Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars Review
Can you believe that Crazy Taxi has been around for eight years now? It's approaching a decade in life, and yet ports of the game continue to come. The PlayStation 2 was the first console to get a Crazy Taxi port, following Sega's hardware fold. Unfortunately, we never got to see Crazy Taxi 2 or Crazy Taxi 3 - both of which appeared as one package on the Xbox. It's crazy (pun intended) when you think about it, but the novelty of the series hasn't worn thin and the game continues to be fun. The PSP is the newest console to get a port of Crazy Taxi 1 and 2, and while some minor changes were made, these two still remain the same games we loved.
Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars (a play on the word 'warfare'), takes both the original Crazy Taxi and Crazy Taxi 2, and serves it to you all on one UMD, complete with every mode, stage, trick, and mini-game you remember. Just like the original, Crazy Taxi 1 still features the original arcade stage, as well as the all-new console stage not seen in the arcades. Likewise, Crazy Taxi 2 features two versions of the loosely-based New York City: Small Apple and Around Apple (intentionally called "Around").
If you've been living under a rock, allow me to explain the object of Crazy Taxi. You pick up passengers in your taxi, and you drive around recklessly in order to drop them off as soon as possible. The faster you reach a destination, the more money and time you get. Once your time runs out, the game ends. But you can play a time-attack mode and drive under a 10 minute limit. The concept is simple, and yet absurdly addictive. You'll quickly find yourself wanting to best your records, and there is an assortment of tricks that you can perform with your cars in order to aid you.
As I stated earlier, the game includes Crazy Taxi 1 and 2, and it doesn't skimp out on any of their features. Both games feature even more absurdly addictive gameplay outside of the core -- the mini-games! Crazy Taxi 1 has the Crazy Box, and Crazy Taxi 2 has the Crazy Pyramid. What the past Crazy Taxi games didn't have was multiplayer modes, a feature that has always been sorely missing. Well, the PSP port does have multiplayer for both games, albeit via ad-hoc, but it's an option to play with a friend, regardless.
But surely there are some differences between the console versions and the PSP ports right? Yes. Where as the Dreamcast and PS2 games ran at 60 frames per second, the PSP isn't fortunate to receive the same treatment (likely due to lack of time for optimization). Regardless, the games run at a very stable 30 frames, which is just fine and doesn't damper the experience any bit. Additionally, licenses and in-game advertisements that were once there are now gone. The licenses have expired, so no more Pizza Hut, Levi's Jeans Store, KFC, Tower Records (who are bankrupt anyways), and such. The store names have now been replaced with more generic tags, instead.
Visually, the Crazy Taxi 1 port looks about identical to the original. You'd really be hard pressed to point out any apparent differences, heck, Sega even claims that they've made some improvements to the visuals. I personally don't see any improvements, but I certainly don't see anything wrong either. Crazy Taxi 2 on the other hand, while still looking mostly identical to the Dreamcast original, does have a few minor issues.
The building textures aren't quite as detailed as they once were, and the game has some serious pop-up issues, occasionally. You'll frequently find yourself approaching nothingness, only to have an enormous chunk of the stage pop right up in front of you. I don't recall this happening on the DC version, but perhaps it's my PSP lagging behind?
On a portable console, Crazy Taxi doesn't seem very dated. While it'd have been nice to see some actual enhancements made to the graphics, this is still a good looking package that features vast cities with a lot to explore.
The largest difference, and one that is actually moot, is the soundtrack. Bad Religion and The Offspring are no longer here, instead replaced by a list of punk/screamo bands. Normally, this would suck, right? Well, it doesn't matter what the soundtrack consists of, because the PSP Crazy Taxi supports custom soundtracks! Throw in your MP3s into a Crazy Taxi folder on your memory stick, and you're set. So if you want the original CT1 and CT2 soundtracks, hit up the Crazy Taxi Wiki and you'll find the list of songs over there.
Now, again, this could be an issue with my PSP's drive not streaming the game properly, but I'm experience a lot of audio lag. For instance, my cabbie and passengers will comment on something long after that event happened. A passenger will jump into my car, and not until five seconds pass and I'm already driving, does he/she tell me where they want to go. Or, long after I've dropped the passenger off, I would then his/her comment on my driving. And the same goes for my cabbie. It goes beyond my two little examples, but it could just be my PSP aging and not streaming fast enough.
Crazy Taxi is an eight year old game, and even though the formula hasn't been corrected for errors and whatnot for this dual port, it doesn't matter. Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars doesn't have nearly enough issues for it to be considered anything but a great value. For $30, Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars is an insane deal, one that should not be looked over. You are getting a feature filled package that includes two fantastic games. You'd be pretty foolish to pass that up.
8/27/2007 Arnold Katayev