Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator is a game whose title instantly reveals what it will entail. It welcomes players with a colorful description of the city we’ll navigate through. After filling out basic information like our name, company name, and selecting from a limited pool of logos, we’re thrown into a training area. There, we learn the basics of driving, mechanics, and camera perspectives. And that’s pretty much it; we’re off to the races.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

Review Ladies and gentlemen… today, we find ourselves in Barcelona

By placing the game on my list of the most interesting Polish titles, I particularly highlighted its setting in Barcelona. The creators have meticulously digitized the city, details included, though it must be noted, not in its entirety. We’re given access solely to the Ciutadella district (or simply the Old Town), complete with all its characteristic monuments and spots, like the Parc de la Ciutadella with the Catalan parliament or the Catalan Square. The shapes and topography are accurate. However, upon closer inspection, we find practically the same vegetable shops (Mercado de Verduras), burger joints (Delicious Burger), cinemas, theaters, etc., in every corner, making everything seem generic.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

Over 460 kilometers of roads await, and discovering landmark points rewards us with experience points (more on that shortly). It all looks nice, the building models are detailed and crisp, and the landmarks unmistakable, but the immersion is marred by loading elements. Balconies here, hanging laundry or flags there, window blinds elsewhere. It was a common occurrence. Nonetheless, the meticulous assembly of these elements earns Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator a big plus. But if these don’t break your immersion, the FPS drops will. They happen randomly. In one session, the game ran relatively smoothly, only to drop below 20 frames per second from the start in the next. It hurts.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

“You are what you do”

We enter the capital of Catalonia in a rather decent hatchback, from the fictional brand Aphelion, and as the game progresses, we can purchase seven other vehicles with varying parameters. The road ahead is open, we start with enough cash to explore for a long time. But that’s not what the game is about, right? We choose our clients by clicking on a green icon on the map. The GPS then directs us to the task (though not always accurately). These supposedly have difficulty levels, but honestly, I felt no difference between easy and hard, apart from the distance. On the way, the passenger has a patience level for our actions, but as long as we don’t drive against traffic, run over people, or hit poles, thus canceling the task, I noticed no significant impact. As long as we deliver the client to their destination, they will tip us anyway. On the other hand, sometimes even a perfect ride earns no tip.

Passengers sometimes have requests, like turning on the radio or air conditioning, rewarding us with bonus experience points. Some engage us in conversation, but the interface can be confusing when played on a keyboard, as it’s designed for controller keys, e.g., encouraging us to press the “A” button, which actually means clicking the left mouse button. The fares we charge passengers are also surprising. For the simplest and shortest ride, our character can charge up to 100 euros, ending roughly at 700 without a tip for a standard customer. As our fleet expands, we get the chance to transport more demanding clients or a larger number of them for more money.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

A separate category of tasks includes so-called challenges. Currently, there are only two types: driving a route as fast as possible or without breaking a single rule. It’s worth doing them, as they’re quite easy (especially the latter type), and there’s good money in tips.

As for something that should be a pillar of gameplay, the tasks are, to put it mildly, mediocre. At some point, these tasks simply become boring, there’s no feeling of progress, we don’t, for instance, gain reputation and thereby access to better-paying jobs. Just randomly appearing on the map. Moreover, after a few times, we see that Barcelona is populated with clones, only differing in name and surname. This all ruins the perception.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

You drive like a fool!

The second pillar in such a game would be driving and everything associated with it. Is it any better here? Unfortunately, it’s quite the opposite, overall significantly worse. But let’s go from the general to the specific.

What I like in Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator are the cars we can drive and what we have inside. There are 8 vehicles to choose from, which of course we have to earn. There are small cars, large ones, vans, gasoline and electric vehicles, all from fictional brands.

If we opt for the “first-person” camera, we can manually activate all functions. If we choose another perspective, the aforementioned can be selected from menus and tabs. Thus, we have control over lights, windows, air conditioning, additional systems, or the radio. There’s a lot to it, and it’s meticulously rendered. My only issue is with the radio. There are very few stations and tracks, and they’re bland, generic. Here was a missed opportunity for some Iberian vibes, or a station with instrumental music, something from the classics, or even club music. After all, we spend most of our time behind the wheel, and music could have added much more relaxation; instead, we get blandness.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

And how is the driving, you ask? Here, I’m no expert, I admit. I also played using both a keyboard and a controller. In both cases, I felt that either the driving was jerky and the keys too sensitive (basic car), or the opposite extreme (e.g., Sedna). But what ruins the whole pleasure of exploring Barcelona is the AI of everything and everyone around.

Let’s start with other traffic participants. Here, I felt as if I wasn’t driving in a large European city but in an Indian one from YouTube videos. Cars can stop at green, drive on red, change direction abruptly. Moreover, they can ruthlessly hit us from behind or the side while waiting at lights or performing a correct maneuver. I also had the feeling that many things moved very slowly, creating traffic jams or rudely squeezing in front of others.

