The Google Play Store is full of games like Taxi Drift. The icon is attractive, the game looks great in the screenshots, and the gameplay is reminiscent of a classic. It’s free to download, so there’s nothing to lose. Except like so many other titles found in the store, it’s immensely frustrating, and something of a missed opportunity.
Experienced, long time arcade gamers will no doubt be familiar with Crazy Taxi. If you never played it in the arcade or on a games console, then there is a great version available for mobile. Play it, it’s enormous fun. Taxi Drift takes the basic idea of Crazy Taxi – pick up fares and get them to their destination in double quick time – and adds in a drift mechanic.
Skidding around corners is made easier by a handbrake, and it’s easy to get your passengers screaming as you hurtle around the streets. Keep scaring them though, and they’ll hop out of the car, and you’ll lose out on any money. Deliver them safely and you’ll earn some cash. It’s all very familiar, but suitably different to make the game worthwhile.
Well, it would be if it were more polished. Instead, Taxi Drift is a bit of a mess. The first problem is the city around which you drive is utterly deserted, aside from a few willing passengers. Not one other car is on the road, which makes the whole experience a little lonely. However, there is one advantage of the game being set in a ghost town: you don’t constantly crash into other cars.
This would happen a lot, because the taxi is ridiculously unresponsive. Annoyingly, Taxi Drift relies on tilt controls for the steering, and it’s almost useless. There’s no steering wheel graphic to show how much you’re turning, and because the car understeers constantly, it’s impossible to know if you’re having any effect on its direction. Taxi Drift is crying out for a slider control. While sorting out the handling, the developers should sort the brakes too. They’re obviously past their best, and it needs several miles to pull up alongside a waiting fare.
What about the drifting? Sadly, it’s more like spinning. A tug of the handbrake and a twist of the phone usually results in the taxi swapping ends, rather than gracefully sliding round a corner. When you come to a halt, the rubbish turning circle makes getting back on the right track a lengthy process. The car may look like a Nissan 370Z, but it handles more like an aging Nissan Cherry. I don’t want realism, I want arcade thrills. The car should handle sharply, stop on command, and accelerate like the Space Shuttle. It does none of these things.
Taxi Drift sounds like a lemon, but it’s not. There’s a lot of potential. The graphics are good, it’s fast and smooth, and the game could be a lot of fun. It just needs some care and attention. The developers have even avoided the temptation to fill it with in-app purchases. There’s no option for upgrading your taxi though, and earning money in the game doesn’t serve much purpose aside from being a high-score challenge. There is the option to play during the day or night, but the only difference is the colour of the sky.
We tried it on the Nexus 5, and it ran very smoothly, but waking the game up did sometimes result in a crash. It’s a free game, so it’s difficult to complain about Taxi Drift too much, but it is a missed opportunity, and it could be fun with a little time spent ironing out the handling, and adding in both another control method, and a few different cars. It’s good for a few minutes in its current form, so pick up Taxi Drift here.