Crazy Taxi Review
You've got to admit it, Sega Dreamcast was one hell of a console. It was an ideal purchase for 2D fighting fans (Marvel vs. Capcom 1&2), it had some great adventure games (Sonic Adventure), two decent RPGs (Grandia II, Phantasy Star Online and Skies of Arcadia) and even had a favorable racing lineup (MSR, Tokyo Xtreme Racer, Tokyo Xtreme Racer 2, and SEGA GT). But aside from well-known genre titles such as Sonic and Phantasy Star, Sega's console was also home to groundbreaking software such as Virtua Tennis and Crazy Taxi. Both are considered to be two of the Sega Dreamcast's greatest games, and are also two of the best selling DC games. But if you ask every DC owner what game is probably the most recognized on the DC, he or she will most likely tell you Crazy Taxi. The arcade title ate up coins like no other, and the DC version hit it big in retail, so when Sega stepped out of the console world, it made sense that the first 3rd party game they would retail is Crazy Taxi for PS2. A game that had been rumored to be on Acclaim's release list for almost a year. I myself wouldn't believe it, and would humiliate the people who did, but man was in the shock of my life when I actually heard Sega dropped out, and then seeing Crazy Taxi running on PS2 hardware, courtesy of Acclaim! It's been a while now since all of that happened, and Crazy Taxi has shipped to retail stores a little more than a month ago. I've been so caught up in Dark Cloud, Gran Turismo 3, and Twisted Metal: Black that I almost forgot about Crazy Taxi...almost. So how well does CT fare in my book, a 7.5 doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad game. So keep reading.
This being a direct port and all I wasn't expecting any visual changes to the game, in fact it seems as if the porting process may have been rushed. Not only did it seem like it took Acclaim just a few months to port over the whole game, but also the visuals suffer from some noticeable pop-up and jaggies. That is to say, not that the DC version didn't have any of those two, because it most certainly did, it's just on the PS2 the pop-up is a little more 'there.' Now thanks to a 35" Sony TV that is able to create a split screen side-by-side image, I hooked up my DC and PS2 to the TV, set the necessary options and handed off the DC pad to our guides manager Dmitry. We began comparing the differences. For one the car model detail is exactly the same in both versions, the environmental detail is very lively and the buildings are just as solid and pretty as the DC version. But unlike the DC version, the PS2 version doesn't suffer from frame rate dropping at the game's various points. Albeit, the game does lag from time-to-time. I think I should let the screenshots do the talking in terms of visuals.
Exploration wise, Crazy Taxi sometimes feels infinite. The two cities (one San Francisco and the other and original course) are very vast, they feature dozens and dozens of locations such as the Levi's Strauss Store, Pizza Hut, KFC, baseball stadium, or a bus terminal. The environments are really the emphasis on the game's visuals. Crazy Taxi is a pretty looking game, it features a good 3D engine that if utilized a bit more could not only improve the visual performance of CT, but also define it. Next time, instead of a direct port -Acclaim-, you fella's need to use the PS2's muscle to your advantage. Oh and if I see random bugs like the ones in this PS2 port, I'm going to get really mad. It's obvious that a portion of the game was indeed rushed. Although the bugs are somewhat random, they can get in the way of the game.
By now if you haven't heard of Crazy Taxi, or don't know the concept of the game, you got some catching up to do. If you are a Dreamcast and PS2 owner, and already have a Dreamcast copy of Crazy Taxi then I suggest hitting the back button and reading some other review or article in general. If DC owners are looking for a new CT game they won't find it here, because this is 120% a direct port of the DC original. If you (a DC owner) want a new CT game, then go out and purchase Crazy Taxi 2, it's been out for about a month now. Playstation 2 owners who've never had the privilege of going toe-to-toe with Crazy Taxi owe it to themselves to at least rent the game. For those not aware of the Crazy Taxi's gameplay, let me explain it. Basically your goal will be to pick up and deliver as many passengers as possible in a set amount of time, which will increase by a few seconds if you delivery time was quick. Your car will not take damage so fear not, but still remember style and time is a factor that will rake in the big money.
Which leads to the most important subject, the more money you earn the higher your grade and ranking will be. You will have four characters and their cars to chose from, Axel, B.D. Joe, Gus and Gena. Each vehicle has its own speed, acceleration and handling characteristics, so yes everybody does use a different vehicle. In addition to the four characters and two cities, Crazy Taxi also features an extra mode called Crazy Box, these are events that are almost mission-based, beating them all rewards you with a taxi bike which is the best vehicle in the whole game. Crazy Taxi plays identical to it's Dreamcast counterpart, the action is fast and at times addictive. Crazy Taxi is a very fun arcade title, although be warned it doesn't offer much variety and to some it may get worn out quickly.
Even though the soundtrack features all time greats Bad Religion and punk rockers The Offspring, I still share disappointment in the sound because the soundtrack is incredibly repetitive and short. In total, I believe there are only 6 songs, and if you're a fan of both or either band you should be well aware that their songs are relatively short. There are some voices involved, your passengers will shout at you, and some even curse. And your character will speak to the passengers as well. For the most part the sound is good, but a wider soundtrack is a must.
The control transition is pretty much flawless between the two versions. Even though the DC pad and PS2 pad are completely different and feature no resemblance what-so-ever, playing the PS2 version of Crazy Taxi is just as comfortable as playing the DC version. You can change your preference of control if you like, you can have it set to either X and O as being the shifters and L1 and R1 as the accel/brake buttons. Or the complete opposite, just as you can in the DC version. The analog stick is ideal for precision and is my method of handling, but some may complain that it's too sensitive, it sure gets my approval though.
Overall Acclaim's Cheltenham Studios did an great job in porting over one of the DC's best games. Crazy Taxi is an enjoyable game, but those who have the DC version do not need this game, they will be highly disappointed to learn that absolutely nothing new has been added to the "direct-port." Even though the visuals have suffered during transition, this is still the same game, be it a good or bad thing... you decide. Personally if I was someone who had never laid hands on the DC title, I would quickly rush and buy Crazy Taxi, but then again there are those who may purchase the game just to say they have a piece of videogame history.
6/29/2001 Arnold Katayev