Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller
Don't you just love ads which scream 'Exclusively for Xbox', and 'Only on Gamecube'? How we laugh as the mighty PC's gnarled hands scoops up any game it chooses, to run at ridiculously improved resolutions and texture depths its maker can only dream of.
And such is the case with Crazy Taxi 3, a game 'exclusively for Xbox' which is also mysteriously available on the most multi-faceted gaming platform in the universe. Life's good when you can hop from Everquest to Microsoft Flight Sim, then back to an arcade classic at the click of a mouse, isn't it?
You probably know that Crazy Taxi started out as an eardrumperforating, retina-searing arcade cabinet. Sega's proven formula of explosive visuals married to fun periphery -steering wheel and gear lever to select Crazy moves - was designed to blow your senses for a pound, in 30-second bursts, or two minutes max if you were any good. A pixel-perfect arcade conversion arrived on PC via the ill-fated Dreamcast toy in 2000, followed by Crazy Taxi 2, a competent if unambitious follow-up from Sega's Hitmaker team, offering an approximation of New York along with the original San Francisco-styled level. The second game introduced the Crazy Hop move, which catapults cabs 20ft or more into the air.
The third incarnation of Crazy Taxi follows the formula, packing all previous content along with one whole new course, the Las Vegas-inspired Glitter Oasis. There are four new drivers (12 in total), and 25 'Crazy X' mini-challenge stages. The new game is identical to its predecessors, in that you pick up and drop off as many passengers as fast as possible, in standard (arcade), three, five j or ten-minute bursts.
We Want More!
"Just one new course!" you protest. Well, pull over here and stop that meter ticking for a second, because when we say 'one new course', we're not simply talking a teeny-tiny extra level of glitchy, overlapping polygons here.
No siree. This is a Sega game, where 'one new course' I means a hand-crafted and painfully detailed toy shop of fantasy architecture, soaked in prismatic lighting, with short cut and unlockable secrets at every turn. Put it this way, more work. will have gone into designing and play-testing the single Glitter Oasis level than Basingstoke's Festival Place Shopping Centre another good example of ill-fitting polygons.
The new landscape, like its West Coast (San Fran) and Small Apple (New York) counterparts is ibrimming with detail. A main strip of Vegas-like themed hotels at its centre is linked via a freeway to the miniaturised Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. Crazy connoisseurs will find plenty of opportunity to 'Hop' between hotels and 'Drift' across Ihe dusty canyon roads.
Where To, Buddy?
But there's something important missing from this, the third game in the series. Yes, the new Vegas level is splendid, and the graphics for all three stages have been overhauled with reflections, motion blur, night-time driving and simple flame effects. But the game hasn't really moved up a gear from Crazy Taxi 2 to justify yet another purchase.
Stuffing in four new cars, with all-too-similar drive physics, along with a few basic Crazy X challenges isn't good enough. (You'll soon tire of popping balloons and jumping logs in arenas nicked from CT 1 and 2.) This is especially true when W you consider that CT virgins can pick up the superb original for less than a tenner, which offers virtually the same experience bar a Crazy Hop or two.
If you hammered CT1 and 2 on both the Dreamcast and PC, you'll have picked up and dropped off enough vicars, schoolgirls and surf dudes to rival a real-world cabbie (at least in San Francisco), so something new was essential to keep us interested in the trade. Multiple drop-offs are all well and good, but why not allow drivers to upgrade car parts for more power and control, swap cars, or even get out on foot? A "follow-that-cab" chase sequence would have spiced up proceedings too. Also, this far along the series, we could reasonably expect an improvement in draw distance. Cars, buildings and potential pick-up points often pop up into view too late, which is made all the worse when Crazy Hopping off a multistorey car park roof at 80mph.
This lack of graphical finesse might be acceptable on Xbox, but not here.
