In its day Crazy Taxi was a successful game; the third best selling title on the platform it spawned several sequels which spanned all the consoles bar the current generation. It's upto XBLA then to continue the tradition and bring this frantic objective based racer to another new platform, causing the uninitiated to ask why they should care about Crazy Taxi and old fans to wonder if there is enough value to warrant another purchase.
Replaying games from older generations is usually pretty tough going, the jagged edges and low resolution textures on display bring into sharp focus how far visuals have come over the past 10 years. There are a few impovements present, the aspect ratio is now widescreen, the graphics have been upscaled and sound has been converted for 5.1 setups, beyond that though this is a pure port of the original which ultimately means the game looks pretty poor by today's standards.
The soundtrack further proves this point; the original versions had music exclusively from Bad Religion and The Offspring. This is noticeably missing and although the new soundtrack of songs do a capable job of eliciting the same punk rock vibe; the original tracks are so intertwined with the nostalgic experience i can't help but feel like something is missing. Custom soundtracks largely resolves this issue for those wishing to emulate the full experience.
Bring that nostalgia with you; you're going to need a large helping to soften the old school game design as it reminds you how unforgiving and unintuitive games used to be. The basic premise is you're a taxi driver picking up customers and taking them to their destination as quick as possible, you get bonuses for speed and stunts (close calls, jumps and drifting). Controls are responsive with the emphasis on over-the-top action as cars and pedestrians fly through the air while you barrel towards your objective with reckless abandon.
The gameplay mechanics take a little adjusting to with changing gears (albeit only between drive and reverse) taking some practice to get right, a technique you'll want to master though as it gives you a vital boost and allows you to perform drifts and other manoeuvres which give you the edge needed to get those coveted S Ranks. Not so easy to adjust to are some of the small things we take for granted in modern games; being dumped at the title screen after a run rather than a restart option or the career screen gets tedious, the arrow which gives a vague direction instead of explict instructions also doesn't help.
Once you come to terms with how bare bones the implementation is there is some genuine fun to be had. The game retains its addictive core with passengers giving different fares depending on their distance. Red fares for short hops, green fares offering long rides and yellow fares sitting in the middle. This adds a little strategy as you balance short blasts and multiple fares with longer drives and greater payouts; completing the journey quickly can get you a speed bonus which adds a few seconds to your game clock allowing you to squeeze in extra fares. The excitement of just delivering your passenger in the nick of time is still fun whether you played the original or not.
It's a good thing the standard gameplay is still solid as there is not a lot on offer here, Original and Arcade modes task you with essentially the same "Pick Up and Drop Off" gameplay in various timeframes up to 10 mins. For a change of pace there is the Crazy Box, a selection of mini games which challenge you to interesting varitions such as Crazy Bowling and Crazy Jump, they range from too easy to controller throwing hardness and provide a nice distraction from the main game.
Once the initial throwback experience is over it won't demand too much of your time, unless you're aiming for the achievements which oddly don't stack meaning gaining an A rank doesn't grant you the lower grades forcing you to intentionally do worse on subsequent runs. This isn't how Crazy Taxi gets its hooks in you though; if you don't find yourself screeching between final fares with seconds to spare then saying "just one more go" then your time with this game is destined to be limited.
- Fun Gameplay
- Dated graphics
- Clunky old-school design
- Small amount of content
Crazy Taxi Xbox 360 Review
Crazy Taxi can't hope to be as good as it used to be, its formula was done to death in its day and by today's standards the design leaves something to be desired. For those who did play the original though there is something to be said for having this classic title in your collection, the gameplay can be just as addictive and the rough edges can even help to replicate your original experience. Without this perspective though it is hard to see how this would appeal in today's market; unless your looking to experience a bit of gaming history there are frankly better ways to spend 800 points.
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