Crazy Taxi: City Rush - It's a brave break from the legendary format of the original, but is it too daring to be tolerated?
Though I have some contention with the title (I mean, it's not as if the original's pace was akin to a relaxing romp through a sparsely populated city), there's no denying the pull of Crazy Taxi: City Rush. A sequel to the loyal port of the original, Dreamcast-bound Crazy Taxi, City Rush is a free-to-play title that is similar in name but fairly unfamiliar in gameplay. Taking a direction more akin to Sonic Dash than Crazy Taxi, City Rush has you ducking and diving in and out of the lane-based surroundings trying to get your passengers to their destination. Crazy Taxi it is not, but don't write City Rush just yet. Continue Reading
Release Date: 29/07/2014
Available on: iOS, Android
A Name That's Shared, A Glory That's Not
There's nothing as frustrating as being stuck in traffic when you need to be somewhere. Actually, there are many things more upsetting than this, such as the talent-to-income ratio of stars such as Nicki Minaj, but perhaps the most grating of all is sitting in traffic in a taxi during rush hour, watching the fare creep up slowly but surely as if the world is trying to charge you for the incompetency and lateness of your driver. It may be a little puzzling to many then that Sega chose to make what is now a video game series out of such a potentially infuriating situation, but here we are talking about Crazy Taxi: City Rush, a free-to-play lane-based driving game that shares a portion of its name with its predecessor Crazy Taxi but not much else, and that includes the entertainment value.
A New Direction
It is a bit useless to try and make comparisons between the original mobile Crazy Taxi and City Rush, largely (if not wholly) because they're two hugely different gameplay experiences when you get down to the core mechanics. The original involved an open-world format that you could explore freely, utilising back alleys and self-learned shortcuts to shave precious seconds off your time. City Rush has taken away the essence of the original by making it a sort of lane-based endless runner that is broken up by taking passengers from one location to another, dodging and generally avoiding traffic around you by utilising a fairly basic control system.
The simplicity in the controls comes as a result of the game's relatively unfamiliar format. Gone are the days of making sharp turns into side-alleys at the drop of a hat: now you simply swipe left, right, forward, or back to initiate movement in said directions as well as a cheeky speed boost here and there. It's not that the controls are bad, they just seem to be lacking the edge and dare I say the soul of the original Crazy Taxi.
Upgrade. (To a New Bank Account)
Let's just try to focus on the positives for a minute, shall we Crazy Taxi fans? This game isn't without its good bits. Though you don't have an open world to explore, you do have a bit more upwards progression in the form of a myriad of upgrades to earn (or more likely purchase, if developers Hardlight Studios had any say in it, which ultimately they do). Things like improved and flashy paint jobs for your taxi can be purchased, as can the standard (for freemium games, anyhow) stat points that improve your car's performance. You can also do things like rent out your spare vehicles in order to collect money from what would otherwise be an idling vehicle.
The problem with these upgrades and extras however, is that they are ultimately designed to grab hold of your metaphorical teat and milk it until it's dry. I'm talking about the in-app purchases, and pretty much everything that goes on in this game is part of a fairly obvious ploy to get you to open up your wallet for some literal milking of your money. Having car parts delivered takes time, but skipping it can be done by spending money on the game's premium currency. Sure you can purchase better drivers to enhance your performance, but you'd better be prepared to hand over some gems for the privilege, which means yet more money from your real-life account.
Don't get me wrong: this isn't ruinous for the core of the game. It's still very enjoyable in the sense that you've got perhaps an even faster-paced experience than the original Crazy Taxi. It's a fairly entertaining time-tight game in parts, with swipe-to-move controls facilitating the game's adeptness for being on the mobile platform.
But those expecting an experience as good as or even hugely similar to the original Crazy Taxi may be significantly disappointed. It doesn't have the nostalgic value of the original, but that's not this game's fault: it's simply because City Rush isn't a port of the Dreamcast-based original that has the power to evoke some pleasant nostalgia in long-term fans of the game. The freemium is a little too strong in this one however, marring the experience enough with upgrades that really aren't worth it for the experience.
Crazy Taxi City Rush is developed by Hardlight Studios.