• Crazy Taxi 2 Review - Sega Dreamcast

    One of the undoubted success stories on the Dreamcast was Crazy Taxi. Hitmaker took the simple concept of picking up and dropping off passengers against a strict time limit and in turn produced a game that was as much fun as it was addictive.

    Before long this game had earned itself a loyal following of Crazy Taxi devotees, whilst it was widely recognised as being a prime an example of what the Dreamcast can do so well with the right developers backing; that is to bring excellent pure-bred arcade games into the home with little in the way of compromise. Naturally, furthering this successful game was an opportunity far too good to miss, and now the second incarnation has arrived in the form of the predictably named Crazy Taxi 2.

    Those who have played the original will find themselves in very familiar territory with Crazy Taxi 2. You have a choice of options at the start; Around Apple and Small Apple are the first two and form the main part of the game. The Crazy Pyramid is a continuation of the Crazy Box mode in the previous game and consists of the usual selection of bizarre and increasingly difficult challenges, from jumping onto ever increasingly high platforms (more on jumping later) to a quick round of Crazy Golf with you as the putter. Completion of these challenges unlocks vehicles and other bonuses to be used in the game. Select a city and you are presented with a choice of four characters to choose from. The characters are nicely designed and can be quite amusing at times, there is punk-rocker Slash, Iceman, Cinnamon and Hot-D to choose from.

    After your selections have been made, its time to "Go and make some C-raazzzy Money!" Once again Sega have done a great job in rendering the cities which this time round is based loosely on New York. Bright, colourful graphics that are also crisp and appealing were a trademark of the original and have thankfully been carried over to the sequel. The streets are crowded with all sorts of pedestrians, whom always manage to dive out of the way just in time as you fly hurtling towards them. Stores are instantly recognisable; HMV and Burger King and the Hard Roc Café all make appearances. The roads are packed with traffic; busses, lorries and cars are everywhere. It is highly impressive how Sega have managed to construct such a detailed city with so much going on, and yet there is precious little slowdown to hamper the games fast and fluid motion. The soundtrack once again comes courtesy of Offspring, whilst in game sound effects are similar to Crazy Taxi's but this time round the passengers are far more talkative, particularly when you pick up a group at once.

    From then on its business as usual in terms of the gameplay. Belt around the city at ridiculous speeds then slamming on the brakes when you spot a potential customer, whose destination distance is determined by the colour of the circle around them. The introduction of multiple drop-offs adds to the sequel. If you spot a crowd of people surrounded by a blue circle that means that there will be more than one drop off point, and more money to be earned. The turbo's remain from the original, whack the car into reverse then back to gear and accelerate and you will propel the car to even greater speeds, yes, the original Dreamcast Joypad wrecker is back and be careful as the shoulder buttons really will get a work out with this game.

    You would be forgiven for thinking this is merely an extension of the first with very little in the way of new features, and to an extent you would be right as there is fundamentally little to differentiate the two in terms of gameplay. However, Sega have made one very important change, as your taxi is now able to jump, very high. Infact, timing this right can sometimes send you up to the top of buildings, with a little assistance, where you are free to shortcut the bustling roads below. Jumping is a simple case of pressing the "Y" button, perhaps too simple for this reviewers liking, as before long it becomes simply a case of jumping over the oncoming traffic rather than using your driving skills to manoeuvre your way through the city.

    It is this new feature that I feel is detrimental to the gameplay of Crazy Taxi, as it removes some of the intenseness there was in the first when frantically trying to dodge through traffic to reach your destination in time. Where once you would have been required to weave through traffic you are now simply able to jump over it which is fine at first but becomes an all too easy way out too often and requires far less skill to achieve. The cities are now even bigger, and you will be hard pushed to remember all of the roads and locations as you could in the first. The Pyramid challenges are generally up to standard, but you feel that Hitmaker were sometimes struggling to come up with new ideas for the sequel. You are unable to set the amount of time to play as you could in the original, which will disappoint those whom enjoyed the longer gaming experience.

    All said, Crazy Taxi 2 is still a worthwhile purchase for any Dreamcast owner who enjoyed the first. It is more of the same, with bigger cities and new characters to use and unlock, whilst the graphics have been improved as they are more fluid than the first, however pop-up is still very evident although it does little to effect the gameplay to any large degree. The crazy jump may appeal to some people, but personally I would rather have seen innovation I different areas as I feel it does not improve the gameplay, rather diminishes it.

    Crazy Taxi 2 encapsulates the feeling and the fun that was to be had out of the first, and as such is an above average title that will be enjoyed by and will not disappoint many people and is a worthwhile purchase for any Dreamcast owner who is a fan of the genre.

    A review by Marcus Jullion