New York City may be the real-life mecca for cabbies everywhere, but the faux-NYC depicted in Crazy Taxi 2 isnt a place I particularly enjoyed driving in. While I loved the first installment of the game, I honestly didnt see much room for improvement. Taking that first huge jump off of the hills of the fake San Francisco is undoubtedly going to go down as one of the classic moments in gaming, and the game overall was a simple-yet-addicting hopped up rock n roll ride.
While it was unavoidable that Sega (or any company for that matter) would try to capitalize on such a huge smash hit with a sequel, Im not really convinced that anything meaningful has been added to the experience.
For starters, most of the levels consist of tall skyscrapers and city blocks. While this is probably what most of New York looks like, (I havent been there) it makes for some pretty boring driving. Unlike Dale, Im a west-coast boy at heart and playing in the concrete jungle made me miss the seaside, rolling hills, and wide-open spaces of the first game. Sure, I understand that a sunny west-coast setting probably isnt what being a cabbie is all about, but it seems like there just arent enough interesting places for you to drive your yellow box to since it all looks basically the same.
Another thing I noticed was that the complexity of the cities seems at odds with the "pick-up-and-play" philosophy the first game thrived on. Driving in the Apple, you need to sit down and commit a lot of the citys layout to memory in order to achieve any meaningful level of success. Frankly speaking, I wasnt interested or willing to sit down and memorize much of anything since Crazy Taxi 2 (as well as the first game) are score-based titles best played in small doses. There simply wasnt enough motivation for me to invest the amount of time necessary and I question the designers choice to complicate things. The perfect example of this is the green directional arrow that Dale mentioned. It utterly fails as a directional aid for people who need it since it doesnt seem to take the altitude of your cab into account, and will often lead you in a wrong direction. Thats not even mentioning the fact that the arrow often swings around 180 degrees if you go from the ground to an elevated road, or vice versa. If you dont know how to get to your destination from memory, youd better get used to scoring some pretty low totals.
Hitmakers most significant addition (perhaps "modification" would be a better word) besides the new maps is the Crazy Hop. One of the things that I really loved about the first Crazy Taxi was that the cab basically had to follow semi-realistic rules such as dodging oncoming traffic or swerving in between and around obstacles. Sure, it wasnt a taxicab sim or anything, but you basically knew what the rules of driving a car were and which ones were supposed to be broken. With the Crazy Hop, you dont really need to pay attention to traffic barriers anymore since you can take to the skies at will. It may sound odd, but I think the Hop takes it a little too far in the direction of the unreal. Who hasnt dreamed of barreling over some sidewalk or screaming into the oncoming lane when youre stuck in rush hour? Adding the Hop has taken every frustrated motorists fantasy and turned it into something thats too far out of touch with whats possible and therefore becomes less compelling.
I basically agree with the rest of Dale's points and Ill finish up by saying that, in my opinion, this game didnt really need to be made. The first Crazy Taxi came as close to perfection as a fast arcade-style game can come, and if theres going to be a Crazy Taxi 3 it needs to move substantially past whats already been established. Hopefully Sega can implement some kind of Crazy Quest mode, or perhaps add some kind of back-story motivation with objectives in order to keep things fresh for what is basically the same game. It works for RPGs, so why not here? A few minor tweaks and a new place to drive around probably arent enough to satisfy anyone except the people who get into the technical-perfection aspect of the Crazy Taxi experience. Its not a horrible game by any means, but for people like me who have played the hell out of the first one, theres just no real reason to play this, especially since you can get the superior original for half the price. If you cant add anything meaningful and there isnt a plot, dont bother making a sequel.