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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Sega

 

Developer

Hitmaker

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q3 2002

 

 

- Pretty faithful arcade translation
- Sharp, colorful graphics
- Lots of fun to be had in short spurts
- A three-in-one package make the ultimate Crazy Taxi experience

 

 

- Only fun in short spurts
- Too hard to perform CRAZY moves
- Repetitive tunes

 

 

Review: Crazy Taxi (Dreamcast)

Review: Totaled! (XBox)

Review: Project Gotham Racing 2 (Xbox)

 

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Crazy Taxi 3: Highroller

Score: 7.2 / 10

 

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Last time I played Crazy Taxi was in 1999 when it appeared in the arcades. It pulled more than a few dollars out of my pocket but I didn’t give it much thought afterward even when it and its sequel appeared on the Dreamcast (or when the series showed up on GameCube and PS2). Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller (CT3) is about as near an exact replica of the original arcade game with the addition of two other areas: Small Apple and Glitter Oasis. This is a blessing and a curse.

The Crazy Taxi series has always been about picking up customers and taking them from point A to point B, taking available shortcuts to complete the task before time runs out. Essentially, CT3 is an amalgam of the first two games (with some minor alterations) and capped with a new city to roam. In this way, it’s a little like Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2X, which contained the first two Tony Hawk games with updated graphics and few new skate parks. Unlike THPS2X, CT3 doesn’t seem to offer any

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graphical upgrades. It looks almost identical to its original 1999 incarnation. Call me crazy, but after three years a graphical overhaul might have been advisable. (And what about body damage?) But at least it’s consistent – the cartoony look fits and it moves smoothly almost without exception.

Probably CT3’s greatest asset is the choice to play under regular rules or in 3, 5 or 10-minute

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frames. The 10-minute mode isn’t quite as good as a full-fledged free-roam mode but it does allow more exploration of the environments than playing under the regular rules. Playing under the regular rules gets repetitive. You start to fall into a routine after a few run-throughs as you discover the most profitable fares. Some of this could have been avoided with three or four random starting points instead of one. This is during the regular play mode. Accessing the Replay menu and entering a Crazy Drivin' sub-menu allows starting from different points on each map, but why it's buried under the Replay mode makes me scratch my head.

Maybe I’m an isolated case, but I had problems with the control. More specifically, I had problems performing any CRAZY move with consistency. CRAZY moves include a burst of speed, turning sharply, etc. underlined by twin streaks of flame coming from the back wheels. Making effective use of the CRAZY moves is tough for a few reasons. There’s no practice or tutorial mode. It was only through trial and error (even after studying the manual) that I was able to perform any CRAZY moves. There’s also a fundamental flaw with the manual stating that buttons have to be pressed simultaneously to perform the moves when in actuality the button presses are a split second apart. This fact makes for some frustration when you can’t break fast enough at a delivery point – CRAZY stop! CRAZY stop! Damn you! – to get paid and get a few more seconds added to the clock. Performing CRAZY jumps/hops is a simple button press so why couldn’t the other CRAZY moves be executed in the same way? Say, hold down a modifier button and direction like SSX Tricky? All that being said, most of the CRAZY moves are for expert gamers and the basic controls are easy enough to grasp that anyone should be able to pick it up and play. (After all, CT3 has an arcade heritage and there aren’t many arcade games that have complicated controls or instructions.)

The music hurts my ears with its repetitive repetitiveness. Every Xbox game should be able to play music from the hard drive. I’ve got nothing personal against Offspring or Bad Religion but after hearing the same tune four or five times in ten minutes I turned down the music to barely a whisper. The sound effects and the constant comments from your various passengers are all well done especially when you have four passengers and you’re sailing off the top of a hill. There is one exception. The “narrator” is entirely annoying. Imagine a deep raspy voice aiming for falsetto saying, “CAAAAA-RAAAAAZZZY TAXI!” over and over. And his summary of your performance doesn’t change much either.

 

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As driving passengers to their destinations tends to grow a bit old there are a variety of CRAZY-X challenges. These can be quite challenging/frustrating – mostly because the more advanced ones require a firm handle on CRAZY moves. Some are just fun, especially one challenge that tasks you with delivering a customer while avoiding an onslaught of cars tossed at you by a tornado.

I haven’t mentioned anything about the three levels, but they are worth a review of their own. All three environments are huge, detailed, and full of color. A free-roam mode would have been nice since sometimes you just want to drive. But beyond ferrying people around – admittedly the whole point of the game – there’s not much to do. A few straight vehicle challenges for extra cash would have a good addition to the environments instead of separate in the challenges – nothing like Grand Theft Auto III’s vehicle play but maybe a race against three other cabbies or going through drive-thrus to collect a number of meals -- along the lines of Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions -- would have livened things considerably.

Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller had the opportunity to add new features to the Crazy Taxi mix but instead relied on the tried and true formula of the previous games. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable or that it’s a bad game – it is very easy to pick up and play for enjoyment in short spurts – it’s just average. If you want the definitive Crazy Taxi game, this is it. And if you missed the previous games it's a good look at what all the fuss was about. All others find another ride.

- Omni
(August 25, 2002)

 

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