|Title||:||Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller|
|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
Racing games abound, and surprisingly few have a gimmick to make them stand out. Sega, innovator of genres for decades now, created the Crazy Taxi arcade game in response to that lack of creativity, yet exhibits some of that same staleness in Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller, for the Microsoft Xbox.
Crazy Taxi grants players a license to insanity behind the wheel of a yellow cab, ferrying patrons from one point to another. The quicker the trip, the higher the fare, so forsake the rules of the road and do what it takes to satisfy your customer!
CT3 provides more of the fun found in its predecessors. The innovations of CT2 are preserved, including the Crazy Hop (a jump button) and the ability to carry multiple passengers simultaneously. A level from each of the first two Crazy Taxis is joined by an all-new one, Glitter Oasis. This cityscape is based on Las Vegas, according CT3 its subtitle. Depicted at night, it shimmers and scintillates in the headlights of taxis and oncoming traffic, lights on the strip, and moonlight on a grand canyon. The layout has few situations that call for the Crazy Hop, which is fine by me; I've found the ability to launch one's vehicle into the air creates an uncomfortable number of exploratory possibilities, and separates the gameplay too much from actual taxiing.
One of the best features of the Crazy Taxi line is the training mode, which doubles as a series of mini-games. CT3's "Crazy X" comprises 25 games, challenging players to climb towers, leap chasms, and knock over bowling pins. These games are as fun as they are demanding.
Regardless of the game mode, players' vehicles are equipped with a variety of special maneuvers, easily executed with proper timing of the drive and reverse gears and gas and brake buttons. The Xbox controller's triggers simulate the experience of the original Crazy Taxi, but the Sega Dreamcast controller was never this uncomfortable. The inability to configure the position of the Crazy Hop button can create some very awkward moments. Steering itself is less dodgy in CT3 than previous Crazy Taxi incarnations, making the weaving in and out of traffic more pleasure than pain.
In transitioning from the Dreamcast to the Xbox, a noticeable improvement in graphic quality has occurred. Landscapes are now more detailed, eliminating previously flat, uniform colors. Special effects make it easier to tell when a Crazy maneuver has been successfully performed.
Like the levels, the soundtrack is a mix of new and old. Familiar tunes from music groups Offspring and Bad Religion complement new ones from Citizen Bird. These songs are likely to be well-known among even non-gamers, increasing the joy of racing to them.
With more levels, drivers, and songs, Crazy Taxi 3 is a more polished rendition of Crazy Taxi 2. The gameplay has not changed since that title, leaving this sequel to satisfy gamers looking for a Crazy Taxi improvement with little new material.
This article is copyright (c) 2002, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 12-Aug-02