Crazy Taxi was one of my all-time favourite games to play as a kid. It was simple, satisfying, and really good fun. Unfortunately, SEGA has left Crazy Taxi to die and now we have nothing. Or do we…
Enter: Taxi Chaos, a new Crazy Taxi-inspired game by Dutch developer Lion Castle. But is it any good? Does Taxi Chaos deliver, or does it spit and splutter at the starting line? Honestly, it’s a bit of both, but I’m leaning more towards this one being a win, especially for fans of the Crazy Taxi games, and I count myself among their numbers.
The gameplay is exactly what you would expect: You drive a cab, pick up passengers, and ferry them around a really lovely, bright and colourful version of New York City. It’s more an idyllic version of the Big Apple than a genuine representation; the real place is nowhere near as pretty. But, the game does take strides to recreate landmarks like Central Park, the piers, and even City Hall and the Empire State Building, all renamed, of course, to avoid evil lawyers.
You drive up to a passenger, park inside their circle, and then they’ll tell you where they want to go. An on-screen arrow will guide the way, and a little box in the bottom left will give you a rough idea as to how far away you are and if you’re travelling in the right direction.
I found the arrow to be a bit of a pain. It wasn’t always accurate and would often point in the opposite direction, even when I was looking right at my end destination. It could do with a bit of tweaking, then.
I used the bottom left box, which shows your distance from your target location, and that did the job a little better. I knew that if the number was going down quickly, I was going the right way, and then it’s just a case of getting to the last 100m and keeping an eye out for the marked zone to park in. Simple.
Taxi Chaos isn’t content with just ripping an entire concept and calling it a day. The game also has a jumping mechanic which sounds like good fun on paper, but in reality, I seldom used it. But that could change, and let me explain why.
The jumping is supposed to give you a little boost up to rooftop shortcuts, and it does. It can also be used to jump over traffic or other obstacles that get in your way. And it works. But, and here’s the kicker, it really slows you down afterwards. Only for around a second, mind you, but you lose all the momentum you’ve built up and it just feels like jumping resets your rhythm. The developer has told me that they’re working on an update to improve this, as well as a few other things, so I’m hopeful that in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to revisit the game and see if I can beat some of my scores. There is a day one update, but the list of fixes does not specifically mention this specific issue, but I’ll definitely come back around after testing the update.
Taxi Chaos boasts three game modes. You have your traditional arcade-style mode where you’re racing the ticking clock. You also have a Pro Mode, which is the same but without any of the visual guidance. You’ll need to git güd at the game to make any progress here, and it’s unfortunate that the best cars are locked behind Pro Mode progress. Not because I’m crap at the game (at the time of putting this review together, I’m on the top five leaderboards!) but for the younger players who may not have the ability to play the game as well as us grown-ups.
Lastly, there’s Freeroam, and here you’re free to just explore the city at your leisure without any timer. You can still pick up passengers if you want, but it’s best used as a learning tool to try to memorise customer drop off locations for Pro Mode. It’s also nice to just have a little zip around, and my four-year-old boy, Charlie, enjoyed driving around and jumping across buildings without being pressured to play the game properly. So if you’ve got younger kids, I’d suggest plinking them in Freeroam as it’s the least stressful.
I really enjoyed playing Taxi Chaos but it’s not perfect, and it’s a far way from being a must-play game. For one, it just doesn’t feel like Crazy Taxi. I know it’s supposed to be its own thing, but it’s missing the winning attitude that Crazy Taxi had. That’s partly down to the family-friendly presentations and the elevator music soundtrack. But again, this is something that will change in the near future; the developer told me that some more upbeat rock music will be added to the game in a future update.
The game also has a few unfortunate glitches. I’ve had a handful of crashes, though thankfully not during actual gameplay, but after a run has ended. The visuals, while being really nice and colourful, aren’t anything to shout about. Characters are basic, but they are at least voiced, and there is some humourous, self-aware back and forth between your choice of driver (there are two drivers) and passengers. But, there are glitches, and while they’re not game-breaking, they’re annoying; I’ve never enjoyed falling through the map in any game, and Taxi Chaos is no different. Again, this is an issue that the day one update may resolve, and to be fair, it’s a rare occurrence; in a few hours of play, it happened just twice, and on one of those occasions I was actively trying to make it happen, just to see if I could.
Taxi Chaos sets out to bring the familiar Crazy Taxi-style arcade gameplay to modern audiences. And in that respect, it fulfils its mission, and in some ways, exceeds the original. The driving is by far the strongest part of the game and it feels really responsive, unlike Crazy Taxi, where the smallest of nudges on the stick will send you wildly off course. It’s also much more varied in its gameplay, and the city is obviously a much more interesting place to drive around and explore; there are even collectables and passenger quests.
The question to be answered: is Taxi Chaos better than Crazy Taxi? Personally, I’d say so. The driving is better, the passengers have a bit of personality, the game is fun, and the modern presentation definitely helps. What it lacks in polish it more than makes up for in charm, and make no mistake, this is one hell of a charming game, and terrific fun to boot.
Taxi Chaos PS5, PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Taxi Chaos might be a shameless knock-off, but it at least has the distinction of being a fantastic shameless knock-off. Taxi Chaos does what SEGA don’t.
- Lovely, colourful visuals.
- A nice selection of taxis.
- Core Crazy Taxi-stlye gameplay is spot-on.
- Driving is actually fun and feels great.
- Unlocking earlier cars is too simple, while the best are too hard to get.
- The graphics may look nice, but there’s definitely room for improvement.
- The arrow isn’t very reliable and seems all over the place at times.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS5 and PS4.