Download Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller
Crazy Taxi has to be one of our favourite coin-ops of all time. It's Sega at its colourful and silly best, producing a beautifully-playable arcade racer with a simple but addictive premise - pick up and deliver various eccentric passengers to their chosen destination as quickly and spectacularly as you can, pulling off ker-razy stunts and short-cuts along the way.
The third in the series basically takes what was good in Crazy Taxi 1 & Crazy Taxi 2 (San Francisco and New York-style cities, tons of mini-challenges, the Crazy Hop jump, multiple passenger drop-offs) and throws in four new characters plus a brand-new Vegas-at-night level called Glitter Oasis, packed with outrageous architecture soaked in neon glitz.
Crazy Taxi 3 is enjoyable fare (sorry), but if you've already hammered the first two games, there's not much reason to splash out on a game that Crazy Drifts along a well-worn highway - Grand Theft Auto 3 includes taxi missions as a mini-game, for goodness sake. Also, it's a direct port from the Xbox, so witnessing graphical pop-ups and other glitches isn't acceptable on PC nowadays. Fun, but really not worth flagging down even on budget.
The Arcade version of Crazy Taxi was so incredibly addictive that it sucked up a frightening amount of my hard-loaned cash, and indeed my social life, during my hazy student days. Six months later the equally good consoleport was one of the Sega Dreamcast's saving graces. A perfunctory sequel followed it with an extra map and some kooky mini-games, and yet another 12 months passed before the PC version of the original lollopped into town to a muted fanfare: fun, but also dazed, confused and very much seen before. Times must have changed, however, as instead of being third or fourth on the consoleport food chain, we've now been boosted to second in the queue, receiving Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller from our bastard Xbox contemporaries.
Effectively a polished compilation of the first two games - with an added Vegas-style map - if you've never scattered pedestrians in a huge yellow taxi to the sound of Dexter Holland of The Offspring shouting Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!, then here's your golden chance.
With flames spurting from your wheels, shiny bumpers and a modicum of motionblur, there's no doubt that High Roller is a lot prettier than its predecessors. The changes, however, aren't entirely cosmetic. This time around, your car can jump over obstacles, finding loads of new short cuts in the process. It can also carry multiple passengers and discover whole new locations that have been crowbarred into existing maps, like the sudden construction of a funfair next to the baseball stadium on the West Coast level. Also added is a whole raft of mini-games to challenge your Crazy Drift and Crazy Hop skills when you're bored of hunting down punks who want to go to Pizza Hut. So you'll find yourself trying to jump higher, knock baseballs further, pop balloons faster and dislodge giant mirrorballs from disco ceilings for no reason.
The new neon-tinged Vegas map, Glitter Oasis, is easily the game's most welcome addition. With its casinos, fountains and pedestrian walkways, it's a superb place to earn your crust as a cabbie, while the lakes, canyons and hairpin turns of its surroundings make for some spectacular leaps and crashes. Elsewhere, the Small Apple level shows some Taxi Driver styling, although it's doubtful the game's engine will enable you to shoot off Harvey Keitel's fingers.
For us, however, Crazy Taxi will always be leaping over trams in the perfectly designed West Coast rush hour, and we can be thankful that this pleasure remains beautifully intact. It's true to say there's little territory in Crazy Taxi that hasn't already been covered by the GTA franchise, but its brand of energetic leapin, leap-out arcade action has rarely been bettered on the PC. We're stroking our gamepads in anticipation.
Sega Summer 2002--The Crazy Taxi Cab Company has opened a branch office in Sin City for this third installment of Sega's awesome driving series. Streak through the streets of Las Vegas in search of crazy money with four all-new drivers and cars. All you old-school cabbies will be excited to know that the original West Coast and Small Apple courses will also be present when Crazy Taxi debuts on Xbox.
While Crazy Taxi 3 is as much a joy to play as was the original Crazy Taxi, this latest Xbox only version, just doesn't bring much more to the franchise. The biggest complaint I have against this latest version of Crazy Taxi is that the graphics simply don't live up to what Xboxers have come to expect from their console. They are by no means ugly, but the game looks too much like a port of an old Dreamcast game complete with the occasional jagged edge and poor texturing.
