E3: We play The Crew demo and take down a Hummer [w/video]

After bringing you news of the new Ubisoft title The Crew on the first day of our E3 coverage, we're happy to report that we've had a chance to demo the title, too. The guys at Ivory Tower (a French studio under the auspices of Ubisoft) were kind enough to give us a brief walk-through with the game, followed by our running one "mission."

The whole United States will be playable when the game launches next year.

To start, the sheer scope of the open-world in The Crew is hugely impressive. We can now report that the whole of the United States will be playable when the game launches for both next-generation systems next year. You read that right. Guillaume Barry, a producer at Ivory Tower, told us that driving at full-tilt in a racecar from Los Angeles to New York would take roughly 45 minutes to an hour, depending, we suppose, on how good a driver you are. Now, we don't know exactly how densely mapped The Crew's version of the US will be, or how many cities and towns will be available to start, but the game world stacks up to be super impressive, nevertheless.

Game play feels a lot like a mix between a very well done arcade style racer, and a mission-based title like Grand Theft Auto. Cars and trucks are constructed for different styles of driving and terrain, and goals are presented as you progress. We built ourselves an off-road-ready Ford Focus ST in our demo mission, and were asked to "take down" some joker driving through Miami in a crazily tuned Hummer H2. The cityscape, roads and beaches around this virtual Miami were completely open to drive over and through, with jumps, flips and crashes resulting from too much speed and too little care on unstable bits. It's a riot, with car handling more subtle than GTA and less detailed than any of the big racing sims.

If the universe created by The Crew shows impressive use of Xbox One and PS4 hardware, the vehicle modeling is slightly less artful than some of the other new titles we sampled here in LA. Cars and environments looked slick in this pre-alpha version of the game, but not in the same league as arcade-style foe Need For Speed Rivals, for instance, and not quite as impressive as the game's launch trailer would have you believe.

One final note: The Crew is going to offer some really neat functionality for your tablet and/or smartphone when it launches. During our demo we were able to seamlessly make modifications to the car we were driving in-game, with the iPad app, using the same 'garage' menu and graphics that are found in the game. Full parameters for mobile interaction aren't fully baked yet, but we're told that social interactions, notifications out to your smartphone and a whole lot more are in the works. Scroll down below to watch the trailer.

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