Review code for Taxi Chaos was provided by Team6.
Remembering the good old days…
What a year 1999 was. Not only had Sega launched the unfortunately short-lived and company-destroying Dreamcast, but they also gifted us the outstanding, Crazy Taxi. I had just turned seven at the time and let me tell you, I loved it something rotten. The insane gameplay, rocking music and, for the time, top-notch graphics enamoured me like no other game before it. It’s a shame then, that the series has laid dormant for a good long while, but its memory lives on. One plucky bunch of developers have stepped up to try and recreate the magic with Taxi Chaos…but is it good enough to carry the torch?
Absolutely not. Not even close. This game is terrible – at least on the Switch. Let’s talk performance, or the lack thereof. Taxi Chaos runs like a disabled – possibly dead – two-legged horse. It chugs to the point where its resting frame-rate struggles to hit double digits. The constant jerking not only gave me a headache the likes of which I have never before experienced, but also gave my family a fair amount of motion sickness.
That’s not all though – the game is riddled with bugs. On multiple occasions, I fell through the universe and plummeted into the Earth’s glitchy, unfinished core. The game also loved to freeze from time to time and even flat-out crash. The game physics don’t seem to be functioning either, with collisions either doing nothing or propelling you with such velocity you could probably make it to the moon. Don’t even try to jump either, as doing so will cause the game to freak out every time you land. It’s a barely functioning mess.
That’s not all…
Loading screens don’t hold up either. They all tediously long and make jumping into the game for a quick run unpleasant. The game isn’t loading anything special either. The game has a decently sized city to generate, but considering the graphical fidelity, I don’t understand what’s going on under the hood. For the most part, textures are nasty, character models look disturbing and colours are garishly off-putting.
One of the key draws to classic Crazy Taxi is listening to Offspring blare out some classic 90’s rock. Taxi Chaos on the other hand presented me with the most flaccid menu music I’ve ever heard and then, for reasons I simply cannot fathom, layered it over the entire game. On a loop that lasts maybe 30 seconds. If the inevitable heat-death of the universe had a sound, it would be this – a slow, droning, uneventful whimper followed by silence as I slowly remove the power cable from my Switch.
Of course, the sound effects aren’t much better. Everything either sounds too quiet or pathetically weak. I was under the impression I was driving a petrol-guzzling, nitro-fuelled, death-taxi, not an electric scooter. The game has voice acting, but it’s poorly delivered and way too frequent with not enough variation. This is all compounded into an auditory mess because the sound mix is all kinds of wrong. It sounds as unfinished as it looks and runs.
Are there any redeeming features?
Now that all of that is out of the way, how does it play? At its core, Taxi Chaos could actually be a mediocre Crazy Taxi clone. The loop is: pick up a passenger, zip to the required drop off as quickly as possible, repeat. You do this until the timer hits zero and then see where you ended up on the leaderboards. Each customer will reward you with a different amount of money and also refill your timer by a certain amount. There is some strategy involved when it comes to deciding who to pick up, but the real skill is learning the city layout. The city is fairly large and has a decent number of shortcuts. Learning where everything is, and which shortcuts to take, is vital to success.
The game has three game modes – Arcade, Pro and Free Roam. Arcade is the default mode. I spent most of my time here, and in my opinion, this is the most enjoyable of the lot. Pro removes your navigational systems, which means you need to know where every location on the map is, and how to get there, unaided. I didn’t have the desire to learn the layout to this extent due to the myriad of performance issues. Free Roam removes the timer and just lets you play. Ideal for learning the city if you really wanted to go deep.
There are a number of unlockables in Taxi Chaos, the most important ones being the taxis themselves. Unlocking them requires you to do the arduous task of actually playing the game, but to the game’s credit, each taxi does feel different to control. There are also achievements to unlock as well as side quests and collectables to, well, collect. These add some incentive to play but don’t do anywhere near enough to offset the overwhelming number of negatives.
I reached out to the developers of Taxi Chaos and asked about a patch. There is one coming which is supposed to fix performance as well as add in new music among other tweaks. As of writing, there is no confirmed release date for this patch on Switch, and I can only review what I have, not what I have been promised.
As a result, I cannot recommend Taxi Chaos to anybody. The core gameplay might be OK, but everything else is beyond unacceptable. If and when a patch drops I might look into Taxi Chaos again. Until then, don’t buy this. Crazy Taxi deserves better.