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Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller

Developer: HItmaker | Publisher: Sega
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 07/24/02 | Genre: Driving

Name of the game is to pick up customers fast, drop them off faster, and drive as crazy as you can. The first of the Crazy Taxis to come to the Xbox features new drivers and a new course through Vegas called Glitter Oasis. Both West Coast and Small Apple from the previous two Crazy Taxi games are here, and they have been expanded and graphically tweaked. Unfortunately that is where most of the new craziness ends. With old music tracks and repetitive mini-games, Sega’s Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller barely gets squealing its wheels before it lands a flat.

Graphically the new installment is better than its predecessors, but nothing that we haven’t seen on the Xbox or even pushes its hardware. Flames bursting out of the rear of the car on a quick dash, skid marks, and burning tires on a crazy turn are nicely done. Each driver sports a unique set of wheels and luckily receives no damage do to reckless driving. It’s like demolition derby... without the demolition. Your passengers, on the other hand, are very animated. Standing up, giving high fives, and pointing directions out as annoying backseat drivers do. Mimes, dancing girls, musicians, boxers, and body builders, just to name a few, will flag you down for a ride and run when your cab gets too close. Don’t worry you can’t kill them, but instead drive through them, which can be a good thing depending on how crazy you really are. Hitmaker handled this part nicely because too much realism would have destroyed what little enjoyment there is in this game. The new Glitter Oasis course is pretty and all lit up as you’d expect it to. Long roads can lead you to desert and canyons, while there are little roads that zip in and out of back alleys.

The screeching of brakes and the screaming of tires on pavement sounds like the real deal, and each driver has individual lingoes that can sometimes be heard over the roar of traffic. Sadly these comments, as well as the numerous smart remarks, shouts of joy, and harsh complaints of your passengers, are too muffled to be heard clearly. They go unnoticed--often lost in thrill of the ride and blaring music. If you played either of the earlier Taxi titles, you may have recognized the tracks that repeat in the background. Well that is because they are the same. Pulled right off the old titles, Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller’s songs get old real quick, but, as with other titles with the same problem, ripping a new soundtrack to your black box is rather easy.

Steering your taxi is simple. Having only two gears, gas, and brakes, you pick up passengers by stopping next to them and drop them off at their destination, which is lit up in neon lights. But this is Crazy Taxi, not Grandma’s Taxi, so, of course, you will need to pull crazy moves to make mad cash. This is where some challenge and a bit of frustration comes in. Executing crazy maneuvers generally takes some sort of combination between switching gears, pressing/releasing the gas, and turning the thumbstick a particular direction. Easy enough, but if not done quick enough or in perfect unison, your vehicle is sent in a spin off in the wrong direction, losing you time and money. But successfully doing a crazy move gets you to your goal quicker and earns you tips from your customers, as does driving up the wrong way. Missing cars earns you combos, which translates to higher tips, but hit one and you start all over. Crazy Dash, Crazy Hop, and Crazy Stop are essential skills necessary to get rich quick. More complex moves such as Drift Hop, Crazy Back Drift, and Drift Cancel are cool and earn you big tips from your riders, but serve little purpose to getting you from point A to point B.

Choosing your driver is personal preference. Sega seemed satisfied to not add any new gameplay options to this title. Each driver has a short bio about themselves and unique cars, but neither has any effect on the driver’s performance. With most titles of this type of game featuring drivers with various strengths and weaknesses, Crazy Taxi: High Roller is content to offer nothing in this area.

Getting your passenger(s) to his or her destination as fast as possible obviously earns you money. Each customer is marked with a huge money sign over themselves, and the signs change color depending on how far they want to go. There are a couple ways to approach this: the farther the distance, the more money, but you also use up a lot of valuable time and miss on other paying customers. Another option is single or multiple passengers. Again, multiple passengers mean more money, but they require more driving and more time. Either way, you’ve gotta do it before times runs out. An arrow guides you to your destination and the clock, clearly displayed directly above your vehicle, let’s you know how much time you have to get there. Note: follow the arrow and do not listen to the customers. In this case the customer is not always right, for they often are often confused, pointing to the left when you are supposed to go right.

There are basically three modes to play each course. The first is normal mode, which is simply a timed event, giving you a certain amount of time based on difficulty to make as much cash as possible. The faster you drop passengers off, the better ranking you get. “Speedyâ€? gives a +5 second times bonus; “Normalâ€? a +2, and, for some odd reason, there is no penalty for not getting your client to their destination on time. Instead, they just jump out of your speeding vehicle--kinda stupid really. You can also work for 3, 5, or 10 minutes, which stops the game when time runs out. If you get tired of your normal taxi job, Sega gives you a bunch of mini-games to play. However, they are all the same and get very repetitive, centering on drop this off, hit this, and get here before time runs out. Though there really isn’t much you can do being stuck in a big yellow vehicle, the mini-games are lack luster to say the least.

Replaying this game is more of chore than joy. Featuring a nice competitive 2 Player mode with races or something would have gone a long way to add replayability to Crazy Taxi: High Roller, for trying to beat records set in the mini-games or achieve a higher license only lasts so long. Without any real unlockable features and nothing to add variety in gameplay by choosing different drives/cars, once you’ve taxied each course, its time to hang up the fuzzy dice.

Overall, the courses are bigger and prettier, but they’re still the same tracks. Glitter Oasis can’t carry Sega’s new installment that far. Repetitive music and mumbling voices make it hard to listen to the game. A stingy stunt system and disappointing mini-games just continue to drag this game further down. If you’re a fan of the Crazy Taxi series, this game offers nothing new, which may be the bright side of the game. But if you’re new to the idea just rent the game for a couple days then go back to your real job.

By Peter Humpton - 07/29/02
ESRB Details: No Descriptors
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Screenshots for Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller

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