Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller Showcase: West Coast
The city from the original games gets a makeover for the Xbox. Read all about it in our preview.
In our second look at the newest installment in the Crazy Taxi series, we'll be focusing on the West Coast city, which returns from the original Crazy Taxi, as well as nine of the minigames you'll find in the Crazy X mode. The West Coast city, based in part on San Francisco, was the setting for the original Crazy Taxi and was last seen in the arcade version and subsequent Dreamcast conversion of the game, which also included a small assortment of minigames. Rather than just port over the level from those versions of the game with some graphical enhancements, developer Hitmaker has done some work to flesh out both of those offerings for Crazy Taxi 3. The result so far is a polished and graphically solid effort that plays quite a bit differently from the original.
If you're familiar with the original Crazy Taxi, you'll notice some graphical tweaks right off the bat. The character selection screen now features colorized versions of the cabs as you cycle through the four drivers from the original game: Axel, B.D. Joe, Gena, and Gus. The character models are detailed well enough but don't blow you away--mainly because they stay true to the simple, cartoony look of the series. The opening fly-through at the start of the level shows off the subtle reflective effects on the cab, seen in the chrome bumper, the shiny body, and the windshield. The rest of the level shows off the extra layer of Xbox gloss Hitmaker has added to the game, such as the new fire-trail effect when you perform a crazy dash. You'll also notice that you'll be taking around a more diverse crowd, which ranges from cheerleaders and people in bunny outfits to bodybuilders. While you'll find plenty to appreciate in the West Coast level's graphics, thanks to a good amount of color and detail, as well as the reflective effects mentioned earlier, it doesn't pack quite the punch of the Glitter Oasis level. However, to be fair, the level's clean and simple art style, coupled with its daytime setting, don't offer as much opportunity as Glitter Oasis' nighttime, neon-filled vistas to really show off the Xbox's graphical power.
Sound in the game is a near-perfect re-creation of the original game. Purists will notice that B.D. Joe's voice is different in this version of the game, but it's not a crippling change. You'll hear the same assortment of tunes from the Offspring and a wide assortment of sound bytes from your cabbie and the eclectic mix of passengers you'll be transporting across the city.
In terms of gameplay, the West Coast level offers a slightly different experience from the level in the first game. You'll find that the level features all the gameplay elements introduced in Crazy Taxi 2, such as the crazy hop, and has been structured to accommodate them. Areas behind fences near the start of the level have now been modeled to allow for exploration. You'll be able to jump your cab to get on top of buildings and pick up multiple passengers during your run through the city. Gameplay has been tweaked overall to balance out the new elements; for example, the crazy dash and shortcuts have become pretty vital to success now. You'll also find the map has been reworked to accommodate new areas such as an amusement park.
If you're interested in testing your skills beyond what the main game has to offer, you'll find a lot to explore in Crazy X, the minigame mode. You'll be able to choose from any of the 12 drivers featured in the series and have access to the gameplay additions just like in the game proper. As in the previous Crazy Taxi games, you'll start out with a selection of games that are initially selectable and will unlock the rest as you clear the first batch. We checked out nine of the games, which mixed minigames from previous installments of the game with new minigames.
This game, as seen in the original Crazy Taxi, challenges you to race along a platform at high speeds and shoot off into the air and down onto a field. Using the crazy dash and jump, it's possible to get some sweet air. Your goal is to beat the record before time runs out.
Another game from the original Crazy Taxi finds you racing through an open area popping huge balloons before time runs out. The level is now dimly lit, emphasizing your cab's headlights as you wade through the balloons. You'll notice you can pop some balloons only by jumping onto them.
Crazy ramps manages to capture the over-the-top approach seen in the original Crazy Taxi. Set amid Egyptian ruins, the game charges you with tearing down a straightaway and making your way across to several huge platforms that feature progressively smaller ramps to shoot off of.
Crazy poles is a race to get eight customers to their destinations at eight poles along a winding and narrowing path up a hill before times runs out. While you'll be able to rely on the poles to help slow you down and position yourself for your next run, they'll get progressively smaller as you work your way to the end of the level.
Crazy ring adds a touch of Las Vegas showmanship to the proceedings by putting you in the center of a caged-in arena surrounded by spectators. You're charged with jumping through a flaming ring in the center of the arena eight times before the clock runs down.
Crazy bowling should offer fans of the series a nice sense of déjà vu as they tear down a straightaway at top speed slamming into pins. As before, you'll have to rely on sliding in order to hit every set of bowling pins on your way to the end.
You'll be charged with using the crazy dash to hop from platform to platform on your way to delivering your customers to their precarious destinations. The added challenge of doing so before the clock runs down keeps things understandably tense.
The cliffside track stage in crazy canyon offers a pretty hefty challenge. You'll tear across the side of a hill on a very narrow and curvy road. The catch is, of course, making sure you don't fall off and delivering your passenger before time runs down.
Crazy floor throws a moving floor at you, which stands between you and your goal of delivering your fares to their destinations. Keeping your balance while steering makes things rather hectic as you work to the center of the Egyptian-themed level.
Be sure to check back next week as we check out the Small Apple level and the rest of the minigames.
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