The Dreamcast was known for having a lot of quirky, highly original games, one of which was Crazy Taxi, which had players trying to get as many fares as they could before time runs out. The game was both novel and exciting, providing crazy balls-to-the-wall action with a lot of personality and good controls to boot. Sadly, the PlayStation 2 port of Crazy Taxi is both lazy and messy, which puts a bit of a hamper on the fun.
Crazy Taxi’s gameplay is very simple but works perfectly. As a taxi driver in a city that looks a lot like San Francisco, your task is to get as many fares you can by driving customers to their destinations as fast as possible. Fares are color-colored by difficulty: green fares are the hardest, yellow fares are easier, and red fares are the easiest. What makes one fare more difficult than another is the distance that you have to travel, and the game gives you more or less time based on the difficulty of the fare. Fortunately, the game is always fair about how much time it gives you to compete fares, and it rewards nimble driving by awarding you extra money for weaving in between other vehicles without taking damage. Because the driving in Crazy Taxi is so insane, the handling of the taxis is rather loose, which feels essential in providing the breakneck thrills, but never feels out of your control. Furthermore, the city is open, but has a lot of hills and ramps, providing a playground suitable to your crazy antics.
You can choose between four drivers with distinct personalities and cab models, but it doesn't make a difference which one of the drivers you pick. However, if you’re looking for in-depth driving mechanics and deep car customization, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree.
The game has two cities and two main gameplay modes: arcade rules and original rules. Arcade is much more fun as you add to your timer by completing fares and your session comes to an end if you can’t keep the clock ticking, which is quite challenging. Original rules give you a set time limit, leading to more relaxed gameplay. Both modes have their place, but I can help but be disappointed that the PlayStation 2 version doesn’t bring any new content to the table. There’s a mode where you can take on special challenges, but its pretty thin content-wise, and think it might have been in the Dreamcast version as well.
Aside from not adding anything, the PlayStation version actually looks and performs worse than the Dreamcast version with messier-looking textures and tons of slowdown and pop-up, which becomes really distracting. I also can’t help but be disappointed that they haven’t expanded the soundtrack, which consists of punk rock that fits game’s extreme atmosphere very well but only has a few songs that get really repetitive.
Crazy Taxi is an extremely fun game that has a timeless quality about it, and it’s fun enough to overcome the laziness of the port, but this is probably not the best way to experience the game if you own a Dreamcast.