Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller Showcase: Small Apple

Sega gives the east coast a make over in the third installment of the series.

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In our third look at the latest installment of the Crazy Taxi series, we'll be focusing on the Small Apple, the East Coast-inspired city seen in Crazy Taxi 2, and more of the minigames offered in the Crazy X mode. Much like the West Coast city level and minigames we covered in last week's look at the game, this level and its games have undergone some graphical tweaking to take advantage of the Xbox hardware. In addition, the Small Apple has undergone some gameplay tightening, which appears to have made the level's feel better than that of its previous incarnation on the Dreamcast. From what we've seen so far, the graphical and gameplay tweaks look to make Crazy Taxi 3 the best entry in the series to date.

Iceman's had some work done.
Iceman's had some work done.

If you played Crazy Taxi 2, you'll notice the graphical tweaks on the character-selection screen, just like those found in the West Coast's. On an aesthetic note, characters now stand to the right of the cabs, as opposed to the left, as in the Dreamcast version of Crazy Taxi2, which gives the game a uniform presentation. The character models for Slash, Iceman, Cinnamon, and Hot-D have all been freshened up and now sport a higher poly count and improved shading. As with the original set of cabbies, the upgrade doesn't make a dramatic difference but helps freshen the game's look a bit for the Xbox version. The city itself, on the other hand, is in fact quite different from the one in the Dreamcast incarnation of the game. In addition to some geographical tweaks, which lessen the chances of being stuck in a dead end or trapped next to an overpass and offer some new places to visit in the city, the Small Apple offers some significant upgrades to its DC counterpart's graphics. You'll find the same batch of improvements seen in the West Coast level, like subtle reflective effects, seen on the chrome bumper, cab body, and windshield of the car. However, the Small Apple features a wider array of graphical improvements. The level is now set at night and has quite a bit in common with the lighting found in Glitter Oasis. Lights can be seen coming from the inside of most buildings, and all the cars in the city have their headlights on. You'll also notice a blurring effect on the various light sources as you go about your business. While the level isn't as flashy as the one in the Las Vegas-inspired Glitter Oasis, it certainly looks much better than the DC version's.

The Small Apple is definitely a city that never sleeps.
The Small Apple is definitely a city that never sleeps.

In terms of gameplay, the Small Apple feels a bit tighter. Crazy Taxi 2 introduced some new elements to the classic Crazy Taxi gameplay, such as the ability to jump with your taxi and the multipart fares. While the new additions added quite a bit to the game, their implementation felt a bit unbalanced. Crazy Taxi 3 smooths over the rough edges, like the multipart fares, and ends up feeling more pulled together in general. As in the other levels, you'll find that the crazy dash and use of shortcuts are pretty essential to achieving the mighty S ranking when you play.

Minigames

Finally, we checked out a few more of the minigames in the Crazy X mode. It seems that developer Hitmaker may have actually gotten a bit of outside help with its latest collection of minigames. While we can't be 100 percent sure, we'd say that it's a safe bet that Satan had some involvement in helping the team craft what's shaping up to be a very challenging and addictive collection of games. As you unlock a new tier of games, expect the level of challenge to take some pretty heady leaps upward. Fortunately, the games are quite a bit of fun. We checked out crazy ball, crazy hopper, crazy rise, crazy rush, and crazy plates.

Crazy rise offers mix of fun and stress.
Crazy rise offers mix of fun and stress.

Crazy Ball
This game is set in the center of a large room surrounded by an audience. You're charged with hitting an enormous disco ball, which is suspended in the center of the room, a set number of times before the clock runs out. Well-timed crazy dashes and jumps should make short work of this glittering challenge.

Crazy Hopper
Crazy hopper offers a rather unholy challenge, thanks to an evil premise. You're charged with getting your fare to their destination before the time runs out, which would be fine if the level goal weren't at the end of a series of moving platforms that get progressively higher.

Crazy Rise
Crazy rise charges you with making it to the top of a series of platforms. The catch is that the platforms alternate between being in front and behind your taxi, forcing you to do a 180 degree spin after jumping to line yourself up with the next one.

Death to giant disco balls!
Death to giant disco balls!

Crazy Rush
Crazy rush puts a bumpy twist on the standard fare delivery by presenting you with three separate fares. You'll have to race them to their destinations and return to the central area to collect the next fare. The challenge lies in the uneven terrain that you'll encounter on your way toward each of your destinations.

Crazy Plates
Crazy plates will find you navigating an ever-tightening series of ascending platforms to reach your goal at the top. Well-aimed jumps and crazy dashes coupled with careful steering are vital to not plummeting to the ground.

Crazy Taxi 3 is coming along quite nicely. The improved graphics and gameplay are welcome tweaks to the series and keep to the level of quality and fun set by the original game. The only thing we were left pining for was a multiplayer component of some kind--be it split-screen two-player or some kind of party mode with the minigames. Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller is set to ship next month for the Xbox.

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