Preview: Crazy Taxi 3... sorta'

August 11, 2002 10:15 PM PST


So, there I was, opening up my email when I received this ad from the SEGA newsletter...

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested in grabbing a copy. However, like everything else coming out, the market slapped a $50.00 price tag on its cover. That's quite a lot considering what is being offered. You see, I already have Crazy Taxi and Crazy Taxi II. I love them, sure, but they came with two unique and large maps to go with them. The game was a little more fresh back then, too. This new title only comes with one that's new and two previous maps. My solution? Er, well...

I bought the demo.

Anyway, for those who haven't played it, the Crazy Taxi series allows you to pick one out of four drivers and pick up people from the street and drive them to their destination. The longer the distance, the higher the risk. You'll get paid more if you make it, though, and pulling off a few stunts will add to your pay. That's good because making as much money as possible within the time limit is the goal of the game. Normally, you get a choice by choosing arcade rules or setting a three, five, or ten-minute game. Since this is the demo we're talking about, however, three minutes is your only selection. Nevertheless, I don't feel like I'm missing anything.

Like I said, there is only one new map in the game, and it's featured in the demo. The full version also has the original Crazy Taxi Arcade map renamed West Coast and the Small Apple map from Crazy Taxi II. They've been retouched, especially West Coast since you can now use the 'Crazy Hop' jumping feature that was featured in the second game, but nothing drastically has been improved. Not even the graphics, the drivers and passengers still have the polycount found on the Dreamcast games, and the maps have roughly the same texture quality.

The new map, Glitter Oasis, is rather interesting, though. It's a shrunken down pseudo-version of the U.S. Southwest with features that liken to the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, and, of course, Las Vegas. Their impression of that city is almost right on the money, too, with its enormous and gaudy hotels, escalator pedestrian bridges that cross over multilane highways, and bright lights everywhere. That's Las Vegas for you, a spectacular parody of a city.

However, the city part is relatively small compared to the entire map. It also suffers from slowdown in that area in both the full version and the demo, which is pretty perplexing. Most of the course, however, features long stretches of the mountain desert leading to remote places. It also has the greatest amount of height difference, as well, and flying off the edge could cost you the game or shave off a couple of seconds. The passengers reflect that, too, as most of them are all marked with the green $ symbol which means that they are long distance fares.

The music included are two tracks that sound like a combination of rock and honky tonk. It's enjoyable, but in true Crazy Taxi form, it gets repetitive quickly. What is welcome is that amount of random dialogue spewed throughout the game. Passengers praise or complain based on your performance, and the drivers return in kind. Normally, it descends into a bunch of insults and retorts, but it wouldn't be the same without the verbal abuse.

This new map also comes with new drivers. Angel, a teen without a shirt but with a lot of rouge in his hair, is pretty forgettable. Second in line, Bixbite is a black dude with leftover 70's gear. They are nasty looking clothes at that, but he gets a few points for his obsession with speed. The final two are my favorites, however. Mrs. Venus is a very heavyset black lady with pink glowing hair, a yellowish jumpsuit, and rarin' to go. Last, but not least, is Zax. He's... a little short tempered but is credited with rigging the suspension of the cabs for the 'Crazy Hop'. He also looks a lot like Albert Wesker from Resident Evil, except hairier and on steroids. Not a bad cast, matching up well to the first game and beating the second's cast hands down.

It ain't worth $50.00 bucks, though. The only thing else the game offers is the incredibly hard challenge section to unlock some extras. It's called the Crazy X, this time, but it's something that someone who owns the previous two has seen before, more or less. Still, I wanted to play Crazy Taxi 3 in some shape or form, so I slapped about $10.00 at the local Barnes & Noble and purchased the latest X-Box Official Magazine. It also has demos of Hunter: The Reckoning, Outlaw Golf, $treet Hoops, and a re-release of the Dead or Alive 3 expansion pack in case you're wondering.

Maybe it's wrong to be encouraging you to run out and buy the demo, instead. But, hey, I did get my money's worth and the price will probably go down later if I wait things out. Besides, maybe SEGA will forgive me when I buy Panzer Dragoon Orta.

Donald Alfieri

 

Developer
Hitmaker

Publisher
Sega

Release Date
July 23, 2002