IGN Review of London Taxi Rush Hour
Publisher Destineer is nabbing up all the best racing licenses in the videogame business. First, it rocked our world with Classic British Motor Racing and now it's come along with its epic follow-up, London Taxi Rush Hour (which successfully steals keywords from the titles of most major arcade racers). The project, developed by trusty Data Design, proudly boasts a front-end interface strikingly similar to just about every other Data Design-created Wii project, but that's to be expected. And as its name suggests, London Taxi endeavors to capitalize on the successful formula of Crazy Taxi with speedy car challenges set to the backdrops of a wide-open city. There's is just one little problem: it's terrible. In fact, the word 'terrible' pleaded with us not to use it as a descriptor of this game because it felt that it wasn't powerful enough a statement. It suggested we instead use the newly-hatched term terri-awful-crap-no-no.
London Taxi Rush Hour is frankly a blatant Crazy Taxi rip off, but lacks the tight controls, speed and finesse of the classic arcade racer. It's also pretty short on gameplay modes -- just three, ranging from timed driving, money challenges and the "perfect day," in which you must compete as many consecutive missions as possible without failing. Regardless of mode, the primary goal is more or less the same: pick up a fare and drive them to a location. Sure, it's shallow, but on some level so was Crazy Taxi. There is a big difference in quality between the two projects, however. Indeed, Crazy Taxi pleaded with us not to -- well, you get the point.
As soon as you start a challenge in this poor excuse for a racing game, you will spot its endless shortcomings. And when you wrestle with the controls, you'll discover even more. We wanted to like the title, but there's no getting past the overgrown deficiencies in graphics and maneuverability. Take, for example, the racing environments. Not only are the cars and buildings primitively blocky and smeared with putrid textures, but collision detection is shabby at best and the car physics -- despite using the Havok engine -- are bouncy and unrealistic. Worst of all is the framerate, though. London Taxi stutters along at a despicable fluidity -- we're guessing sub-15 frames per second on a regular basis; we're talking slideshow levels of motion. How this can be given the ugly aesthetics is beyond us.
You hold the Wii remote classic style to control the cars and they respond loosely and heavily to your commands. This, coupled with the sluggish framerate, makes precision driving a near impossibility and you will therefore too often find yourself slamming into cars, catching on walls and gates and generally weaving around like a madman in an attempt to make your fares. Additionally, the developer has mapped some gestures, like boosting, to the Wii remote; push forward while driving and you'll gain a speed burst. However, when you attempt to boost you may sometimes accidentally steer your car off course in the process, effectively speeding into a barrier. Simply, in Crazy Taxi, the obstacles were in-game, but in London Taxi the game is the obstacle.
Completionists who can look past all of these considerable inadequacies will find some in-level pick-ups -- boxes that instantly clean your cab and attract the eye of customers; clocks that slow time; bulldogs that award points which can be used to buy more cabbies -- that inject a very thin layer of skill into the experience. But as we've said, even those who seek to unlock all of the cabs in the game will need to venture through a very clunky, unpolished, uninspired and downright boring racer to do so. What's the point?
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