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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

 

 

 

       

 

 



Segaís Crazy Taxi was one of the biggest Dreamcast hits of the past year and thereís already a sequel out in stores. Does the quick turnaround suggest a rushed sequel or is there more to Crazy Taxi 2 than meets the eye? Do the enhanced features including new cabbies, a different city and many new features retain the classic feel and gameplay flow of the original, or is this little more than the same game with a few tweaks? The Laser looks at this feverishly anticipated follow-up and answers those questions and more.

Thereís bound to be some trepidation on the part of DC gamers out there, as itís almost always a red-flag when the sequel to a popular game comes out relatively quickly. Thereís a tendency on the part of game companies to cash in on a hot franchise and release sub-par sequels, to milk the cow. Fortunately, weíre talking Sega here, well-known for both itís prolific output and its consistency. Fortunately, this means that Crazy Taxi 2 doesnít fit those diminished expectations, mostly because the original game was so immediately addictive and irresistible and because the follow-up carries on these traits while also adding some major new game elements that offer significantly more challenge. While there have some big cosmetic changes (the game now takes place in New York, there are some new cabbies, etc.), CT2ís basics remain largely intact, the goal remains picking up passengers and getting them to their destinations on time. Doing that successfully earns the cabbie money. You get extra cash depending on how fast you arrive at the destination and can earn extra money by performing Crazy Stunts during the cab ride. Players will find the approach and flow of Crazy Taxi 2 is very familiar, which is good since the gameplay of the original was so satisfying. The good news here is that the upgrades and changes only serve to enhance the experience, making things more complex and satisfying.

The single biggest change in CT2  is the ability of the cabbies to pick up multiple passengers, which adds a significant layer of strategy onto the action, changing the gameplay significantly. However, the risk of picking up multiple fares is much greater, but the rewards are bigger. When you perform stunts the money you get is multiplied for them, which can make for some huge fares, however this is definitely a more challenging task to complete since the more passengers have a tendency to have their arrival points further apart, lessening the room for error. Since you get nothing if all the passengers in that group donít reach their destinations on time, it adds a new dimension to the title and makes playing exponentially more challenging.  Crazy Taxi 2ís other gameplay innovation is the new jump maneuver that allows the cabbie to jump over oncoming traffic with ease, this deepens the game without losing the essential fun of the first. Jumping now also allows the game to have more complex courses with multiple levels which really increases the complexity and fun Ė trying to go back to the original was that much harder because of this. Jumping really changes Crazy Taxi 2ís flow for the better because you arenít stuck in traffic jams as often, and jumping also allows the cabbie to rack up some serious extra cash for the time in the air. Most importantly, this also has the effect of making things that much more fun and even more addictive than the first.  

Thankfully, the Crazy Taxi feel is largely intact since the controls are still essentially the same. You need to only worry about going forward or reverse and steering but now with the addition of the jump, getting through traffic is easier but the time constraints have been adjusted accordingly. Thankfully, the controls are still as tight as ever allowing players to concentrate on the gameplay, not the controller. This is a real plus because it takes the game down to the basics and is a key to the gameís appeal. Like Tony Hawk, the simple control interface and non-linear gameplay allows the player plenty of freedom. Players can choose to pick up short-range passengers or to take on the more difficult longer routes - itís entirely up to them. The real key to success in CT2 is memorizing the location of the various places in the game, which allows you to aim the cab in the right direction before you have to decide where to go and frequently take wrong turns. 

Crazy Taxi 2ís game modes copy the first titleís successful formula. The standard arcade mode starts the player off with a limited amount of time and extra time is earned when you pick up a passenger, the other thing is you get a few extra seconds on the clock when you deliver a passenger to their destination quickly. There are basically two clocks you have to watch at all times, the main clock which is ticking down and the passenger clock, which you have to beat in order to get a fare. This gives the game quick a bit of tension and speed, making it a die-hard classic arcade racing experience. The trick here is to build up a reservoir of extra time by picking up short-distance passengers that can usually come in with the quickest time, then use the extra time to try for longer distance fares and multiples. There are also several un-timed modes which allow you top play for 3, 5, or 10 minutes, this is basically a training mode that can be used to familiarize yourself with locations but since it doesnít allow you to get extra time, doesnít accurately reflect the challenge of arcade mode. Of course, these are all expected, but thereís one extra mode that really extends CT2ís long-term appeal.

While the first game had a Crazy Box mode, CT2ís new Crazy Pyramid mode is where youíll find the mini-games that both help you master the taxiís controls and also allows you to earn extraís and unlock secrets when you beat a certain level. The mini-games start out simply enough but gradually scale up to become extremely difficult then seemingly next-to-impossible. You start but doing jumps, hitting things and taking passengers to their destinations using special moves then move on to more complex mini-games where you have to keep your cab on an extremely narrow road without falling. While it seems easy at first, the Crazy Pyramid mode is something that should take players quite some time to master. The promise of new vehicles and Ďnewí cabbies should be motivation enough. With this mode, theyíve done it once more:  Sega has taken an already appealing and addictive title with an intrinsically high replay value and added enough extra challenge to keep you playing for months.

Crazy Taxi 2ís visuals look essentially the same as the first game, with the same speedy frame rates as the original Ė it looks like it runs on the same engine as the first. However CT2 also features the same annoying occasional slowdown that plagued the first game, especially annoying when your car goes underwater, which is very aggravating. Objects in the distance suffer the same glaring pop-in that plagued the first game, but the cars on the street donít seem to have this glaring defect in quite the amount the first game didnít, which is a noticeable improvement. Overall, the visuals and graphics engine make CT2 look about as good as the first game did, and most of the flaws are comparatively minor when balanced with the superlative elements in the engine. Keeping what works, CT2ís music once again features pop-punkers the Offspring along with Methods of Mayhem. The bandsí hard-driving music fits the frenetic action perfectly though it does have a tendency to overwhelm the action and drowns out the voice-acting in the default setting. If you donít like that kind of soundtrack, you can also turn the music entirely off as well.

So in the end, all the elements that made the first game are still very much in evidence: the addictive gameplay, non-linear levels, tight, intuitive controls and the challenge of constantly topping your own high scores all make for a nearly flawless experience once again. On top of that, now add new abilities, more challenging course designs and an extremely addictive mini-games mode and you have all the ingredients for a superb sequel. The only minor blemish is that the graphics could have used some upgrading, but the majority of gamers should gladly overlook this since pure-bred console action games this good donít come along often. Crazy Taxi 2 has everything that original so appealing and much more, making it yet another must-buy Dreamcast title that offers a seemingly bottomless amount of guilt-free gaming pleasure.