A few months back when Sega announced it would license some its franchises out potential PS2 publishers, many people were foaming at the mouth just at the thought of Sega games on the superior PS2. Shortly after the announcement, Acclaim picked up the rights to Crazy Taxi and Eighteen Wheeler American Pro Trucker. Crazy Taxi would be the first offering from Acclaim and so the conversion wheels were set in motion. As time passed, numerous rumbling could be found on the Net about how poorly the translation was going. Horror stories of unplayable preview code, massive slow-downs and sloppy graphics abounded all around the world. The game finally shipped and we are happy to report that the conversion was done well but it is just that a straight conversion, no extras, no improvement on the Dreamcast shortcomings and no reason to purchase it on the PS2 if you have already enjoyed it on the Dreamcast.
If you have played the Dreamcast version then you will notice very little difference on the PS2 version. The same nuances of slowdown and pop-up on the DC version have found their way onto the PS2 conversion. Not only are they there but in some cases they are a lot worse than the DC version. How can this be considering the PS2 is supposed to dwarf the DC in terms of visual prowess? The PS2 version suffers from more extreme cases of pop-up and slowdown. The pop-up issue usually is not effected by the scenery but rather by the vehicles on the roads. You go jumping off a ramp and land with sudden cars popping out of nowhere. Resulting head on collisions are unavoidable. The slowdown occurs in precarious places as well. During the game's extra Crazy Box mode, we found slowdown to occur at points that threw off your rhythm and coordination which are vital to your success in clearing these challenges. Not all is lost however, as Acclaim was successful in maintaining the break-neck pace that is the essence of Crazy Taxi.
As with the Dreamcast version, the soundtrack is fantastic sporting popular tunes from alternative heroes Bad Religion and The Offspring. The problem is there is not enough variety from these two bands. The available tracks tire quickly and eventually become more of annoyance than anything. The sound effects and voice acting from the various characters in the game have been done exceptionally well.
Acclaim has done a fantastic job at maintaining the tight controls of the DC version. In fact, they have made them one step better thanks to the pressure sensitivity of the Dual Shock 2. Now doing all of the fancy tricks and high speed maneuvers are much easier and more accessible. Every element of the DC version has been re-created for this version. The idea is simple, pick up passengers and get them to their destination as quickly as possible. Go over buildings, through parks, under the subway, under the water, jump over bridges, and drive through shopping malls to get them there. Fine tune your driving skills by mastering all of the maneuvers in order to cut delivery time down and increase your tips and overall fare.
The ingenious Crazy Box has made the port as well and this is definitely a good thing. People will spend hours here trying to complete every challenge. It is too bad the slowdowns cause some issues here. It also would have been nice to see something added to the PS2 version. Instead you get exactly the same thing as the DC version. Rumor has it that Sega did not want any upgrades in order to keep the DC version as good if not better than anything else on any other platform. This is difficult to swallow for those who have a DC and PS2 as the superior Crazy Taxi 2 is now appearing on DC. As with the DC version, you will find the standard arcade mode along with the original mode. The original mode is a new track in which you can choose a varied time limit in which to work with. Again a new track for the PS2 version would have given more value to the game.
A tighter graphics engine and additional upgrades to the PS2 version would have easily boosted the overall score of Crazy Taxi. As it stands, Crazy Taxi for the PS2 is a fun ride, but unnecessary for those who have played the slightly superior Dreamcast iteration. Let's hope Crazy Taxi 2 shows up on PS2 sooner than later.