I have a love-hate relationship with taxis. I find them to be extremely useful in times where a car or bus is unavailable, but they tend to be late, slow, and overpriced. The other day, I thought to myself, “Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps the life of a cab driver is a lot worse than I think?” The obvious way to find out for myself was to try the unbelievably realistic New York Taxi Simulator.
Set against the epic backdrop of Manhattan during rush hour, you are an honest taxi driver tasked with transporting the busybodies of the city to their destinations. While most games would take the time and effort to provide a compelling and enriching back story for your character, usually involving the death of a parent and something about the American Dream, New York Taxi Simulator instead throws you right into the driver’s seat from the beginning. It truly allows you to decide who your character is and why they are a cabbie.
So I began cruising around, searching for a prospective fare. After a few minutes of narrowly avoiding collisions while I got to grips with the unforgiving controls, I finally managed to find one. “I’m in need of a classic ride”, he says to me. I’m not too sure what that means, but a snoop around the help menu informs me it’s a fare where I can prioritise both soft driving and time. That’s good for me, I suppose; I can charge him more. Several minutes and traffic violations later, we have reached the destination. I didn’t even see the man leave the cab but I assumed he wasn’t happy with the ride because he gave me a one star rating, also taking the time to question me on where I got my driving licence. “In a raffle”, apparently.
My next fare was just as bad. This time it’s a “Tourist” ride, which means you have to make several stops throughout the city. I instead thought it’d be a good idea to take the customer through Central Park for the real tourist experience. Of course, in this case the park is just a lazily textured field, and there’s an invisible wall that prevented me from going through there. So I instead had to take the long way round, and began to see the city for what it really is. All the cars were German with regards to both the models and number plates. The roads sometimes switch from right-to-left, and some drivers even ignore the traffic lights. One feature of this city that particularly struck me was how everyone walking along seemed to be male. The remainder of my fare was spent in an existential crisis where I questioned what kind of dystopian society I was living in where women are absent and Germany has a strong influence in America. I conclude that it could be a modern-day sequel to The Man in the High Castle. I finally got my customer to where they needed to be, and they too gave me a one star rating.
My third fare is where things got interesting. The customer requested a “Hurry Up” ride, where I basically had to get to the target as quickly as possible. At this point, I just said “balls to it!” and put my foot down as hard as I could. Speeding along the streets of New York, hitting motorist upon motorist in rapid succession, I got my customer to his destination within the time limit. Boom! – Five star rating.
I have no idea why driving like Mia Thermopolis rewards you better than like an actual taxi driver would, but apparently that’s how things work in the new world order of New York Taxi Simulator. It was at this point I got bored of driving people around and decided to end my misery by plunging my cab into the side of a building. Of course, the game doesn’t actually have any realistic vehicle physics so my taxi just came to a dead-stop at the wall, and yet the masses of NPCs seemed indifferent to this, continuing on with their day and phasing through the car as if it were the ghost-mobile. I screamed and turned it off.
You’d think it would have improved ever since receiving a re-release on Steam, but New York Taxi Simulator is far from entertaining. The missions are a bore and trying to make your own fun results in a disappointing panorama of glitches and Crazy Taxi nostalgia. If this is a true simulation of what taxi drivers endure in New York City, then I’m happy enough taking the bus.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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