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Retro Review: Crazy Taxi – PS5, PS4 (PS Now)

Does the OG taxi-racer still play well in 2021?

With Taxi Chaos out and about on consoles, I thought I’d take a look back on the game that inspired it: Crazy Taxi.


For starters, let’s see where we can actually play this ancient curio from generations passed.

PC is the obvious option, but on consoles, it’s a tale of two halves. On Xbox you can play the Xbox 360 version across all Xbox consoles. So if you have a 360 lying around, you can play it in that. Or if you have an Xbox One or a Series X|S, you can play it there too thanks to back-compatibility

On PlayStation, there are options too. You can play on PS3, PS4, and PS5. However, on PS4 and PS5, you can only play the game via streaming with PlayStation Now, which is also useable on PC. If your internet is decent, you can play the game really nicely using PS Now, but it’s still not quite as good as playing it on a local console, so for me, Xbox Series X is where I get my fix of Crazy Taxi, but PS Now is a great back-up for when the main TV is occupied.

Crazy Taxi is a racer with a difference. Rather than racing other cars, you’re constantly racing the clock as you ferry passengers around the city.

You’ve got two modes – arcade and original – and honestly, I can’t tell what the difference is between them. For all intents and purposes, they’re identical. Within each one are a few gameplay options. You can play by arcade rules, which means that you keep building your time with each passenger successfully delivered. Or you can choose to work for a set amount of time, 3, 5, or 10 minutes.

There is also another mode, but I absolutely hate it because it demands you to pull off driving stunts. I wouldn’t mind if the controls weren’t so convoluted; even the descriptions for the moves are confusing. But if you want to get the complete trophy or achievement set, you’ll have to git güd.

Back in its day, there wasn’t really anything like Crazy Taxi, at least not until The Simpsons Road Rage came along and did the exact same thing. For a long while, then, it stood alone and it actually began life in arcades. I remember it being one of my favourite machines to feed coins to when we would go to the cinema. It was also one of the only games that worked in the crappy cinema arcade; the others had been vandalised by the local scumbag chavs. Didn’t they realise they were vandalising their future place of work?

The first home console port was to the Dreamcast, which I never owned, but it also eventually released on the PS2 and Gamecube, with the latter being where I used to play as a kid. My friends and I would take turns (I even had a racing wheel for the Gamecube…) and then thump whoever kept on winning.

Gameplay is simple; you pick a car and driver and then you hit the streets in search of fares. People who need to get shipped around are easy spot in their coloured circles, with the colour of their circle determining the difficulty/distance of their desired journey. You get a set amount of time to complete the fare, and the quicker you do it, the more money you’ll earn. You can also earn bonus cash during the journey by performing crazy stunts, having near-misses with traffic, and generally driving like a bit of a loon. The gameplay was strong 20 years ago, and it’s just as strong today – it holds up beautifully, even if the presentation is more than a little dated.

The graphics have not come along well and here in the present, they’re definitely showing their age. That’s not to say that the game is an unplayable blurry, muddy mess. It’s not. It’s OK, and the main focal point of your attention – your chosen taxi – still looks pretty good and that’s the main thing.

Some aspects of the game are well beyond dated and are quite jarring, like the constant pop-in of new vehicles and roads. In its day, it was still really good and we never moaned about such things back then, so it’s not really fair to hold this classic up to the same standards of today.

There’s also the issue of the music and locations in the game. Due to licensing agreements expiring, and SEGA not wanting to pay for them again, the modern versions of Crazy Taxi have different soundtracks and generic locations. So, instead of dropping the pervert pastor off at Pizza Hut, you take him to the Pizza Shack, or whatever it’s called now. It’s not a big deal and it’s not affecting gameplay, but as a kid, I thought it was cool that KFC was in a video game.

Replayability comes in the form of chasing high scores and going for trophies and achievements. There’s no local multiplayer but you can pass the controller between players and record your scores using the in-game leaderboard, which is what the Lady of the House and I have been doing on Saturday nights. Yeah, we’re wild…

Crazy Taxi is still a really good game, even if it hasn’t aged terribly well. There’s a modern successor in the form of Taxi Chaos and it really does stand to be the de-facto taxi-racing game (is it a genre?) unless SEGA does something to bring back the beloved Crazy Taxi name.

Crazy Taxi PS Now Review
  • Overall - Very Good - 7/10
    7/10
7/10

Summary

Crazy Taxi is over two decades old and still being talked about. If there was any indication that it’s a timeless classic, that’s it.

Pros

  • Still plays great in 2021
  • Simple but timeless gameplay
  • It’s got that “something” to it; a certain attitude of its time that’s missing from modern clones

Cons

  • Modern ports are missing the original tunes and locations
  • On PlayStation, it’s streaming or nothing
  • The driving controls are super sensitive

Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy. 

Reviewed using PS5 (via PS Now), PC (via PS Now), and Xbox Series X.

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