Quick View of Taxi Chaos:
Release Date: February 23, 2021
Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One
A game key for Taxi Chais was provided by Lion Castle Entertainment.
My brother got a Dreamcast for Christmas when we were kids, and for months it was basically a Crazy Taxi machine. We played that game so much that it burned the soundtrack from The Offspring and Bad Religion into my soul. When I first saw screenshots of Taxi Chaos, a spiritual successor to the franchise, I knew I had to give it a shot.
Pedal to the Metal
At it’s core, Taxi Chaos doesn’t do a whole lot to change up the genre. The main mode has you pick a driver and a car and puts you right in the action. You drive around a cartoony take on New York City where you stop next to a pedestrian to pick them up, then race as fast as you can to their destination while avoiding traffic and looking for ridiculous stunts to do. The controls feel snappy, and the inclusion of a jump ability allows you to leap over traffic and find shortcuts across roof tops.
The game has two different drivers to choose from, both of which start with the same basic cab. After a few runs through the city I unlocked two new Taxis with slightly different stats, but I didn’t notice much change in the gameplay. So I basically started runs by choosing the taxi that looks the coolest.
Missions and Modes
Outside of the main Arcade mode, Taxi Chaos offers three extra wrinkles to how you play the game.
First is a free play mode, which lets you cruise around the city with an endless timer. At first I didn’t really see the appeal of this, but then I unlocked the Pro Mode.
Pro Mode drops you into the city with a timer and asks you to chauffer passengers, just like the arcade mode, but with one distinct difference: You no longer have a giant floating arrow over your car directing you where to drop people off. Instead, it’s up to you to know the streets and landmarks of NYC well enough to navigate all on your own. I’m going to be totally honest, I’ve not yet dropped off a single passenger at their destination in Pro Mode.
The other added hook is the most intriguing: passengers with ongoing narratives. My first encounter with this system was picking up a struggling comedian who longed for a whoopie cushion. I then had an ongoing objective of finding whoopie cushions throughout future runs through the city. This is a nice extra bonus when you’re playing around, though a score attack game isn’t necessarily the best marriage with exploration that I’ve seen.
So far I’ve only found that single passenger with a narrative, and I have only picked up the one whoopie cushion for them. But the in-game Achievements & Collectibles menu shows that there are a total of 10 of these quest lines to unlock and complete.
This game is absolutely serviceable and fun, but I feel like there are two aspects of it that bring down the overall experience.
First, the setting feels a little bland. The original Crazy Taxi had a city full of hills to go careening up, over, and down. I loved shooting down the hillsides and dodging trollies in that original game. Playing in an East Coast metropolis means you mostly find yourselves on flat streets. Weirdly, this version of NYC is also surprisingly devoid of traffic, with very little activity on the streets. This does make it easier to get to your destinations quickly, but it feels a bit barren.
Adding to the slightly drab feeling is the music. The Offspring’s All I Want from Crazy Taxi is a fantastic, high energy skate punk track that gets you pumped and energized as soon as you hear “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!”
In Taxi Chaos, though, you just get some generic background music, which carries through the menus, so there’s no big crescendo as you start a run in arcade mode. Now, indie devs are certainly not going to have The Offspring on retainer, but it just feels a little off-the-mark for what they’re going for.
I do want to note that the developers have said that an early patch will add in more music to the game, so hopefully something more energetic shows up soon.
Final Thoughts on Taxi Chaos
It’s impossible not to compare this Taxi Chaos to the original Crazy Taxi (or to the Xbox Arcade version, since that’s what I’ve got available to me). Looking at them side by side, Taxi Chaos takes the lead on the overall feel of driving around thanks to more modern controls.
However, the chaos of the more populous and varied landscape of Crazy Taxi made it more fun overall. This is still a fun take on the genre, but it doesn’t compete with either the Dreamcast classic or Simpsons Road Rage for my top tier of Taxi games.
Geek to Geek Rating: 3 out of 5
Final Note: It looks like there is a patch that should be available at release for the Xbox and PlayStation versions of this game, and in a few weeks on Switch. This review will be updated when that becomes available if it substantially changes the experience. This review was written for a pre-release version, pre-patch.