June 4, 2001
Crazy Taxi - Review
When Crazy Taxi was released in the arcades back in mid 1999 it was admired for two reasons. Firstly, it was one of the first games to run on the Dreamcast based Naomi arcade chipset. Secondly, it was admired for it's innovative and exciting gameplay, which brought a much needed fresh idea to the arcades. No longer were player playing a racing game with a finish line. This is a game where you play as any of four fearless cabbies who are driven by a single goal: to rack up the mega-bucks in fares and tips before their shift ends. Drivers pick up passengers and take them to their destination by any way possible, and that includes taking some severe shortcuts. In January 2000 Sega unleashed a truly arcade perfect conversion on the Dreamcast.
|Hmmmm. Better make a right here.|
Fast-forward 12 months. Sega have realised the Dreamcast is a dead system, and officially announce that they will be porting their games to other console systems. Following the deal that saw Acclaim publish Sega's superb Ferrari F355 Challenge outside Japan Sega announced that Acclaim will be porting 3 Sega games to the Playstation 2, including Crazy Taxi. Initial previews and screenshots of the game were less then convincing, but fortunately the last couple of month's development have done wonders for the conversion. So confident is Acclaim of the games success that their initial worldwide shipment has reached a staggering 400,000 units.
|The Fila store, based on reality.|
To this day few games have cities with as many pedestrians, traffic and buildings as Crazy Taxi. The cities seem so alive and include real life locations such as KFC, the beach, stadiums, Pizza Hut and more. Crazy Taxi is set in 2 different courses, one from the arcade game and the other an original city for the home port. Each of the 4 cabbies on offer has different cars, and personalities. To assist you take the passengers to their destinations the game includes a green guiding arrow. Within a few minutes you will realise that the arrow doesn't necessarily suggest the quickest route. If you can see a shortcut to a destination, take it. If that means cutting through a park, driving through a crowd of people or going the wrong way along a street, so be it. This is one hell of a ride.
|SOMETHING TO NOTE
While the PS2 version of Crazy Taxi has only just been released, Dreamcast owners can look forward to the sequel, Crazy Taxi 2, this July. As yet there are no plans to release the sequel on anything other Sega's system, but it's possible.|
While Crazy Taxi is tremendous fun, it's not perfect. The biggest fault with the game, and this became very apparent with the Dreamcast version, is that it doesn't take more then a few plays to see almost everything on offer. The customers are always in the same positions, there is no weather conditions or different times of day (this would be tremendous with night time driving) and with only 2 cities to drive around it becomes all too familiar. The Crazy Box challenges are quite difficult, but become frustrating more then challenging after a while.
Exactly why Sega would allow Acclaim to develop one of their most profitable games in recent years may never be known, but there is little doubt that Acclaim Studios Cheltenham have done a brilliant job of converting the game to the Playstation 2. One of the conditions of Acclaim handling the title was that it be an exact copy of the Dreamcast game. No extras, no gameplay changes, and no other differences. Gameplay is an exact replica of the Dreamcast game. It's fast, it's fun, but it's all over too soon.
|The $ signs indicate passengers.|
Compared to the latest Playstation 2 game such as Formula One 2001 and Gran Turismo 3, Crazy Taxi is beginning to look a little dated. Not really a surprise when you consider the arcade game is 2 years old now. When you consider the amount of cars and pedestrians in the game however the frame rate holds up remarkably well, although there are some very small instances of slowdown, just like the Dreamcast version. Unfortunately, the conversion to Playstation 2 isn't 100% perfect as the game contains some instances of popup in the distance. It's not too noticeable while playing, but while watching it becomes quite apparent. People who play the arcade or Dreamcast version will also notice a slight drop in texture quality in some areas of the cities and on the cars.
Sound-wise the game is a mixed bad. The music, from bands such as The Offspring and Bad Religion, is perfectly suited to the fast paced action of the game but becomes very repetitive after only a couple of plays. For some reason the speech of the cabbies has been altered in the Playstation 2 game, and sadly it's worse the Dreamcast game. The cabbies seem to have lost all sense of personality. Fortunately the cities are littered with sound effects such as passengers shouting out and other cars beeping.
|KFC. A place of much importance.|
Crazy Taxi is an interesting game in that it's tremendous fun while it lasts. Unfortunately for some people the game may be over all too soon, with all the game available at the beginning. Still, as an exact port of the Dreamcast game Acclaim Studios have done an admirable job. Dreamcast owners would be better off picking up their version but if you only have a Playstation 2 and like fast action, cool music and plenty of excitement then this game is probably for you.
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