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Crazy taxi’s should have been an easy one.Developed by the masters of arcade gaming in the heart of Sega HQ, polished to a high sheen and bursting with charisma, it had the best of everything. Where most games come into the world stunted and unsightly, with some bits missing and other bits dropping off every five minutes, here was a very pretty and good game with the rare courage to be different. In time, it will be seen as a classic, a one of a kind, a bona fide masterpiece. But in the meantime, meaning right now, when it’s just a bit too old to be new, but not quite old enough to be retro, it’s considered horribly outdated and unplayable. A freak, a relic. At least by some.
This is the sad reality of the life of a videogame. That however great a game Crazy Taxi was when it first appeared three years ago, and great it most certainly was, it’s likely to be rejected now that it’s finally made it to PC just because it’s been round the block a few times. (And because there are a couple of nearidentical sequels kicking around somewhere.) And I’d just like to say that this is sick and wrong, and not much different from tying a kitten in a sack full of rocks and throwing it in a creek. Or something equally nasty.
Help The Aged
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, a bit in the way of explanation. If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m of the belief that Crazy Taxi, in both its arcade and Dreamcast incarnations, was an excellent game. Hitmaker (one of Sega’s leading development teams) stumbled upon a hugely satisfying game dynamic when it came up with the idea of no-holds-barred cab driving, and somehow managed to present it in such a way that the arcade simplicity of the concept was preserved, yet with enough gameplay nuances in tow to assure longevity.
What’s more, the PC version you’re looking at now is a first-rate, rigorously faithful conversion of the Dreamcast original, probably one of the best console-to-PC ports we’ve ever seen. While it may be taking the piss somewhat that the game has taken this long to get to PC, it remains just as playable now as it ever was. Call me a sucker, but for this reason I’m willing to overlook, for the most part, how old the game is and what other platforms it’s appeared on, and concentrate on the virtues of what is, to my mind, a classic piece of arcade gameplay.
In A Nutshell...
But before we launch into a discussion of the game's various merits, it's probably worth describing what the hell Crazy Taxi is all about, just in case one or two of you are yet to sample the delights of extreme taxicab action. Luckily, and like all the best arcade games, it’s very straightforward.
The aim of the game is to rack up as much money as possible by ferrying passengers from place to place around one of the game’s two cities before the clock runs down. That's it. There’s no road rules, no cops, no floating power-ups or hidden coins to collect. Just you and your cab and a city full of waiting passengers.
Or at least that’s the taxi part of it. The crazy part is another story altogether. Aside from the insane physics that see you bouncing around the roads and flying through the air like a Virtua Tennis ball, these are no ordinary passengers. For some reason, every one of them is in a tremendous hurry to get somewhere. They’re also either extremely lazy or crippled, as their destinations are often less than 50 yards down the road (but may be up to a kilometre away). What’s more, they clearly have far too much spending-cash on their hands, as they tend to shower you with it every time you do something right. Narrowly avoid another car (or bus, train, truck, tram, etc) and the coins come flying (this being known as the 'crazy through’). Jump off a ramp or hill (the 'crazy jump’) and it’s another payday. Better yet, there are a couple of swift key combinations that allow you to pull off turbo boosts and power-slides (the 'crazy dash' and 'crazy drift', respectively), which not only make progress through the streets that much quicker, but may induce your mentally imbalanced and bone idle customer to reward you even more generously.
Cabbies On Crack
While it is possible to pick up and play Crazy Taxi without knowing any of this, playing the game without using the special moves is a bit like playing Street Fighter II without knowing how to throw a fireball (and don’t even think about playing without a half-decent gamepad). It’s all about rapidly executed crazy dashes and perfectly timed slides, shaving those all-important seconds off your transit time and spiralling your tips into triple figures. And this is where the game’s enormous replayability comes from. Aside from the drive to beat your high-score (or better yet, that of your mate, who, ideally, is sitting next to you and taking turns as you play) it's simply the need to become a better, crazier driver. There's always room for improvement, whether it’s in your knowledge of the cities and their many short cuts, or your skill at stopping right at the feet of every passenger, thwarting any possible delay as they scurry over to your cab. Plus, the more crazy drifts, crazy throughs and crazy jumps you can combo together without crashing into anything, the higher your tips become. And once you've got a handle on all of this, you can enjoy that other great arcade pleasure - showing off.While this addictive, mesmerising need to perfect your skills clearly succeeded in making Crazy Taxi a rather good arcade game, the whole thing works much better in the comfort of your own home. The learning curve of the game easily outlasts the occasional interactions of arcade play, where only those willing to sacrifice bucket-loads of loose change were able to master the game’s true subtleties.
That said, the game is still much better enjoyed as a social experience, where one-upmanship, mockery and disparagement are given their due consideration. But there’s no reason you can't all huddle around your household PC and pretend you own the arcade - a few cigarette burns in your keyboard casing and you'll never know the difference.
A great deal of longevity also arises simply from the size and complexity of the game’s two cities. The first of these, as featured in the original arcade game, is the more straightforward of the two. comprising a long loop with some San Fran style hills, a simple low-rise shopping district and a more problematic downtown area. It’s all pretty straightforward, with a few easily located shortcuts and plenty of obvious landmarks.
The second, or 'original’ city (introduced in the Dreamcast version) is a very different proposition. Near identical streets are joined at fiendish and confusing angles, roads cross over and under each other, circuitous byways and large city blocks ensure that a single wrong turn can result in a long and costly detour... There’s even a bloody big bay area to negotiate on one side of town. The upshot is that you can no longer rely on the guide arrow and your indifferent knowledge of the streets to get by. Clever use of shortcuts such as train tracks, underground tunnels and highway overpasses is essential. You even have to jump over entire city blocks now and again to be truly efficient.At first, much of this is frustrating, especially when you realise that the big green arrow guiding you to your destination is giving you a major bum-steer, but it highlights the fact that this is no longer just a ten minute arcade investment. And once your initial anger subsides, getting your passengers there in record time becomes much more satisfying.
