The email came in from Sega's PR agent — "I can tell you that the title in question is the next sequel in the Crazy Taxi series." My heart soared. "All I Want" by The Offspring started reverberating through my head. My palms sweated.
And then the next line. "This will be the first brand new Crazy Taxi game built for mobile from the ground up." Sigh.
So yeah, Crazy Taxi: City Rush, the next great entry in the iconic Crazy Taxi series, is a mobile-only game. And the preview build I've played wasn't exactly thrilling.
It's certainly passable, as far as mobile games go. But if you're looking at this title just because it says Crazy Taxi in the name? Only sadness lies down that path. Micro-transactions? Check. Energy meter? Check. Simplistic control scheme with very little depth or skill involved? Check.
Let's start with that last point. As far as game titles go, Crazy Taxi is pretty descriptive — you drive a taxi...crazily. The streets of pseudo-San Francisco are merely "suggested" routes, as you steer your cab across parks, down sidewalks, and off the backs of those trucks that always look like ramps in search of fares.
When you first boot up City Rush, it immediately evokes that nostalgia. The game certainly looks like Crazy Taxi — bright colors, cartoonish art style, a neon green arrow directing you to your next stop. That's where similarities end.
They've taken the crazy out of Crazy Taxi. You have a very limited selection of controls here. Upon starting a level, your taxi immediately accelerates. It will continue accelerating until it hits full speed — you have no control over your velocity. No gas pedal to press. No accessible brake pedal either. It doesn't matter, because your car is on rails.
On a series of rails, really. The car is tethered to the road, each lane its own rail. Swiping left or right to switches lanes. You press down on the left or right side of the screen to turn onto cross streets. Swiping top to bottom causes the car to do a physics-defying U-turn in place.
When you come upon a fare, a brake pedal icon pops up in the middle of the screen. You tap it over and over to stop. Tap faster and you gain a bonus.
This is the extent of your controls. Sega can talk all it wants about the "frenetic driving" in this game — it plays like somebody slapped some Crazy Taxi textures on top of Temple Run. Except instead of an endless runner where you start over again if you mess up, Crazy Taxi is a timer-based game that's basically impossible to lose.
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