Free-to-play games can be hard to get right. They can either block customers from playing until they pay up or give them too much, making the grinding easy and fun which kills any reason to buy anything. The free to play approach on Sonic Jump Fever and Crazy Taxi: City Rush couldn’t be more different. Sonic Jump Fever is all about the high score by having you follow your Facebook friends and compete with them on the leaderboards. Sadly, the only way to get the best scores is to have that one rare chao that kills all of your enemies, Use your hard-earned in-game currency on items like power ups and more powerful characters, and have an energy bar that depletes super fast.
All of this forces you to pay-to-win, requiring you to pony out dough just to compete with your friends. This may be a free to play game, but I’ve spent $14 on Sonic Jump Fever. Curse you Sonic Stadium’s Adam Tuff and your super-high scores! In Crazy Taxi: City Rush, the “fare” is much more fair and just a better game all around. Read on for why this is one of the better ways to make a free to play game.
While Crazy Taxi: City Rush does have leaderboards, it’s not what the focus of the game is about. This is the good kind of “free to play” game where levels are progressive and the grinding comes from purchasing and upgrading your ride with virtual cash so you can beat more difficult levels. You do this by playing the main game in a variety of different game modes. The main one being a slightly story-based mode where you are given jobs by former Crazy Taxi drivers like Gena and B.D. Joe. You can also earn bronze, silver and gold medals through different fares, drive a tank once a day for fun destruction play as a celebrity driver for bonus cash or just go around each city to build up your cash stash and earn better upgrades and designs for your cab.
This is the good kind of “free to play” game
Also like Sonic Jump Fever is a “gas meter” that drains after a few plays. However, it refuels faster than the energy bar in Sonic Jump Fever and by the time it drains, you will have had a 15-20 minute session playing the game. It lets you play the game in bursts without getting tired of it. Sadly, there’s no microtransaction to make the gas meter fuel up faster. In fact, the only thing you can purchase is bundles of cash or diamonds. no “double cash bonuses” or purchasing cars separately. I think Hardlight’s missing out on some “crazy” money by not offering these extras.
“Okay Shigs, we get it. It’s better at the FTP aspects, but how does it play?” It plays….kinda like Crazy Taxi! Well, in a much more “made for touch screen” kind of way. While there are three cities currently in the game (with a fourth on the way), they are not quite open world. You can select a passenger or game mode from the city map and do a ridethrough there. Once you pick up a passenger, you follow the arrow to their destination. Here, it plays slightly like Sonic Dash or Temple Run. Your taxi drives automatically and you can switch between several lanes by tapping your finger left or right. Sometimes you’ll have to drift onto another street and you do this by holding down on the left or right side depending on where you are turning. Also, there’s a boost bar on the bottom right corner of the screen to give you a quick burst of seed and it lets you smash through traffic without affecting your speed. This can also be upgraded with the cash you earn. Once at your destination, you need to rapidly tap the screen to come to a halt. It gives you that classic Crazy Taxi feeling while controlling in a completely different manner. One of the nicer touches is that you can play this in both landscape and portrait mode. This way you can hold the game in the way that’s most comfortable for you.
It gives you that classic Crazy Taxi feeling while controlling in a completely different manner.
The game is good at not grinding out your cash too slowly. I’m on the second island and it feels like the game is going at a decent clip. I have spent five bucks on a sale for a new cab and some extra dough, but the game never makes you feel like you HAVE to go that route at any time. You can also earn cash faster by buying decorations for your ride such as new exhausts, a new top for your hood or trunk, spoilers and a ton more. If you don’t want to spend cash, you can win these items by opening trunks with random treasure inside. You earn this when you drop off passengers and they leave items behind such as a cone or cap. You never feel stuck in the game. If the story-based mission is too hard, there’s always some easy fare to find to boost your cash flow and trick out your cab. It’s a great “carrot on a stick” design without the feeling of being ripped off.
My only major gripe is in the soundtrack, in that there is barely one there. There’s only two or three songs that play over and over and it can be grating. Luckily, theres an easy fix in the options menu. Here, you can make a playlist called “Craxy Taxi” and just add your own soundtrack instead. I put in a few songs from Offspring’s Greatest hits along with tunes from thier last album. It’s all Offspring for me!
I do have one more nitpick. While there are a ton of modes in the game, none of them allow to to explore the different cities in classic arcade style. This means each location just gives you a few passengers and then that’s it. Either “mission accomplished” or “game over”. I’d like to have unlimited customers where the bonus timer is less and less and I get a licence grade like in the original. Sadly, this more open world style is not in the game yet, but Hardlight does tend to make big improvements to their games over time so who knows?
Is Crazy Taxi worth a free download? “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, YEAH!” The game is fun, has that great “carrot on a stick” grinding that few free to play games do right and keeps the fun and excitement of the original while offering tons of different modes and a completely new approach. That said, you’ll definitely want to change the soundtrack and there are some things I wish I could buy (like cabs or quicker refueling) but can’t. (You’re leaving good money on the table Hardlight)! It’s a really fun mobile game that fans of the original Crazy Taxi will enjoy.
- Easy controls
- Can be played in portrait or landscape mode
- Doesn’t rip you off with over-monetization
- Tons of different modes, taxis and cabbies
- Customizable soundtrack
- Original soundtrack only features 2-3 songs
- Game needs more micro-transactions if its going to be profitable
“In keeping with the spirit of the original while offering something new.”