Lightning in a bottle
Looking back over the decades of gaming there are always those few standout titles that just exceed all expectations and help define a generation, a console or even a genre, Crazy Taxi is one such. Back in 1999, SEGA released an arcade score attack title where you have to race around a city in a taxi picking up and dropping off as many customers as you could before the time runs out. The key to success was learning shortcuts and earning time bonuses, the title was so popular that it was soon ported to the Dreamcast and became the must-have title for the system.
Over the years there have been several sequels in various forms and even some valid pretenders, this reviewer spent many an evening playing Simpsons: Road Rage while listening to Iowa at obscene volumes, but nothing has ever managed to capture the instant magic and fun of the original. Team6 are here to see if they can provide gamers both old and young with a return to the much-loved formula with Taxi Chaos, let’s see how they got on.
Stop grinning, we didn’t mean it like that! Taxi Chaos is a straight-up spiritual successor to Crazy Taxi and for anyone who spent any time with the original back in the day, you are going to feel right at home. Choose between two characters before entering a “New York” themed city to drive like a lunatic in the name of earning as much money as you can. You start off with one Taxi but as you earn points and cash you will unlock a variety of vehicles each with its own stats to suit your driving style.
Passengers are plentiful in the big city and easy to find thanks to a bright ring of light that surrounds them, simply pull up within this ring and the passengers will hop in. Routes are generally easy to follow as on the bottom left you will have the name and a picture of the location you need to get to as well as the distance remaining. On the top centre of the screen will be an arrow that will point you in the right direction and will change from red, amber and green to indicate that you are getting close to your destination.
Your Taxi also comes equipped with a boost option, by holing down the triggers you can build up the boost energy to give yourself a quick start, this is worth mastering while picking up passengers. You also have a jump ability so if you find yourself facing an oncoming vehicle or see a fence that you just don’t fancy driving around, by all means, jump over it. Stringing together these techniques will earn combo’s that increase your overall score and help shave a few seconds off each run which is especially handy as not only do you have an overall time limit but each passenger will want to reach their destination within a set amount of time, the sooner you drop them off, the more money you earn and the sooner you can pick someone else up.
Check the mirror
It may be difficult for anyone who has played Crazy Taxi to look at Taxi Chaos and not just see a clone reflected back at them, after all, the similarities are striking. Much like every sandbox game gets compared to GTA almost to the point that their unique elements get overlooked. For example, Taxi Chaos not only introduces the aforementioned jumping ability but also special customers that when picked up, begin a storyline that can be advanced as time goes on. It’s a minor addition but a welcomed one and shows that Team6 wanted to put their own mark on the formula and for the most part it works, Taxi Chaos feels familiar but fresh and having an old school point chaser hitting the stores in a time where everything seems to be long-winded, open-world affairs is right on the money.
The Arcade Mode alone is enough to keep most people happy but for the more hardcore among you, there are additional modes. First of all, there is Free Roam, chances are through repetition you will get used to the layout of the city and know where the key locations are but if you want to become more familiar, you can enter Free Roam which allows you to drive around the city at your own pace and get a feel for the layout and practice with newly unlocked vehicles, then if you want to really push yourself, step into Pro Mode. Pro Mode is similar to Arcade but takes away the assists like the arrow indicator leaving you to take customers to their destination almost blindly except for the picture indicating where they want to go. Though no multiplayer mode is present, there are leaderboards if you wish to benchmark yourself against friends or other players around the world.
Under the hood
We have talked about the key features of gameplay but now the most important question, how does it all perform? Out the gate, the gameplay is good, very arcadey as you’d expect with the bright and cartoonish animations complimenting the almost slapstick control of the vehicles. We did find that the breaking was a bit wonky and took some getting used to, we would often lose a chunk of time trying to stop within the customer’s designated vicinity and slowly have to reverse. The scoring and timing felt a bit off-balanced too which took some of the fun out, no matter how well we drove the additional time earning felt too minimal to really establish a decent run.
The music too was a bit flat, yes it was good enough to accompany the experience but for a title that is so vibrant and stylish is just lacked any oomph. Passenger voice-overs also became an issue, the voice acting itself was of good quality and the humour was genuinely entertaining, the first twenty times we heard it. Sadly, the dialogue is extremely repetitious and we heard the same lines over and over the point where we debating turning the voice-over volume off.
Now we would like to point out that Team6 has launched a day one patch to address some issues and mentioned they are adding some new features so take our experience as one solely based on pre-launch quality, we will of course update you once we have had some hands-on with the updates.
Taxi Chaos is a fun title but one that currently packs very little punch over time. We look forward to seeing what Team6 bring to the experience as there is definitely lots of potential for this to be a hit if they can iron out a few creases.
Review code provided
Format: Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Genre: Arcade, Racing
Developer: Team6 Game Studios
Publisher: Lion Castle Entertainment
Download link: US eshop / UK eshop