Segas 1999 release of Crazy Taxi was a boon for the system
and for arcade fans everywhere. It had that certain quality that placed it among the best
games on the Dreamcast not because it was groundbreaking or revolutionary, but rather
because it was simply a lot of fun to play. Its one of the few older games that
never quite made it into retirement; it always seemed to find its way into my DC for a
quick spin around the city.
Perhaps in my case it is
precisely this longevity of the first Crazy Taxi that works against the superb sequel.
Crazy Taxi 2 is a solid, well crafted sequel that adds two new cities, four new cabbies, a
host of new mini games, and a new special move for the cars. These additions aside, Crazy
Taxi 2 has changed remarkably little from the first installment. While there is virtually
nothing wrong with the game, it is plagued by a troubling sense of "been there done
that" which makes Crazy Taxi 2 difficult to get excited about.
For those unfamiliar with the franchise, in Crazy Taxi 2 you select one of four
available cabbies. Your job is to pick up fares, successfully navigate the large
metropolis, and deliver your clients to their destination as fast as possible. The faster
the passengers are delivered, the more bonus time you earn. The crazier you drive, the
more tips you earn. When your time is exhausted your total income is tallied and you are
ranked by how much cash you earned during the day.
The cities seem smoother than those of the original installment.
While its difficult to estimate and compare the size of the stages, the cities in
Crazy Taxi 2 are more intricately designed featuring more shortcuts, more twists and
turns, and more interactive geography that make the cities feel larger than those of Crazy
Taxi. The mini games have likewise been improved. In Crazy pyramid mode you are faced with
a slew of increasingly difficult challenges. The early tests have you completing simple
tasks designed primarily to help you develop the basic driving skills necessary to excel
at the game. The later challenges combine several different skills and require nearly
flawless execution to successfully complete. While Crazy Taxi veterans will have long
since mastered the skills necessary to dominate the early rounds, the later challenges are
hard enough to test even the most skilled drivers. The mini games are very difficult, very
fun, and a masterful addition to the game.
The most significant change in gameplay is the addition of the crazy hop, which
allows you to do precisely that. With the touch of a button your yellow cab is sent
hurling through the air, over traffic, over pedestrians, and even over small buildings.
The crazy hop is a fundamental part of the game and virtually all of the short cuts and
secrets require the use of the crazy hop in one way or another. Gameplay has also been
altered with the introduction of the multiple fare. Certain fares wait in groups of up to
four people and can be picked up together. All the different customers are going to
different destinations, which means that you better know your way around the city if you
want to get them all to their destination on time. All of the customers have the same time
allotment, and all must be delivered on time if you want to get paid. On the upside, tips
are multiplied by the number of customers in the car, so there is an opportunity to make
lots of extra money.
and graphics remain unchanged aside from the exceptions noted above. The soundtrack is
passable but not memorable, featuring bands such as the Offspring and Methods of Mayhem.
The original Crazy Taxi featured customizable settings for traffic and time difficulty. I
enjoyed the ability to manipulate these features, particularly the traffic setting. It
added variety to the game and an increase or decrease in traffic changed the way the game
had to be played. This feature has been removed from Crazy Taxi 2, presumably to ensure
equality in game scores uploaded to the Crazy Taxi web page. While a level playing field
has seemingly been assured, it is at the expense of varied gameplay, and I am disappointed
to see fewer player options.
Crazy Taxi 2 is a superb game that delivers in pretty much every way it is expected to.
Excellent games on the Dreamcast are beginning to dwindle, but Crazy Taxi 2 is a testament
to the fact that they are not yet gone. Those Dreamcast owners who never got a chance to
play Crazy Taxi (do such people exist?) will certainly want to play Crazy Taxi 2. Veterans
of the series will find enough changes to warrant giving the new installment a spin, but
should be aware that it will feel much like the original. If you are hungry for new Crazy
Taxi cities and challenges, then by all means buy Crazy Taxi 2. However, if youre
tired with the Crazy Taxi process, the new installment will not rejuvenate your thirst for
driving mayhem, and I suggest a rental.