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Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Empire Interactive
developer: Strangelite
genre: Racing

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
PIII 1000, 256MB RAM, 32MB Video Card, 500MB HD
ESRB rating: T
homepage:
www.empireinteractive.co.uk

release date: Jan 16, 04
» All About Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller on ActionTrip


Strangelite and Empire interactive have recently issued a latest installment of Crazy Taxi, continuing the simple gameplay recipe of the well-known arcade racing series. The object of the game is to drive around in a wacky-looking taxi cab, always keeping your eyes peeled for potential customers. The first incarnation of this popular arcade racer was unleashed by Sega back in 1999, and was subsequently released on the Dreamcast, eventually heading to other next-generation platforms. After Crazy Taxi 2 arrived on the scene, it brought some welcomed innovations over the original. This time we take Crazy Taxi 3 for a spin in the hope of experiencing even more gameplay improvements.

Like in any other arcade racer, the rules are clear-cut. Here, your objective is to earn a fast buck and make sure each client arrives promptly to his/her destination. At the beginning, inexperienced players might feel a bit confused and disoriented, so it's advisable to go for a few test runs just to get the hang of it. By the way, the absence of a tutorial or practice run is one of the game's first noticeable disadvantages. Mini games, on the other hand, could be a good way to practice before you hit the streets. In any case, in due course, you'll be able to master the ways of the cabbie. Basically, Crazi Taxi 3 was designed to ensure an arcadish feel, which is unwaveringly present throughout the entire game. In addition, controls are well-balanced and intuitive for all vehicles. Essentially, the game is all about driving around large urban districts and avoiding dense traffic. Disappointingly, it really doesn't go anywhere beyond that. The gameplay is action-packed and fast-paced, but that doesn't appear to leave very much room for any additional features and challenges; for instance, a wider range of objectives or missions to complete would have spiced things up a wee bit.

The game's fundamentals stay true to the previous games in the series. Your cab is equipped with a special boost, to gain leverage during jumps, drifts, etc. Earning money is the central point of the gameplay. Once a customer enters your vehicle, you'll be free to use any means necessary in order to reach a particular location on time. The basic idea is to make it a fun ride, so your fair would tip the cabdriver. Hazardous driving through crowded streets is the best way to earn extra money. Customers will be cheering as your cab flies into the air or rushes straight between two oncoming vehicles. The most important thing in the game, besides picking up passengers on the street, is beating the clock in order to gain extra seconds. Taking shortcuts is usually the best way to do this. As you ride through the city districts at high speed, you'll be running into plenty of obstacles that can slow you down; from lampposts, mailboxes, monuments, etc. Also, the sidewalks are crawling with people that go about their daily business. Unlike GTA: Vice City, Crazy Taxi 3 does away with blood and gore. No matter how hard you try, pedestrians simply won't allow themselves to be flattened by your cab; which kinda seems funny, when you notice grandpa Jo leaping sideways like a Ninja in order to avoid being hit by your cab.

Those unfamiliar with Crazy Taxi, should be drawn into the gameplay easily the first time around. Three sizeable tracks are included in the game, along with a variety of characters and taxi cabs, each with their individual appearances and driving styles. The disappointing aspect of this game, however, is that it brings very little improvement in terms of gameplay and content. Players will only find four new characters, a handful of new mini games, and only one additional track, called Glitter Oasis - a flashy city district, closely resembling the streets of Las Vegas. Gamers well experienced with the series are sure to be disheartened by such a measly choice of innovations. Plus, a track called West Coast has been present all through the series, so it sure as hell wasn't fun playing it again (well, not for me anyway). I was also kind of hoping that they'd come up with some sort of multiplayer mode. The game just seems to have potential for some serious car-wrecking MP madness. Regrettably, there is no multiplayer, and that downgrades the game's replayability even further. I have to admit though, the mini games were really fun, but they only managed to hold my attention for an hour or so. For some strange reason the developers were hesitant to put extra effort into overall improvement. Which is the main reason why Crazy Taxi 3 often feels like you're playing an expansion pack, rather than a full-blown sequel.

Driving through the cities lead to a few frustrating experiences. For one, the game still lacks a map (or some kind of radar screen at least), which could help you find your way around. Huge arrows are always there to indicate where you're supposed to go, but in all honestly, you're gonna want to have a clearer picture of the region in order to take shortcuts and stuff. The omission of a map was always an ongoing predicament in all Crazy Taxi games. Next to that, I was frequently bugged by the fact that players can easily fall off the track... literarily. Some areas were designed quite badly. In Glitter Oasis, for instance, if you happen to fall down from a cliff or an overpass, there's virtually no chance of making it on time, and that usually spells the end of the game.

When it comes to graphics, the developers have decided to maintain the flashy and colorful design, unremittingly associated with the previous titles in the series. The new track, Glitter Oasis, features an impressive variety of buildings, parks, fountains, shopping centers, hotels, nightclubs, boulevards, avenues, and so on. Everywhere you look, streets are crammed with enormous gleaming neons and street-light, which help create a glitzy nighttime atmosphere. The physics engine appears to do its job quite well for an arcade racer. I have to say, it's still somewhat disappointing to witness a racing game without any visible car damage and a bit more destructive ambiance, if you know what I mean. Not that I'm one for condoning unnecessary violence. For instance, in Vice City you could run over and shoot anything you wanted - if you fire directly in someone's face, their head would burst away in a fountain of blood. Sometimes though, even the slightest bit of brutality might help improve the overall experience somewhat, which is definitely not the case in Crazy Taxi 3.

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ACTIONTRIP SCORE
4.9   Tolerable


HIGHS
Easy to get into, a variety of wacky mini-games, colorful and vibrant surroundings;

LOWS
Needs more depth and innovation, soon becomes tedious, low replay value.

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