Crazy Taxi: unless your religion forbids looking at taxis or you’ve been living in a cave, then you are familiar with the basics. You play a crazy taxi driver looking to make some crazy cash by driving some crazy customers around. Crazy. Anyway, Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller is here and it’s an Xbox exclusive. Is it a successful sequel that uses the Xbox’s hardware to its fullest potential, or a cheap sequel to a successful franchise? Let’s take a look.
The gameplay in Crazy Taxi 3 is not terribly complicated. The player drives around a taxi with extremely unreal physics on a quest to make some crazy cash. The taxi is suited with special abilities, including the Crazy Dash, the Crazy Drift, and the Crazy Jump. Performing these abilities requires quick button tapping, and it is important to master these skills and use them often. The end result is some serious button tapping mayhem.
Mastering the controls is one aspect of success; memorizing the cities is the other. The cities in Crazy Taxi 3 were built with your taxi in mind. Thus, they are filled with shortcuts and alternate routes to popular drop-off points. Knowing these shortcuts, as well as the cities in general, is absolutely imperative to success. A skilled player should be able to generally ignore the guidance arrow as they drop customers off around the cities. However, one of the charms of Crazy Taxi is the ability to pick it up and have lots of fun with little or no skill. So, don’t get the impression that you need some serious skills to have fun with Crazy Taxi.
As for the cities in High Roller, I have to say I am very disappointed. First of all, there are three cities. One is a new city, the others are ported from the original Crazy Taxi (West Coast) and Crazy Taxi 2 (Small Apple). West Coast has quite a bit added to it, in order to accommodate for the crazy hop and multiple pickups. Small Apple, however, hasn’t received such a large facelift. The new city, Glitter Oasis, doesn’t even compare to the first cities. It is largely built around the canyon and the desert, which are the two locations that the vast majority of your customers want a ride to. Although it is based on Vegas, it lacks a certain flare. You will want to spend most of your time in West Coast.
One thing about the multiple customer pickups has to be mentioned. While it was a nice addition, it would have been nice if Crazy Taxi 3 expanded it to be able to pick up customers while still driving a customer around. As it stands, you have to pick multiple like-minded customers up at the same time. This is just another example of how High Roller feels like it could have been dramatically improved, but instead we are left with a lazy port.
Another example of where the game could have been improved is the graphics. Sadly, the Xbox hardware is much unused, as the visuals looks as though they could easily be running on a Dreamcast; jaggies are everywhere, especially in progressive scan. One thing that looks very nice, however, is the lights. Aptly named, Glitter Oasis shines with some extraordinarily beautiful lighting. Though this hardly makes up for the lackluster graphics.
Sounds are the standard fare. Not much has been added, but not much needed to be either. Cars screech and crash, customers yell and curse at you. The music is the same as always. Bad Religion, The Offspring, and Citizen Bird make up the soundtrack this time around. Disappointingly, there are only 9 tracks; 3 from each band. I feel this is truly a shame, as the music gets old very fast.
Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller isn’t anything special. It largely feels like an expansion pack to Crazy Taxi 2. No new gameplay features have been added, and the new city is pale in comparison to the others. The biggest draw is the newly designed West Coast. My recommendation is to save yourself $40 and pick up Crazy Taxi 2 for the Sega Dreamcast.