Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

The opportunity to try on the role of a cab driver is available in a variety of open-world games, but there is practically no separate cab driver simulator.
Probably because it is difficult to make the gameplay in such games exciting enough for the project to gather a large audience. The authors of Taxi Life decided to take a risk – their new game offers to work as a cab driver in Barcelona, one of the largest cities in the European Union, where life is boiling, everyone has to go somewhere, and we only have to find clients.

The developers called the main feature of Taxi Life a 1:1 scale recreation of Barcelona. I haven’t been there myself, but I “walked” around the capital of Catalonia with the help of Google maps to compare it. Almost everything really looks the same in the game as in reality: there is the Arc de Triomphe, the Güell Palace, and the cable car – many famous sights are present. The streets and roads are drawn differently, but in some areas I was impressed by how similar to the real ones the authors tried to make them. For example, there is a long parking lot of bicycles near the old monument to the mayor of Barcelona, and in the game they are arranged just like in life. Sights have become collectibles in Taxi Life – they are marked on the map, and when you interact with them, you unlock small mini-stories.

We play as a visiting cab driver, who after a little training is immediately ready to get to work. When you open the map, you see a lot of green people on it – these are people who need your services. Orders differ in complexity, duration of the trip and the amount of money you can earn, but at first there is no point in choosing – you agree to everything. Here you can’t just drive around Barcelona and pick up whoever you want – first you have to choose a client on the city map. Conveniently, after the trip is over, the game immediately offers you to mark the next person on the map, so you don’t have to open the menu.

When you’re not driving anyone, you can behave any way you want on the road: run a red light, swerve into oncoming traffic, crash into other cars, and so on. If a police car is around and notices violations, you will automatically get a ticket, but they take so little money that you don’t have to worry about it. Even if you hit a pedestrian, for such a violation will take away only a hundred euros – you can survive, the next trip will cover the costs.

But when there is a passenger in the cabin, it’s a different matter. The client notices every mistake you make, and what you do depends on how full his patience scale is. Delayed on the crosswalk – his mood will be spoiled. You cause an accident, he won’t like it. And if you suddenly hit a pedestrian, the trip will immediately end. The number of mistakes depends not only on whether you get to your destination, but also the tip. In addition, you can earn bonus experience points for clean driving – for their sake you even try not to exceed the speed.

Damage to the car is also undesirable because the appearance of the car is important to the passengers – the amount of the tip depends on it too. Luckily, you don’t need to look for service stations and car washes – there are numerous garages all over Barcelona where you can access your taxi fleet. There you can fill up the tank, and fix all the damaged parts, and make it look nice. And when you earn extra money, you can replace the spoiler, change the “Taxi” sign on the roof, add backlighting or repaint the body. You can also change the interior: choose a new upholstery, decorate the gearbox lever and put a figurine on the dashboard. But the options are not enough – you won’t be able to create the cab of your dreams.

However, that’s not the most important thing you do in the garage. By completing orders, interacting with customers and searching for attractions, you earn experience and unlock points that can be spent on upgrades in the garage. Reduce fuel consumption, slow down body pollution, unlock more profitable orders, reduce fines – all passive perks are useful, although they seem strange and make the game unrealistic. One of the perks gives more experience when searching for landmarks – I recommend unlocking it first.

Also, over time the garage becomes your mini-company – as soon as you buy a second car (it happens quite quickly), the “Management” menu is unlocked, where the player hires drivers, assigns them to free cars and specifies in which neighborhood and in what time period they should work. All chauffeurs have positive and negative qualities – someone, for example, works longer than others, but wastes more fuel or crashes into something more often, which causes him to spend a lot of money on repairs. You can’t call this element of the game deep – it’s just an additional way to earn money for new cars and their tuning.

This is where the list of interesting features of Taxi Life ends, and it will be easy to understand those who find it short. Customization is poor, building your own cab empire doesn’t seem like an exciting process, and all trips follow the same script – it’s just that some take longer than others. The only question is what else could have been added here. Despite the weird passive perks and ridiculous penalties, the game tries to be more or less a realistic simulator, not something like Crazy Taxi. So the gameplay here is exactly what I expected: you drive passengers back and forth, earn money, some of which you spend on car repairs and refueling, and eventually you can afford new cars and decorations for them.

I got exactly what I wanted, so I stayed in Taxi Life for a few days, doing mostly routine. But this routine was pleasant: the city is beautiful, the passengers rarely distract you or demand something, and the control is arcade and convenient. Quite quickly you start to memorize streets and turns, and at what speed and where you can drive – you become a real Barcelona cab driver, who rarely looks at road signs and knows the city like the back of his hand. And when you get enough points for a full ride, you stop paying attention to the damage and cleanliness of the car, only occasionally going to the garage.

Taxi Life is easy to recommend to those who want to play a classic cab driver simulator – just drive around the city, take orders and immediately move on to the next client after the next trip. Only it is desirable to wait for patches that correct the behavior of pedestrians and other drivers. If you want something more, like new mechanics, various orders and extensive customization of the taxi fleet, then you’ve come to the wrong place. The name of the game doesn’t deceive you – it’s really the life of a cab driver without unnecessary embellishments, and not everyone will like it.