Review – Mile High Taxi
One-dev projects are always interesting to tackle. They are the perfect summary of a unique vision, of a single person’s entire dedication towards a project they cherish like a baby. This usually comes at the cost of really long development cycles and very rare occasions in which the game is polygonal, with most famous solo projects being retro-inspired, such as Undertale and Stardew Valley. Today, we’re going to tackle a fascinating project. Manned by Cassius John-Adams, a computer programmer by trade, Mile High Taxi is what happens when you try to bring Crazy Taxi back from the dead, but with a twist. A cyberpunk twist.
Cassius himself describes Mile High Taxi as “Crazy Taxi meets The Fifth Element“, and yeah, I couldn’t have said better myself. It takes the core gameplay from Sega’s classic (keep taking clients to their destinations as quickly as possible before the timer runs out), but instead of having the game being set in San Francisco, or any other generic city locale (just like Taxi Chaos tried to do), the game is set in the future, in a borderline Jetsons-esque city full of immense skyscrapers. Oh, and all cars fly, because of course they do.
I consider this to be a double-edged sword. The positives are clear: the setting is incredibly unique, not only for a Crazy Taxi clone, but any game in genre. Despite the constant influx of cyberpunk-inspired games being released as of late, very rarely do they feature flying cars or the Besson-like skyscrapers seen here. This also allows for some unique gameplay takes. Streets aren’t an issue, for where we’re going we don’t need roads. The focus lies mostly on handling the car’s altitude, and figuring out the level in which your client’s destination is located.
This comes at the cost of Mile High Taxi being much easier than Crazy Taxi. Without the focus on incoming traffic, or the limited amount of asphalt where your car can waltz through, the game becomes quite boring on easier difficulties. The map isn’t that big, and the destinations aren’t that hard to come by. Nothing like driving a passenger to the church in the original Crazy Taxi map, for instance. The game makes up for this with the Sequential Mode, where you are told to drive passengers around in a specific order. This also means that stunts are also gone. Again, no roads, no nonsensical drifting or crazy jumps.
Mile High Taxi tries to make for this with some interesting presentation decisions. Granted, a polygonal game with such a unique visual style from a solo programmer will obviously mean that the game is filled with simplistic models and some, uh, “asset store” vibes, but it’s still a neat game to look at. Not only that, but the game runs incredibly smoothly. Maybe it’s the developer’s background as a programmer, but I haven’t had any crashes, or even slowdowns. Buttery smooth framerates no matter the amount of crap onscreen.
Finally, there’s the sound department, and that actually impressed me a bit. The game is fully voiced, with some surprisingly funny dialogue coming from your boss, who speaks with the strongest Nuh Yohk accent this side of Goodfellas. The music isn’t licensed, but there are some good bangers, including a pop punk tune to kick you in the nostalgic groin, and every passenger is fully voiced, delivering the same kinds of dialogue you would expect from Sega’s 1999 classic.
In short, Mile High Taxi has its flaws, namely in the lack of challenge (unless you play in Sequential Mode) and the occasional visual glitch, but color me impressed: this is one of the best, if not the best Crazy Taxi clone I might have ever played. It makes up for its flaws with its unique setting, excellent performance, and the fact that, at the end of the day, it plays and feels like a Sega arcade from 1999. It is a clone, no doubt about it, but with enough qualities of its own. It stands out from the rest. Mile High Taxi is currently only available on Steam, not exactly the best place for arcade-like play sessions, but I can only imagine how amazing this game must feel on the Steam Deck.
The Fifth Element-esque setting is truly unique, and the game runs shockingly well, but it does suffer from visual glitches and an overall “asset-y” vibe.
The fact you drive a flying car means that stunts are mostly gone. While it controls pretty well, with the exception of reversing, Mile High Taxi feels a lot more quaint.
Both the soundtrack and the voice acting (yep, there is voice acting!) ended up being much better than expected, especially the latter.
Fun Factor: 8.0
It scratches the Crazy Taxi itch, which is the best thing I can say about Mile High Taxi. Though not as challenging as its source of inspiration, it’s still really fun, with its unique setting making it stand out from other carbon copies of the Sega classic.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Mile High Taxi is available now on PC.
Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.
A copy of Mile High Taxi was provided by the publisher.