It’s impossible to make a Taxi game without direct comparisons to the classic Crazy Taxi franchise, but Taxi Chaos is happy to brandish its taxi lineage with bright yellow cabs and similar new york settings, even down to the circles surrounding potential customers and the green box around target destinations.
At first glance, Taxi Chaos looks a lot like Crazy Taxi, but you shouldn’t write it off as a blatant rip-off, because under the hood, it’s not afraid to make a few subtle tweaks to the formula, which make Taxi Chaos equally fantastic and disappointing.
Once you start up Taxi Chaos you’re greeted with the option of Arcade, Pro or Free-roam modes, There’s a choice between two characters, Vinny and Cleo who only define the voice lines and character aesthetics, and then there’s a choice of cars, initially you’re limited to the starting Motor “King Vic” which is your typical jack of all trades with all stats at 3/6.
Arcade mode plays exactly as you’d expect with a time limit that ticks down, getting small boosts with each new client, deliver them quickly for greater profits and more spare time to make future runs, It’s likely to take an hour to unlock the next two vehicles, which give a little more variety, but it’s soon after that when you open up the beefy B10 and the speedy Veloce where you start to realise Taxi Chaos has some strategy in the glove box.
With these two cars, you’re finally given some maxed stats of weight (B10) and Speed (Veloce), you’ll find the Veloce far faster than anything else you’ve driven and I was soon racking up impressive scores, and at the time of writing sit at 7th in the world.
While I can’t imagine beating those scores with the B10 it’s a different play-style, being weighty (and still faster than the first three motors) it will knock away obstacles without losing much speed meaning you’re more likely to have a good run, but for a great run, you’ll need to master the Veloce and avoid obstacles to keep your speed, combos and income as high as possible.
Pro mode looks incredibly difficult at first glance, with no direction arrow to help you navigate to the destination, but it’s worth enduring to successfully survive 4 minutes to unlock the “TXI 4R” which is the last of two cars unlocks, for reference, 7 of the top 10 scores on the world leaderboard are with the 4R, the other three are with the Veloce.
Finally, there’s also the Yakan Type S, which requires finding 25 of the games 50 collectables, this is no easy task and is likely to be the bread and butter of longevity.
Graphically, I’ve been really impressed, Taxi Chaos looks gorgeous, far better than early screenshots and trailers made out, and best of all it runs silky smooth, there are a few glitches such as cars spawning under another which is funny to see, and thankfully just as simple to ignore as you’ll soon be screeching around that next corner.
Audio isn’t quite as good, and fans of Crazy Taxi will be sad to hear there’s no Offspring, in fact, there are no licensed tracks at all and the upbeat background music is fine but equally forgettable, my main annoyance is the limit of phrases, voice acting overall is pretty good, but there’s just not enough of it, in fact in a single arcade mode run, you’re likely to hear the same line about being one step closer to retirement so many times, you’ll feel ready to retire, there’s also a fair few occasions when a customer will repeat the same phrase immediately after first saying it.
I really hope the developers patch in some more audio, because it’s easily the biggest letdown.
The gameplay however is fun, it’s not quite as fast and fluent as Crazy Taxi, but the emphasis on the different cars gives a refreshing twist, do you risk that small gap to maintain speed, or do you jump over it and waste a second getting back up to maximum speed.
I do feel there’s plenty of variety to enjoy the different cars and it would be nice to see challenges that required a specific car, rather than just quickly opening up and sticking with the TXI 4R, and the disappointing leaderboards of only the top 10 should be expanded to not only the top 100+ but top scores with each car, to give more reason to explore other vehicles.
Speaking of exploration, when you tire of the arcade mode, (or failing at Pro Mode) you’ll want to set out on Free Roam to look for collectables, these start off with finding 5 objects, such as news cameras or toolboxes, or picking up a specific special client hidden somewhere in the world, finishing this first section starts the quest which then gives you another task to perform, some of these (seem to) require completion in a single run, and are likely to last long beyond the few hours it will take for standard arcade mode to feel a little repetitive.
Taxi Chaos is good and bad in many ways, I would have loved to have that speed and fluency of Crazy Taxi, but even the boost feels slow in all except the latter cars, the sound is disappointing, and the navigation arrow sometimes seems a little slow to react to taking shortcuts.
However, with the risk and reward factor of obstacles slowing down faster cars, plenty of shortcuts to master and dozens of collectables to work towards, there’s certainly more positives than otherwise.
It’s easy to recommend Taxi Chaos, I feel £25 might be a little high for some, but it’s a fair price, and if you don’t mind the repetitive nature of an old fashioned arcade game, there’s plenty to like if you can look past the above weaknesses.