The other reason Crazy Taxi is such a pleasure to play is the sheer exuberance of the whole thing. The graphics, while fairly unsophisticated, are bursting with colour and vitality. Silly voices add a measure of humour, and ridiculous jumps and bumps ensure that you never start to take things too seriously. In short, it looks and sounds like (and is) a fun game.
For some people these very elements will be a turn-off, suggesting, as they do, a shallow experience and one unsuited to the PC platform (see Dave’s Second Opinion boxout for starters). In some ways this is fair enough - whatever floats your boat and all that. And there’s no denying that this is indeed light entertainment, making few demands on your grey matter. But anyone willing to embrace Crazy Taxi's upbeat arcade aesthetic will find an incredibly gratifying game beneath, one founded on pure, distilled gameplay values and good old-fashioned insanity.It is three-years-old, and a console game at heart, but Crazy Taxi is also a brilliant game. And that’s what matters, right?
Used Car Salesmen
It’s a glaringly obvious point, and one already stated, but the fact remains that Crazy Taxi is a three-year-old game that many of us have already enjoyed in various arcade and console incarnations. And although this is, by and large, a high fidelity conversion (something we should be grateful for given the slapdash jobs we usually get), it’s a bit sad that no one thought it worthwhile to add any extra material to the game. A few extra city blocks, a few new destinations and customers, even some new shortcuts would have been nice. Indeed, having recently played a demo of Crazy Taxi 3 on Xbox, we’ve realised how much the mere addition of turbo flames on your back wheels can enhance your driving satisfaction.
Even better, what if the developers had spent a few months putting together a level editor for the game so that the PC community could get to work making their own cities and towns? Before long we could have been ferrying passengers to and fro in every major city in the free world! Or maybe that’s a bit too much to ask...
It is an almost universal truth that sequels suck. With the rare exception (e.g. The Empire Strikes Back) this is always the case in film and can, to some degree, be applied to video games as well. Do any of you remember Freespace 2? How about most of the Mortal Kombat or Tomb Raider sequels? When I was handed the sequel to Crazy Taxi, one of my favorite Dreamcast games from last year, apprehension overwhelmed me. I wasn’t sure if I could tolerate seeing one of my favorite games reduced to bargain bin trash by a knock off developer.
I wasn’t disappointed, after all.Crazy Taxi 2 is the screamingly good sequel to Crazy Taxi, putting you back in the driver's seat as you steer, crash, and bash your way through insanely fast and crowded New York streets. Do you have the cajones to make it as a real cabbie? Can you make it across town in just under two minutes? Are you going fast enough to jump over that bus?
Without giving too much away (and there ain’t too much to give away -- this is an adrenaline game, nothing more), Crazy Taxi 2 lets you drive to riches as an insane cab driver on the streets of New York. Expanding on the gameplay pioneered in the first Crazy Taxi you go really really fast, really really far, and if you’re luck, you’ll get you fares to their destinations on time.
Crazy Taxi 2 Pc
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
The name of the game is speed, and you’ll need plenty of it to deliver fares to their destinations. Using a very unrealistic, arcade simplified control style, Crazy Taxi 2 is easy to control and not that difficult to master. You’ve got brake, gas, reverse shift, and forward shift. Adding to this, and new to Crazy Taxi 2, is the hop feature, which lets you jump your car on hydraulics as you race down the road. That’s the entirety of the controls you use, making it an easy game to get into, and with four different cabbies to choose from, you’ve also got a decent variety of vehicles to use.
Gameplay is just a simple as all you need do is find a fare and pick him up. Each fare is color coded for distance, and in some cases, you’ll be able to pick up more than one fare at a time. Your task is to navigate busy, crowded streets, and deliver the fares to their destinations. You are, of course, timed. Depending on the tricks you pull off, your fare will give you a larger tip, with a bonus if you can get them to their destinations on time. In the normal game, you’ll have a scant 60 seconds to pick up a fare, although they do add a few seconds to your time for doing this. If you use one of the other gameplay modes, you can race for 3, 5 and 10 minutes, tearing up New York streets with your crazy driving.
Added in this version is a new game mode called ‘Crazy Pyramid.’ Much like the Crazy Box mode from the original, you’ll compete in several small mini-games, unlocking special game features like new cars or additional drivers. All said, this game is extremely satisfying to play, even if some of the mini-games are unreasonably hard.
Crazy Taxi 2 has excellent graphics that take good advantage of the Dreamcast console. Lacking the blur present in many other Dreamcast games, Crazy Taxi 2 has sharp, well-detailed models that are just plain good to look at. With plenty of power to spare, there aren’t any performance issues present in the game, and the racing locations are absolutely gigantic, even if you play the ‘Small Apple’ game (a smaller version of the larger ‘Around Apple’ game).
While the sound effects aren’t much to listen to, the soundtrack for this game makes it more than worth hearing. With hard and fast rock from the likes of Offspring and Methods of Mayhem, racing down crowded city streets, careening off cars and buildings, has never been more fun. The voices of the cabbies can be a little wearing at times, and don’t seem to be designed with the same quality as the original, but given how little they talk, it isn’t that distracting.
As interesting ride as ever, Crazy Taxi 2 replicates the same playability and excitement present in the original. Most definitely a worthy successor, the only drawbacks are slightly lower quality voice acting, and the fact that it is more or less the same game. Still, most people who played the original remember that it was the game that made you want to buy a Dreamcast, and the sequel is no different.