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Review: Crazy Taxi (PSN and XBLA version)

crazy taxi

(Quick Note: For the purposes of this review, the rating for combat is for car environment interaction; crashes, bumping into walls etc)

Before I start, yes I am aware that most of the planet understands what Crazy Taxi is and how awesome it is. I understand that it came out in arcades in 1999 and console ports followed in less than a year. But mostly, I understand that people need other people to tell them how awesome something is – even if they already know.

So I’ll say it once for you guys to print out and hang up next to your receipt, to remind yourself the purchase was worth it. The original Crazy Taxi is awesome.

This version, on the other hand, is a lot like playing the ghost of Crazy Taxi.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll quickly do a catch-up paragraph for anyone unfamiliar with the Crazy Taxi franchise so you will understand exactly what I’m talking about.

Crazy Taxi is a sandbox driving game where the aim is to pick up and deliver passengers to different parts of a city (or two cities depending on the version) as quickly as possible, gaining time and money for each successful delivery. When you run out of time, it’s game over. The gameplay is particularly addictive due to the high speed and acceleration of the taxi you drive – as well the lax physics of the game allowing you to get a lot of air off jumps, drive under water and bounce off other cars. There are also a set of “Crazy Box” challenge missions, aimed at improving your driving and exploring some unique (and fantastical) map designs.

So back to the differences between Crazy Taxi (the original) and Crazy Taxi (for PSN and XBLA). The core gameplay hasn’t changed much, although I did notice a tendency for the cab to get stuck in join between footpath and wall (causing it to slide, while on a diagonal, along the edge of the footpath at high speed). It’s more the budget cuts that had to be made to reduce a full price game to a $10-15 dollar title.

First up, all the shops have been renamed. Instead of KFC you get Fried Chicken Shack, instead of Pizza Hut you get Pizza Parlour and instead of Tower Records you get the (ingeniously titled) Record Store. I know what you are thinking; “who cares what they are called? That’s not gamebreaking at all” and I agree with you, in fact I was in that boat before I bought it. But it’s the kind of thing that will grate at you, especially if you played a lot of the original game.

Speaking of grating, the classic (some would say game-defining) soundtrack of Offspring and Bad Religion has been trashed (assumedly for the same reason as the shop titles got changed, it was either too difficult or too expensive to sort out the royalties). Now while this was only 4 songs in the original version, and it has been replaced with somewhere around 8-12, believe me when I say this is a potentially game breaking change.

Mostly because the new music sounds a lot like:

  1. a “Panic At the Disco!” tribute band trying to write new lyrics, or
  2. The bottom-of-the-barrel scrapings from the “Punk/Emo” bin at your local “Record Store”

Luckily there is an easy fix, simply download the 4 songs of the original soundtrack and use your 360 to set up a playlist, then turn off music in the game options. But should you really be putting that much work into a game you only bought for $15 bucks? Personally I decided no. But I’m pretty lazy.

The up side of Crazy Taxi on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360? It’s still Crazy Taxi on PS3 and 360. The maps, both the Arcade map and the “Original” map added to the console versions, are unchanged apart from cosmetic differences and they still have that classic Crazy Taxi addictive feel.

“Crazy Box” is also unchanged, and has quite the decent difficulty curve. I spent many nights trying to bowl (drift) a perfect game on one of the challenges, and I saw a notable increase in my skillz after I completed all of the challenges. And that’s really what you want from a challenge game mode.

For a game which was made over a decade ago for game arcades (remember those?), Crazy Taxi has aged incredibly well (inherent racism around the character of B.D. Joe aside). It’s still fun, fresh and a great way to spend 3-6 minutes while your friends decide what game to play. Personally I’ve got at least 10-15 hours of gameplay (admittedly repetitious for most of that, and spread over 8 months or so) and for less than the ticket price of a movie – that’s a pretty awesome deal.

So I guess if you have never played Crazy Taxi I would buy this game.

If you have somehow lost your copy of Crazy Taxi buy this game.

But if you still have a copy of Crazy Taxi and an older console which plays it, then I would just laugh at the people who are forced to play this watered down version of a gaming classic instead.

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