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VIDEO GAMES REVIEW

Jumaane’s Dreamcast Picks

Crazy Taxi and Virtua Striker 2 2000

By Jumaane Jeffries

Staff Writer

The last Tech issue of the semester is in your hands, and finals are right around the corner -- what are you doing with your time? I suggest you pop in one of these games for the Sega Dreamcast and cast responsibility aside. But then again, you might want to wait for the hazy days of summer to allow these games to turn your brain into mush.

Crazy Taxi

1 player

Driving/Strategy game

Sega, for Dreamcast

Are you in a hurry to get to a destination of excitement? Would you like to get there as quickly and crazily as possible? Then catch Crazy Taxi, Sega’s new driving simulation, and hold on tight. This game, an import from the arcades, is definitely a boost of adrenaline; and that’s an understatement.

Crazy Taxi plays like a racing game with its emphasis on speed and competition with others. However, you have to outpace -- and out-earn -- your opponent with crazy maneuvers, sound strategy ... and outstanding customer taxi service. There are two terrains, Arcade and Original, that are not only graphically lush and expansive, but surprisingly accurate in simulating real urban and suburban environments. Except for the peculiarity of pedestrians running from taxis faster than Sonic the Hedgehog (well, this isn’t quite Carmaggedon), they are extremely consistent.

Your environments are large so there’s lots of room to explore, taking away from the linear feel of the game. Linear, that is, since you don’t necessarily think about changing your strategy from customer to customer. The do-it-now pace accentuates this. As does the soundtrack, which provides that extra rush, to say the least. I never like The Offspring as much as I do when I play Crazy Taxi.

The controls are adjustable and work quite well as they are, except that switching from Reverse and Drive confusingly takes two buttons for each. They’re small flaws that are probably intentional, to add complexity to the numerous crazy maneuvers. The usually awkward Dreamcast trigger buttons are indeed very effective. Otherwise, with its several modes of play and difficulty, and even selectable characters, Crazy Taxi is definitely the one roller-coaster ride of a taxi simulation to get. Besides, is there really anything else?

Virtua Striker 2 2000

1 to 2 players

Soccer

Sega, for Dreamcast

Virtua Striker 2 2000 is Sega Sports’ arcade soccer Dreamcast import. It has many features: almost 40 teams from around the world; six stadium sites to choose from; and several strategy formations. However, it does not come close in intricacy or enjoyment to the illustrious 2K series, and it suffers from its fair share of noticeable flaws.

VS2 can be played in arcade tournament style, where oddly enough each game is played in a half or in normal two-player versus action. You get to play in fields that vary in texture and acoustic quality. That same acoustic quality is only moderately high, and perhaps generic; you don’t get any nationally or culturally unique chants or cheers. However, the graphics are impressive. Although the players don’t exactly fool me into thinking that they’re real (as NFL 2K did), they are endowed with rather realistic movements. And the distinct flags that wave in the audience are a nice touch.

Virtua Striker 2 is perhaps most hampered by its non-intuitive gameplay, in most respects. Random changes in points of view and the athlete you’re in control of can disorient the player at inconsequential points of the game. Far more consequential, however, is the frequency with which unintentional passes are accidentally kicked out of the field of play, or even into a player’s own goal. Finally, the range of techniques are limited to passes, slides, and steady dashes -- far too limited for a serious fan’s soccer game.

Perhaps the “Virtua” name entitles it to get away with some quirky familiar “Virtua” qualities. In this case, such aspects include the anonymity of team members and the various “so close!” replays, accompanied by the trademark cheesy Sega pop music that we (or at least I) have come to know and love. If you’re an absolute soccer layman like myself, play Virtua Striker just for kicks. Hardcore fanatics, however, may want to look elsewhere.