Crazy Taxi 2 Hands-On

Sega showed a near final version of Crazy Taxi 2 at its Crazy Taxi Dreamcast Championships competition held in San Francisco on Saturday, and we were on hand to check it out.

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At its Crazy Taxi Dreamcast Championships competition held in San Francisco, Sega officially unveiled a playable version of the sequel to Hitmaker's arcade-styled taxi-driving simulator. Crazy Taxi 2 promises to have more of what made the first game so popular, coupled with plenty of new drivers, a new location, and a few extras.

The basic concept of Crazy Taxi 2 hasn't changed at all from the last game. You play as an edgy taxi driver who drives around in a convertible taxi collecting fares and driving like a madman. As the original game took place in a fictional city inspired by San Francisco, Crazy Taxi 2 takes place in a fictional city inspired by New York City. The gameplay really hasn't changed a bit. Your basic objective is to locate potential customers, stop within a marked radius of that customer, and then take that customer to a certain location within a time limit. You'll get a larger fare for driving especially crazy on your way to the drop-off point, and you'll even have a few special moves to help you rack up the points. In addition to the crazy boost and crazy-drift moves of the previous game, Crazy Taxi 2 boasts a crazy-hop move. The crazy hop simply launches your taxi into the air and lets you jump other cars, gaps, and rooftops. Like the first game, Crazy Taxi 2 has two different maps divided into two modes. The game also sports a new crazy-box mode that tests your crazy skills in a series of difficult tests.

Crazy Taxi 2 is a whole lot more difficult than the first game. Both of the city maps have very few cross streets, and both maps force you to take advantage of the crazy hop, in order to hop onto rooftops and cross over freeways to make your destinations on time. And because the maps feature plenty of long, windy roads and few crossover points, the directional arrow that points you in the way you want to drive is useless. The game really tests your skills as a veteran Crazy Taxi player, and you are encouraged to memorize the city map if you want to be able to play well. The crazy hop is a whole lot of fun to do, but doesn't exactly require any skill to pull off--it's simply assigned to a button press. The game does feature a new multiple-fare customer, which helps shake up the gameplay a little bit. Certain customers will be waiting in groups and will all want to go to different locations. When you pick up a group of customers, you're given one huge lump of time to deliver each customer to his or her destination. The game does feature four new drivers, each with their personalized taxicabs. The drivers are cool enough, but none of them really has the personality of BD Joe or Gus. The original drivers will be hidden in the game and can be unlocked by playing the crazy-box mode.

The graphics of Crazy Taxi 2 are not very different from the first game's graphics. The customer character models all look pretty similar to the ones that were in the first game, and the new drivers and cabs are about as detailed as those in the original game. The city itself looks pretty realistic, with modeled versions of real-life locations like FAO Schwartz and the Hard Rock Café. The maps are both pretty big, and there doesn't appear to be any slowdown at all. The pop-up that was pretty prevalent in the original mode appears to be completely gone in all of the maps in Crazy Taxi 2. While Sega claimed that the game would feature a harder, more edgy soundtrack than that of Crazy Taxi, the game appears to have a fairly similar rock soundtrack. We were able to recognize songs from both Crazy Taxi veteran Offspring and newcomer Methods of Mayhem. The sound effects themselves seem pretty consistent with those of the first game--the customers and the cabbie both banter back and forth during the ride, cars honk, and tires screech.

From what we've seen so far, Crazy Taxi 2 looks like it's just more of the same frenzied action that made the first game so popular. The innovations in design and gameplay that Sega was touting when it first announced the game don't really seem to have that much of an influence on the game at this point. Still, the game is at least a standard sequel to what was an excellent game. Crazy Taxi hits stores this July.

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