Pedestrians are no better. Besides being poorly animated and also massively cloned, some act as if in a trance, others like dodo birds. They can cross at their red light, halfway through decide to turn back on green, or just stand before and just stand. Not to mention errors like floating in the air. A bit absurd for me is also the situation after hitting a pedestrian. First, we simply pass through them, then a black screen appears with a penalty of -200 euros (if playing on hard mode) and that’s it, we continue driving. There are no situations in the game where after doing something wrong we have to stop, or we are stopped!

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

And do at least the law enforcement care that we follow the rules? Well, I’d say it’s mediocre. Policemen can completely ignore running a red light, even if we do it while they’re on the adjacent lane, disregard driving against traffic as they brazenly pass by us, and not

pay attention to significant speed violations. That doesn’t mean they don’t issue fines. But the way they detect offenses is a mystery to me; the notification (which also doesn’t interrupt the drive) usually popped up when I couldn’t see any police on the screen. This leads to, aside from driving with clients, seldom paying attention to the rules, freely driving even on sidewalks.

In Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator, there are no cyclists despite the presence of many kilometers of bike lanes, so nothing prevents their use either.

The driving model and the AI of the surroundings are, after all, the most crucial elements that should shine in, I remind you, a city driving simulator. Yet, aside from nice, well-made cars with lots of options, we’re faced with negative AI and simplified mechanics. At best, I have mixed feelings, stretched as tight as a tarp on a truck.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

Taxi Life – how does progression work?

A separate paragraph deserves the stats of our protagonist and the vehicles. For activities in the game, our character receives experience points and money. The former allows us to develop our character. And that’s okay because we can have less fuel consumption when driving, get more experience points for activities, etc. But the specifics are lacking. Slower, faster, less frequent – that’s too vague.

There’s more to do with money. The basics are maintaining our car through regular fueling, cleaning, and repairs. And for me, once I stopped caring about the rules, repairs happened quite frequently. Moreover, I conducted crash tests. Result: cars can’t be irretrievably destroyed, the bar goes down to the very end, and that’s it, in most cases, I could continue driving and even serve customers. Maybe they paid slightly less, but it wasn’t noticeable. Moreover, considering what I put them through (crashing into walls and poles), the damage on the car wasn’t adequately visible. Just a slight dent in front, a slightly raised hood, and sometimes a spiderweb on the lamp. I also tested some physics. Thus, poles with signs fall as if they were made of matchsticks, but traffic lights are like concrete, unscathed after a head-on collision.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

However, back to spending money. Apart from maintaining the car, we can also customize it. Here, there’s a multitude of options, colors, patterns, and add-ons. There are also parts that enhance the vehicle. We can even swap the gearbox (manual on keyboard feels nice).

A separate issue is the possibility of building your own company. This option unlocks after purchasing a second vehicle. We then have the opportunity to hire an employee, assign them a district sector, and set their working hours. Here, Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator earns a plus. Every worker is capable but lazy, meaning they have one very good trait (e.g., can earn more) and a bad one (e.g., sickly – has days off every week). It requires some careful planning to arrange everything well enough that everyone drives and earns for us. The flow of money in the game is unbalanced overall. A fine for hitting someone? 200 euros, repair a completely wrecked car? 180. A simple task? 400 euros. A challenge? 1000 euros. I never felt the weight of money at any moment.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

As you can see, there’s plenty to do with money, but character development could be more extensive.

If you’ve made it this far, you can guess whether I sang even a fragment of the song mentioned at the beginning. Unfortunately, in its current state, Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator is more cat’s music than anything else.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator – In summary

The game had the potential to become a unique, relaxing experience. As of now, I find that the game is half-made, more of a shell than a finished product. The enjoyment of beautiful views, the superbly replicated district of Barcelona, and the overall immersion is spoiled by the technical state of the game, especially in terms of AI. Perhaps I’m risking the publisher’s ire, but I can’t paint the grass green when I wish I could. The game is like a simulator of the stereotypical taxi driver’s view of the world: everyone else is stupid, only I drive the best.

Pros

  • Meticulously replicated old town of Barcelona
  • Detailed car models and a lot of customization options
  • Engaging employee management

Cons

  • AI of pedestrians, other drivers, and police
  • Optimization (FPS drops, pop-ins, stutters)
  • Clone attack (pedestrian and client models) and their animations
  • Unpleasant driving model
  • Lack of noticeable progress
  • Unbalanced money flow
  • No sense of consequence for breaking the law
  • Simplified mechanics (fines, collisions)
  • Stiff conversations with clients
  • Practically no music on the radio

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator: had potential, but unfortunately, as of now, it is a shell. The interesting idea, meticulously replicated topography of the Barcelona district, and car models are overshadowed by the game's technical state. Mateusz “Kaduk” Kadukowski

4
von 10
2024-03-13T18:53:09+0100
Mateusz "Kaduk" Kadukowski
Mateusz "Kaduk" Kadukowski
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