Monday, February 29, 2016

Crazy Taxi: City Rush (iOS, Android) Review

This month has flown by, and it's been full of mobile games! For the final review of February, we have Crazy Taxi: City Rush, and I assure you, the dollar sign in the logo is ironic as all get out!

A game so monetized, it's CRAZY.

A lot of publishers have attempted to put new spins on their classic franchises and interpreting them intelligently on mobile devices. Some have done well at this, while others have not. Sega's Crazy Taxi is a classic Dreamcast-era arcade-style title that now sees its first all-new mobile entry. With Crazy Taxi: City Rush, the developers at Hardlight Studios have created an arcade game that incorporates a lot of elements from the series well, while introducing a whole heaping pile of monetization-based roadblocks that surely sour the experience.

Crazy Taxi: City Rush is very much unlike past Crazy Taxi games, and that's mostly to do with the platform it's on, mobile. You don't have the luxury of driving freely around a relatively expansive city, picking up any fare that you want inside your craaaaazy taxi. Instead, you pick from a selection of fares from a menu of one of four areas of a city, which unlock as you make slow progress in the game. The fares have you starting a given play by picking up the person or people needing to be driven to a given location. Sometimes you'll pick up a new person at that same location, and need to drive them to a final spot to complete the fare. Of course, you have a set time limit to complete all of this in.

Load up on some Bite-Me Burgers, and then haul butt to your next destination.
Progress in Crazy Taxi: City Rush is done by completing HQ missions. Once all of them in a specific area of Bay City have been completed, you move on to the next area. However, this process does take a while as not only does your customizable taxi have weak stats-- too weak of stats to finish most of the missions-- but you also have play limits. This is where the stamina meter of most free-to-play games rears its annoying head.

You get four plays in your gas gauge that slowly regenerate after several minutes have gone by. You can get free plays from watching a video, but you can only do this a handful times before you can't do so for several hours. You can spend diamonds to refill your gas gauge, but these are better used for taxi upgrades and things of that nature. If you really enjoy City Rush or are just impatient, you can use real world money to either double your gas gauge (around five bucks) or purchase unlimited gas (around ten bucks) to play the game and drive fares as much as you want.

Drifting around uptown Bay City.
While having the option to get unlimited plays any time you want is nice, it's not really necessary to progress in City Rush. It just makes the process much, much, much faster. As you complete fares, you're constantly earning money to be used on new parts for your taxi. (You can also buy multiple taxis of different makes and models.) Things like upgrading your wheels to reduce wheelspin, making your car start out from the gate faster, and improve cornering; your boost tank to allow for more boosts, your engine to boost your top speed; and your body to reduce effects from crashing into things all increase the stats of your taxi.

Boost up your taxi's body so collisions like this won't slow you down as much.
Increasing the stats of your taxi makes it so the aforementioned HQ missions become much easier to accomplish. You can tell the difficulty of a given mission by the color of its bar. A red bar is the most challenging while a green bar is easy peasy pretty much. Thus, there is a lot of grinding to be found to get a suitable enough taxi to make actual progress in Crazy Taxi: City Rush. This obviously isn't a gameplay direction that fits everyone. Furthermore, it absolutely stinks that with each new area you unlock that you have to use an entirely new taxi on it. This means that you'll have to go through the progress of upgrading your taxi with each area you unlock in the game.

In addition to traditional Craxy Taxi fare-collecting and dropping-off missions, City Rush also has a Daily Rush mode that you can only play, of course, daily. It has you trying to go through as many checkpoints as possible with each checkpoint awarding you cash. The more consecutive days you play this mode, the more cash each checkpoint is worth. There is also a mode that is semi-daily that puts you in a tank, trying to run over and destroy as many vehicles as possible in a limited amount of time. These are fun additions to the formula and bring some freshness too.

Even with speeds going over 100 mph, getting your fare to his/her destination is more important than your safety.
Crazy Taxi: City Rush plays like a typical runner. Your taxi drives forward automatically, and by swiping to the left or right, it changes lanes. This is useful in avoiding traffic and collecting items on the streets. By holding the left or right side of the screen, your taxi turns in that direction. You can perform a Crazy Drift by holding the side of the screen in either direction before a turn to earn extra cash from your impressed fare(s). When it's time to stop at your fare's intended drop-off point, you furiously tap on the touch screen to brake and stop as fast as possible.

Tap, tap, tap-a-roo to stop your taxi in a jiffy.
The colors and visual style of Crazy Taxi: City Rush are extremely pleasing to the eye. The silky smooth and vibrant visuals aren't without a price, however, as sometimes the frame-rate can go into the proverbial crapper during more asset-intense moments. The soundtrack is suitably punk rock, but if you yearn for your own collection of music, you can create a custom playlist to better suit your musical tastes.

No, I will NOT make a joke about this ride being a day at the beach.
Crazy Taxi: City Rush captures the stellar, rambunctious, and speedy gameplay the series is known for and puts it in mobile format quite well. Depending on how much you can stand the game's blatant attempts at nickle and diming you out of real world money, City Rush can either be a joy or a major annoyance. For me, it was a bit of a grind to make much headway in the game, but I ended up enjoying picking up, dropping off passengers, and raising hell on the streets of Bay City in the process.

[SPC Says: B-]

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