The first game to make the crossover from Sega's development houses to a non-Sega hardware has finally arrived in our office. Acclaim's port of Sega's popular arcade racer promises to offer everything that made Crazy Taxi so appealing on the Dreamcast. We strapped in and took the game for a test drive to see how it fares.
The PS2 version of Crazy Taxi is almost an exact port of the Dreamcast version. Crazy Taxi on the PS2 has all the modes that the Dreamcast version of the game had but no new modes. The game is split into two different cities--the city from the arcade game and the original city designed for the Dreamcast version of the game. In either city you can choose to either play by arcade rules or simply play against a predetermined amount of time. The game also has the crazy-box mode, which is a set of 12 different courses designed to test your Crazy Taxi skills. The game has the same four drivers as the Dreamcast version, and each driver is represented exactly as they were on Sega's machine. Crazy Taxi on the PS2 hasn't changed much from the Dreamcast version--all of the locations and customers are exactly as they were on the Dreamcast version.
The gameplay is pretty simple: You stop your taxi within a customer's circular radius to pick him or her up, then you jam to the customer's desired destination and stop your taxi again within a larger area to collect your fare. Since you're a crazy taxi, you actually get bonuses for driving erratically--driving close to other cars, jumping in the air, and even throwing your car into a full-out skid is rewarded with an extra tip to your fare. Additionally, you're timed to your destination and rewarded with extra time depending on how quickly you can get the customers to where they want to go. Your taxi has two gears: forward and reverse, and careful manipulation of these gears in sync with the accelerator will let you achieve all sorts of nearly impossible stunts. Mastering the crazy boost and the crazy slide are essential to racking up the customers, and these techniques can be honed in the game's crazy-box mode.
This version of Crazy Taxi looks much better than most of the screens released for the game thus far. The graphics are all fairly nice, with the exception of some of the game's loading and menu screens that seem to shake unnaturally. The animations and frame rate are all spot-on with the Dreamcast version, and the PS2 version seems just as fast and as hectic as its predecessor. Some of the textures don't look as nice as they did on the Dreamcast, and some of the edges do suffer from the now trademarked jagged edges of the PS2, but the game still looks very nice. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a little problem with pop-up, and some of the backgrounds would even disappear occasionally. Hopefully this is just a bug in the sample build we received and will be missing from the final version of the game. The audio of this version is pretty much the same as that of the Dreamcast. The soundtrack is exactly the same and so are almost all of the sound effects.
While Crazy Taxi is a near-perfect port of the Dreamcast version, it's a little disappointing that Acclaim didn't take the opportunity to add in a few PS2 exclusive features. Still, it does appear that most of the codes that worked on the Dreamcast version work on the PS2 version, and while we couldn't play as the rickshaw, the game did acknowledge that we entered the code correctly.
PS2 owners who missed Sega's great arcade game on the Dreamcast should definitely look into this version. While the game doesn't offer much to Dreamcast owners who have been enjoying the game for more than a year now, the game is at least solid proof that Sega's games can work on other consoles. Crazy Taxi arrives in stores on May 2.