|Crazy Taxi is one of those
games that makes you say "I'll just play one quick round," but has you ditching
out on studying and staying up all night, even if you have a French test in the morning.
Maybe that's just me. No matter what you have to do, Crazy Taxi will have you ditching it
to play another round. One game is so short you can help but play another, and another.
I'm a fan of short things; I love Kurt Vonnegut mainly because he writes short chapters,
short films are always pretty cool, and I'm pretty short. I get addicted to short things
because I can fool myself into thinking that I have enough time for them. But one game of
solitaire before I start my paper is never just one game. Crazy Taxi is like solitaire and
Tetris in that you arent trying to beat the game, youre trying to beat
yourself. I've been spending my spare time thinking about faster routes to KFC, and it's
just like the good old days, dreaming of falling Tetris blocks.
Crazy Taxi is super fast-paced and it's environments are very polished. In a town without cops, who wouldn't want to be a crazy taxi driver? There's no denying, Crazy Taxi delivers addictive arcade-style driving mayhem right in your living room, and I do mean mayhem. Crazy Taxi is all about making bank; time is money but so is excitement, and the more thrilling the ride the bigger the tip. So big jumps, close calls, and fancy driving are absolute necessities. The goal is to pick up passengers, drive them to their destination as quickly and thrillingly as possible, drop them off, nab the fare, and repeat process as many times as possible.
Crazy Taxi is a simple game; customers are even color-coded to indicate how far away their destination is. There is also an arrow that points in the direction of your next destination. I found that sometimes the arrow pointed at the exact turns you need to take and sometimes just in the general direction of your destination. I drove in the water more than once following the arrow instead of the road. On the expert level (unlocked with a code or by getting the top ranked license) you are forced to play without the arrow. After playing Crazy Taxi for a few manic weeks I can give directions around its fictional towns better than my own, so arrowlessness wasn't a huge problem. With only four buttons to master, the real joy of playing Crazy Taxi is getting to know the city and mastering tip-earning techniques.
You pick from four "cool" characters: the punk, the girl, the rasta guy, and the gruff old guy. Each comes with his/her own car, which handles a just little differently from the others. A lot of the time I play B.D. Joe, the rasta guy, just because I like what he says the best, but all the characters are pretty funny. There's also a super funny extra character. The drivers aren't the only ones with personality; the customers are a strange bunch. One guy always has a video camera and wants to see the town's landmarks, the punk often hangs out at the heliport, the granny is full of piss and vinegar, and the priest has a foul mouth. The only problem is that the people are always in the same position and usually want to go to the same place they always do. So you really end up perfecting one route around the city, picking up the same passengers time after time. (There is an "alternative day" code that rearranges the people)
Crazy Taxi is somewhat limited in its scope. There are only two cities, the one from the arcade version and an original for the Dreamcast. The cities are fairly large, complicated, detailed, and true to the arcade quality. But damn there's a lot of product placement. You often drive from the Pizza Hut, to the Tower Records, to the FILA store, on to Popcorn Mania, back again to Tower Records, and then on to the church. It is kind of cheesy, but in real-life cabbies are always hauling people to the Gap. I've heard a lot of criticism about Crazy Taxi and not all of it is about excessive product placement. Some people think that the game is too short and simple. True, Crazy Taxi is no Final Fantasy VIII, nor is it even a Mario 64. It's an arcade game, and meant for lots and lots of short plays.
I preferred driving by arcade rules, where quick driving is rewarded with time bonuses well as money. The other modes, work for 3, 5, and 10 minutes were kind of boring to me. They lost some of their cool arcade feel. The only thing you ever have to save is your high score and what's been completed on the "Crazy Box" mode. Crazy Box mode is basically a bunch of mini games that help you learn special driving techniques. The techniques not only help you go faster and maneuver, they also help you rack up that tip. I found the crazy drift, crazy dash, and all of the crazy permutations pretty hard to master. But what's a driving game that isn't just a little bit tricky?
The soundtrack was fine for the first few days, but after that the two songs (by the Offspring and Bad Religion) just didn't cut it anymore. The sound effects were alright, but the dialogue made me laugh. I also thought that the vibration was great; each car idles in its own way. It may just be a novelty, but I like it; it makes Crazy Taxi feel more arcade-y.
Like Driver, Crazy Taxi takes the driving game genre somewhere it has never been before. It's truly a funny and light-hearted video game. While it is rated Teen, mainly for some mild language and reckless driving, I think that it's pretty clean fun and alright for the preteen set. Its not vulgar, but Crazy Taxi is crazy. It delivers straight-up arcade fun. If youre looking for something like Driver, with more plot, this is not the game for you. Arcade is the prime word here. It is not an RPG, you don't have to unlock any tracks, and one game can only last 10 minutes. So don't go buying it if you don't like arcade games. If you do like arcade games, now is the time to start counting those pennies -- get down to the mall, and get Crazy Taxi.