STAFF REVIEW of Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller (Xbox)

Wednesday, September 25, 2002.
by Stephen Cameron

Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller Box art Most people will say that gaming isn't exactly a contact sport, but I can tell you from experience that, if you get too carried away, your body will pay the price. Be it from a lack of sleep, leaning into a big turn in your favourite racer and falling out of your chair, getting in a fist fight over the last free controller, or refusing to stop in the middle of a 4/4 tie in a best of 5 match of Halo for the violent thunderstorm outside your bedroom window, there's more than one way to put the hurt on yourself via video gaming. I've experienced all of the above at least once, but my personal favourite and perhaps the most common video gaming injury, would have to be a malady induced by severe button-bashing, the blister. Ah yes, chronic gamer's thumb. Before Crazy Taxi 3, I can't remember the last time I played a game 'till my thumbs hurt. After Crazy Taxi 3, however, I was hard-pressed to ever recall a time where my entire hand hurt. Moreover, I am quite certain I can't recall a time where I was in that much pain and decided that just "one more game" couldn't make things any worse... And the thing is, severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and a touch of Gamer's Arthritis aside, I couldn't have called this one any clearer from a gameplay standpoint if I had a crystal ball. Crazy Taxi 3 was born for your Xbox, and if you have one ounce of gaming appreciation in your bodies, you'll skip the rest of this rant and go directly to your nearest retailer and pick it up. On the other hand, if you're a sceptic who's had the misfortune of being influenced by various reports that would be so naive as to label the game "simple" and "repetitive," allow me a few quick moments to open up your mind to the gaming brilliance that is Crazy Taxi 3. Choose you driver, hop in your convertible cab and hit the road. Engine roaring; tear through the hills of fictitious cities while dodging traffic, cable cars, people and time. Power slide through turns, jump off cliffs and out of parking garages, and test the limits of your reflexes to become the ultimate Crazy Cabbie. Oh yes, this game will try the limits of both you nerve and gaming ability. Put simply, Crazy taxi is quite possibly the most deceptively complex title I have ever played from a gameplay standpoint. As you progress through the game's ratings scale by picking up and delivering passengers as quickly as possible, you will slowly but surely realize that there is much, much more to the game than delivering your fare from point A to B.

Sega's Crazy Taxi was a runaway hit when it premiered on the Dreamcast so many years ago, and in my opinion It?s still going strong especially on the all mighty Xbox. The control scheme in CT has managed to create an innovative system not unlike the best console fighters in that it is both demanding and dynamic enough to make every single gaming experience one that will both challenge and reward you in ways that will quickly remind you why video games are so much fun. Some of the crazy moves you can bust out on the street are pretty innovative themselves such as the crazy dash, crazy hop, crazy drift. In the main menu you have the choice of picking out of a few modes. The normal mode will allow you to take to the streets of one of the three cities ( West Coast, Small Apple and Glitter Oasis) and pick up and safely deliver fares while busting crazy maneuvers will give you more crazy money. A time limit is the biggest nemesis -- it constantly counts down and the primary way to extend it is to successfully drop off patrons, so the speedier the driving the better the outcome. But there is also different modes you can start a shift with a certain fix amount of time. There is also a Crazy X mode were you can find plenty of mini-games for example there is bowling, baseball, football just to name a few. Each mini-games will help you to execute your crazy tricks to a greater degree. Also the more mini-games you complete you will unlock some special feature some of which are very helpful. It's all very familiar to the old Crazy Taxi owners.

Sparks fly, phone booths crumble, pedestrians dive out of the way, cars flip. You'll see it all in Crazy Taxi and thanks to the game's amazing visuals, all will want to see it, as well. I can't recall the last time a game has drawn in this many on-lookers, much less the last time this many non-gamers simply had to put down their work and give it a go. Everyone from Accounting to the fun-deprived Power Students had a sit-down with this game, and the mass of addicts often exceeded 10 or more eager gamers. If you're looking for a show-pony for your Xbox, this is an unquestionably good choice. More importantly, if you're looking for a game that packs an almost infinite supply of replay ability, Crazy Taxi knows how to deliver. Though many were concerned that an arcade title such as this would have trouble when making the transition to the big green Xbox , Taxi comes through in a major way. As I said earlier, the mini-games are awesome. The fact that you have to be one hell of a driver to get to the top of the "money list" on either course will easily keep you busy for a good 30-40 hours. Not to mention that beating your records in CT is the most competitive single-player experience ever. It's just the type of game you can set down for a few days and instantly come back and be as into it as you were the first time you got that S-license. Aside from the spotless control and awesome visuals, the presentation in Crazy Taxi is quite cool. The level design is absolutely spectacular, all three maps will floor you with their level of detail and ingenuity.

The soundtrack has managed to make its way home from the arcades intact, and nothing seems more fitting than the tunes of The Offspring while you're practicing a little road rage. The sound is also top notch, with a bunch of voice samples. Though with this type of game, you'll hear a lot of the same stuff, the samples don't get old easily and I?m still hearing new ones. My favorites right now are the priest who tells you "you're one hell of a driver" and the valley girl who says you're "hella fast. Cracks me up! Passengers will comment on your skills, and if you're too out of control, they will whine and complain. It is pretty funny, and certainly helps to keep you focused. Overall, the audio package is one of the best for an arcade driving game I've ever seen.

I can't stress enough how addictive this game is. For such a simple concept, we're shocked that after 20 hours plus I still can't get enough. My hat goes off to the Sega team.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10


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