the writings of a mind

Title: Crazy Taxi 3
Genre: Racing Arcade
Strap: Well practiced at shouting unheard abuse at the cretins that pollute our roads, it was only natural for John Walker to become a taxi driver.

If at some point in your life you have had cause to ride aboard one of Londonís black taximeter cabriolets, you will know something of the mysterious qualification known as "The Knowledge". This is the test all black cab drivers must take before they can get their license. This is the information needed for them to say, "oh, yeah, is that the one by the Palladium?" and then attempt a glare of nonchalance as they flurry through an A to Z. However, Londonís cab drivers can afford such a lax attitude, due to the lack of an ever-present malevolent ticking countdown hovering above his vehicle. To succeed in Crazy Taxi, youíll need to have a Knowledge of every city down to its most finest short-cut detail.

History lesson: Crazy Taxi was a big hit on Segaís terminal console, the Dreamcast. It had the rather clever idea of having you charge around a city, picking up fares and then racing with all your force to deposit them at their destination within a ridiculously tight time-limit. In true arcade fashion, stringing fares together added to your remaining time, with bonuses thrown in for particular moves, jumps or short-cuts. There were a few bonus games, and different drivers to choose, but as simple ideas go, it was a brilliant one, and one that reminded people that Sega arenít always that rubbish.

Two sequels later, and where have we got? In all honestly, not much further. Crazy Taxi 2 introduced a second city, and boosted gameplay by proffering the slightly unlikely ability to have your car Crazy-Hop. i.e. jump. And now, in the previously Xbox-only third incarnation, theyíve addedÖ another city. And thatís it.

Please donít take this despondent reaction as a criticism of the inherent mechanics of the game Ė this is still the brilliant Crazy Taxi idea, in spangly PC graphics-o-rama, with glowing headlights and three large, fluid cities. The original West Coast city has been lovingly recreated, slightly expanded, and can now be rediscovered with the power of the Hop, allowing access to rooftops and other places cabs really oughtnít go. And there are twenty-five mini-games - some rehashes of previous versions, while others are new ideas. So what we have here is a Ďproperí Crazy Taxi game.

But what we donít have here is innovation. If weíre brutally honest, GTA III/Vice City features taxi driving as a throw-away mini-game. While CT may be much faster, more frantic, and certainly more ridiculous, it does call into question whether this is enough of a game in and of itself to justify a third release. The mini-games are mostly poor, reminiscent of the lazy box-bashing of Segaís Virtua Tennis series, and so offer nothing to elevate the experience.

This is a fine racing game, but with so little forward motion, you can only conclude that Crazy Taxi is stuck on the North Circular, honking its horn loudly, but not really getting anywhere.

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A real strength of CT3 is the incredible speeds you can reach, never better than hurtling downhill.

In the original Crazy Taxi, a highlight was the recreation of San Franciscoís insane hill leading from the top of the city to the sea. And in this reinvention of the level, itís back once more, but this time with the Crazy Hop intact, allowing the ride to be that little bit more, er, crazy.

In the West Coast level, youíll find it if you head to the right, take the first fare available, and then continue downhill from the drop-off point. Hit jump on the crest of a bump, and youíll learn to fly.


As well as the three cities, there are 25 mini-games to complete, of varying quality.

In the very same mould as Virtua Tennis or Monkey Ball, these mini-games serve to better improve your skills in the various tricks necessary for high-scoring antics within the main game. However, with so many included, itís pretty clear that there was a desperate rush to cobble them together. Some, like driving through the tornado dodging the falling cars, work extremely well, practising your Crazy Drift to improve speed. But others, such as the baseball, are tacky and pointless, with no proper instruction, leaving you in no doubt that their happenstance was born out of someoneís saying "Oh, we havenít done a baseball one yet."

Reality check: Taxis in America are not allowed on rooftops, as this is in direct violation of traffic regulations.

 Everything Crazy Taxi 2 ever offered, but now with prettier graphics.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: Sega
Price: £35
Minimum System: 1Ghz CPU, 256Mb RAM, 32Mb 3D card
Recommended: 512Mb RAM, 64Mb 3D card
Multi-player: Would have been nice, but solely single player.
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