BETA -
Much like its predecessor, Motorfest features a huge line-up of cars, bikes, boats, and planes from various eras, and a well-crafted series of event playlists do a good job of introducing you to many of them. The Hawaiian island location where this all takes place is simply stunning, and drenched in car culture, while a no holds barred approach to fun thankfully replaces The Crew 2's slightly weird obsession over followers and popularity with a much more enjoyable festival atmosphere.
Even in Freedrive mode, the scaled down version of O'ahu island is a standout feature – as is the incredible 3D map that lets you zoom right in to watch other racers as they play or use it for a bit of convenient location scouting for where to take your next shot. There is certainly no shortage of beauty spots and interesting areas to visit, something that the game even reminds you of with its various 'Photo Ops' challenges that pop up as you roam.
- THE CREW MOTORFEST // 3D MAP -
The photo mode itself is largely carried over from The Crew 2 and has mostly the same functions, including some of its best bits. The camera range is huge and again completely free to move and look in any direction, although roll is limited to just 90°, while the ability to rewind and fast forward time returns as a deserved headline feature.
Presumably a spin-off from the also impressive Replay mode and Video Editor, which you reach via the photo mode by the way, a simple timeline lets you scrub back and forwards through the last 5 minutes of gameplay so you never need to worry about missing that perfect moment in the racing action.
- THE CREW MOTORFEST // REWIND -
Camera-wise, there are manual focus and depth of field settings along with a handy autofocus option that actually does an excellent job, some basic exposure and saturation settings, and a fairly rudimentary motion blur option, though no sign of a manual shutter speed or car tracking.
Either way, it certainly still helps to add a sense of motion with rotating wheels and surface blur that avoids having shots look overly static when in the racing action, while visibility options allow you to add or remove dirt and damage on your car, or even hide it and others from view altogether if you want to focus on the surroundings.
- THE CREW MOTORFEST // MOTION BLUR -
With the game having dynamic time and weather, you also get access to some environmental controls that can totally transform the atmosphere when taking shots thanks to variable options for both. Well, sort of anyway, currently the Weather setting actually cycles through periods of the day (dawn, afternoon, sunset, etc.) and the time can be adjusted by 2.5 hours in each while the pre-determined weather changes along with it.
With a shot composed, a dedicated Post FX tab houses a good selection of colour filters, rendering modes, and optical defects to add character to the image, each with their own intensity sliders, as well as a range of stylised border frames and logos that come with variable opacity.
- THE CREW MOTORFEST // VEHICLES -
It all leads to some pretty pleasing results, and the opportunity to capture car shots that go way beyond the comparatively mundane scope of a circuit racer is clear to see, and that's without even mentioning the fact that you can take to the sea or air at any time too. That said, it's not all rosy for the Motorfest photo mode, and there are certainly a few areas that could be improved.
Firstly, the UX feels quite disjointed with multiple on-screen elements, some inconsistent button assignments, and a sub-optimal order to the features. Essential focus and depth of field settings are way down on the fifth tab for example, far removed from the otherwise complementary Aiming options, and The Crew 2's handy focus visualisation effect has been removed entirely, making it much tricker to understand the weirdly opposing Start & End blur settings.
- THE CREW 2 // FOCUS VISUAL -
Even the likes of L2 / R2 and L3 / R3 have had their functions swapped around compared to the configuration in The Crew 2, seemingly just to annoy the muscle memory of returning players, and it all just results in a poor overall workflow that may initially put a dampener on your creative process.
Another thing that may have caught many people out, is the fact that while the photo mode can access the current segment of the replay timeline, it cannot jump across the splits that are created whenever entering a menu, fast-travelling, or changing events. To access those, you'll need to drop further into the Replay mode for the last race, or Video Editor for access to all clips to find the particular bit that you are looking for.
- REPLAY MODE // PHOTO MODE -
Given that the photo mode can only be accessed when in Freedrive, this soon becomes a regular process to get shots of actual races and may also make you notice that some of the most eye-catching conditions are completely lost when in the photo mode. For example, no matter which environmental options you choose, it doesn't seem possible to recreate the look of the wet night races bathed in glowing neon reflections that characterises the Japanese street races.
It is worth remembering though, that this was still a beta version of the game and, with the full release not arriving until September 14th, there is still plenty of time for things to be refined. What is already clear is that The Crew Motorfest looks set to be a lot of fun to play, and with a strong camera feature set and outstanding photographic opportunities, it will have a vast amount of potential interest for virtual photographers when they get their hands on it too.
- THE CREW MOTORFEST // EXPLORE -
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