Sound too is not really up to snuff. The cities are filled with a general droning that doesn't real work in putting you in the game and the comments of your riders quickly get monotonous. I was also shocked to hear the familiar strains of Offspring playing on my cab's radio as I cruised the streets of Glitter Oasis. Couldn't they afford at least one Elvis track instead of relying on rehashed music from previous games?
Unfortunately, Crazy Taxi remains a single player game, something that Sega better fix if they have any future plans for this quickly fading one-time wonder.
Overall Crazy Taxi 3 is an enjoyable, albeit all too familiar, ride. This game doesn't offer enough to attract people who played the original or its sequel but is certainly worth a buy if you've never tried your hand at being a cabbie on the streets of Crazy Taxi or Crazy Taxi 2.
Most Dreamcast owners agree that one of the best times they had with Sega's late console was when they were tearin' up the streets of San Francisco in the original Crazy Taxi. They'll likely also tell you that Crazy Taxi 2 came up a little short. Enter High Roller. A Crazy Taxi "director's cut" of sorts, High Roller gives you the West Coast (San Francisco) and Small Apple (New York) areas from the first two games, plus an all-new Glitter Oasis (Las Vegas) level to learn inside and out. Outside of that and some new minigames, though, this game is basically the same one you may or may not have played before. The entire experience remains easy to pick up, difficult to master and satisfying for anyone who bothers to put some effort into doing so. Besides, Crazy Taxi3 just oozes so much cool with its awesome cars and sweet tunes, you gotta check it out at least once. Crazy Taxi fans couldn't ask for much more than this. After a slightly disappointing Dreamcast sequel, CT3 brings all the best aspects of the first two games together and packages them with a third city that's simply loads of fun to play. Streaking down the Las Vegas strip (or a reasonable facsimile) with eyes peeled for your next customer before you deliver your current one is what this game's all about. It sounds almost too simplistic to be fun, but once you've figured out all the crazy techniques (which the Crazy X mode forces you to do), you'll find yourself unable to put this game down until you earn the most cash possible in all three cities. And if you feel tike you're a Crazy Taxi master by that point, you get to beat the Crazy X challenges to prove it. Lemme tell you, these are harder than any group of minigames in the previous two titles, hands down. But if you complete them, the extras you'll get (no, we're not telling) are totally worth it. I might sound like I'm gushing about this game. And white I do think a few things could be done better, such as some easier Crazy X challenges at the start and some better-placed customers in certain parts of each city, I really can't complain too much. I guess if Crazy Taxi 3 lacks anything, it's a multiplayer game. This is the type of sit-down-and-play experience you wish you could do with a couple of buddies. At least Crazy Taxi 4 has something to shoot for.
I look at Crazy Taxi 3 in much the same way I look at something like Barry White's Greatest Hits CD. Both are packed with value, teeming with the hits of yesteryear and have new features tucked in for bonus fun. A good game doesn't go bad, and in the case of CT3, the tracks from the previous two games play even better thanks to the crazy moves that weren't available before. The huge new Vegas level rocks, and when you factor in the San Fran and NYC tracks, CT3 is what CTi should have been in the first place. I expected a little more out of CT on Xbox visually, but for anyone who's missed the Crazy Taxi thrill ride before, this is the one to own.
As soon as I heard that same ol' Offspring song blaring through my TV speakers, I knew I was in for a deja vu experience. The arcade gameplay, the goofy characters--nearly everything here is classic Crazy Taxi. For Xbox owners who've never played CT, having almost all the levels and a bunch of challenging minigames on one disc is a sweetheart of a deal. A person could burn a lot of hours trying to beat the entire enchilada. Old fans should be satisfied with the additions, as well. The new Glitter Oasis city is just as deep as the others, and exploring the West Coast with the ability to jump (a feature not in the first edition) adds a whole new dimension to the game.