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Hands-on preview: The new Crazy Taxi is actually pretty calm

Hayden Dingman | March 17, 2014
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.

The green arrow says to turn left. You press the left side of the screen. The green arrow says to turn right. You press the right side of the screen. How skilled are your thumbs at pressing the sides of a screen? Congratulations, you just won Crazy Taxi: City Rush.

It's so on-rails that if you go off a jump near a curve and there's a wall in front of your car that in any normal game you'd run into, the rails will literally turn your car in the air and guide you around the turn. It's baffling.

I need a siphon

Then there's the standard layer of free-to-play annoyance getting in the way of you playing the game. The game is not open like the original; you don't just drive around picking up fares at random. You select specific missions on a map, each of which is scripted with specific fares and locations.

Your car runs on "gas" of course — actually an energy meter that governs how many missions you can play each day. You can pay real-world money for more gas, of course. City Rush at least lets you play a separate mode even after your gas runs out, but you won't be able to progress in the campaign more until you've attained more energy.

Micro-transactions are primarily of the cosmetic variety. While most items can be attained with in-game currency (coins collected during missions), there are a number of premium items that can only be obtained with diamonds — the game's harder-to-earn currency. You can buy diamonds, or earn them through specific game actions such as popping off an achievement. On our preview builds we had a near-unlimited amount of currency, so I threw a UFO on the hood and painted the cab black just for kicks. If you want to play an elaborate game of Pimp My Cab, there's plenty to customize.

The game also has different scenarios to complete. For instance, you might play as a school quarterback and drive around picking up cheerleaders. Or there's the mode where you drive a tank and crush cars. While the scenarios are fun in theory, you're stuck with the same lackluster control scheme. They also have nothing to do with driving a taxi, though I digress. The rest of the time, you're just doing generic fare-based missions.

The game features four maps: Downtown, Uptown, Beach, and Hills. We only played the Downtown map, which looks basically like the classic Crazy Taxi map with cable cars, big hills, and the like.

If there's one redeeming feature, it's the soundtrack. The original Crazy Taxi's Offspring and Bad Religion soundtrack is up there with the Tony Hawk games in quality, and City Rush is no different. I don't know what bands are featured, but they recapture the same spirit as the original game. And if you just want to listen to more Offspring and Bad Religion? The game lets you use your own music library.

 

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