First things first: you should play The Crew. It's wonderful, honestly. If, like me, you glossed over it last year because you were already playing Forza Horizon 2, or because you'd heard the online service was flaky at launch (it was), or because you were in a sulk with publisher Ubisoft over Assassin's Creed Unity, now is the perfect time to correct that.
The Crew: Wild Run
The Crew is an astonishing achievement. The game world takes care of that single-handedly, offering the entirety of the continental United States, masterfully compressed and pruned into a playable, driveable space. But it's not the vastness that's impressive, it's the level of fidelity and the authenticity of its character.
Cities and towns are oversized, compared to the network of roads and acres of countryside between them, but that's in order to make each one a convincing, recognisable and explorable space in and of itself. Dallas might never be the sole inspiration for an open world game, for example, but here you can roll through the dust-skirted suburbs as the downtown skyscrapers rise to meet you. What's more every location, regardless of size or significance, feels hand-crafted, with appropriate architecture, distinctive buildings and local flora and fauna.
Between those more populous areas, on the highways and byways, The Crew is an ode to the great American road trip. Not one in particular, nor just the ones cherry picked by Hollywood or Kerouac, but all of them. At once.