Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review: A rough ride around Barcelona

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review

After taking on the world of rail simulation with Train Life, developers Simteract have now turned to the world of taxi driving with Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator. Putting you behind the wheel of a Barcelona cab, the game tasks you with getting passengers to their destination quickly and safely, all while keeping them happy.

So does the game deliver the ultimate taxi driving experience? Or is it an uncomfortable drive? Let’s find out in our Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator review.

City driving

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator hands you the keys to your very own taxi in Barcelona. As well as driving passengers around the city yourself, players can also run their very own taxi company in the Catalonian city.

Hiring drivers, buying cars, and assigning rides are the name of the game in Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator, and that’s before you’ve even hit the road. Once you’re behind the wheel, the challenge really begins.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review
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Set in a 1:1 recreation of Barcelona, Taxi Life has a nice mix of wide, open avenues and tight, authentic alleyways. Barcelona's road layout has been authentically recreated, even including tramways running through the middle of the road.

There are also plenty of AI cars and pedestrians presenting obstacles as you drive around the city. Combined with random road closures due to roadworks or traffic accidents, this keeps players on their toes.

Unlike many other driving sims, Taxi Life's Barcelona feels like an immersive, living, breathing city. This feeling of immersion also extends to the passengers in your taxi.

Picking up fares

Taxi Life features immersive passenger interaction like no other driving sim. When picking up fares, you can sometimes make special interactions with your passengers.

Instead of sitting in silence during a drive, Taxi Life's passengers speak to your driver's character. They'll ask you questions about the city, request the radio be turned on or off, or even ask you to speed up or slow down to suit their requirements.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review
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The fun really begins if you’re lucky enough to get a special request passenger. Some passengers are in a hurry to cross Barcelona, giving you a licence to speed through the streets to get them there on time. Just be careful not to hit any pedestrians on the way, as that instantly fails the current mission.

Taxi Life’s unique passenger interaction feature is a welcome addition to the game. Never knowing what sort of interaction you’ll have every time a passenger gets in the car keeps things fresh. However, making adjustments inside the car to meet their requests isn't always easy while on the move.

A rough ride

While Taxi Life features a stunning recreation of Barcelona and a novel passenger interaction system, the game is fundamentally flawed. Despite making the city more immersive, the AI is a big letdown.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review
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AI drivers have a habit of driving into each other or you at any point without warning. These traffic collisions block the road, preventing you from delivering passengers in a timely manner. The AI also stops randomly in the road for no reason, causing even more collisions and damaging your car.

The AI pedestrians are even worse. City walkers constantly cross in front of you without warning, only to change their minds halfway across the street and turn back. This leads to you sometimes hitting them and failing your current mission.

On top of that, pedestrians wander out into the street at random points, including at traffic light-controlled intersections even while your light is green. Again, this leads to the inevitable collision, which costs you valuable time and money.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review
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Dealing with the maniacal traffic and suicidal pedestrians detracts from what makes Taxi Life stand out. Every drive fills you with anxiety about what will block the road next.

The AI isn't the only issue with Taxi Life, however.

Laggy driving

Despite simulating a full city, Taxi Life suffers from extreme lag issues. At points, the game feels incredibly smooth and responsive before flipping at a moment’s notice.

When the issues begin, the entire game freezes, causing major issues for players. When we tested the game, it took multiple sessions for the freezing to appear. When it did, the game would freeze for up to a minute.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review
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There were also points where the street ahead failed to load correctly before reaching it, causing AI drivers to disappear into the void. This was a rare occurrence, admittedly, but it can still be potentially game-breaking.

Minor issues with wheel support also limit the gameplay. If your wheel has limited buttons, you have to use a keyboard to operate the windows, radio, and even windscreen wipers, with mixed results. Disappointingly, the console versions don't offer wheel support at the time of writing.

Opening the various car menus doesn’t stop the car, making it easy to crash into traffic while you’re busy trying to enable the right cabin light for your passenger. That’s if the option works, with some requiring multiple clicks before activating.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator Review
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Despite Taxi Life having cruise control, there’s no indication of how it works, so you'll either speed or crawl through the streets trying to figure it out. Considering you’ll be using it a lot in the city, it would be better if the cruise control was mapped to a wheel button rather than hidden away in a menu.

Overall, Taxi Life suffers from many issues. It's a shame because there is still a quality game waiting to break through if you look past them.

Potential perfection

Taxi Life is currently facing a tricky drive. But if you take the game for what it is, it’s a solid driving simulator. The cars you drive are incredibly detailed, featuring fully interactive controls, authentic audio, and a realistic dashboard.

Driving, for the most part, feels smooth, although you may need to adjust the steering, throttle, and braking sensitivity when you first start out to get things to your liking.

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Considering the game has been developed by a relatively small team, Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator is a fun experience, even with the bugs and glitches. There’s nothing that can’t be resolved with a patch, with the developers already noting the biggest issues and promising to fix them as soon as possible.

The game is arguably one big patch away from potential perfection, and we can’t wait to return to Barcelona once the first fixes start rolling in.

Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator
Taxi Life: A City Driving Simulator shows a lot of promise, but needs a lot of work to beat the traffic. Clunky AI and an unoptimised environment ultimately let down an otherwise solid driving simulator.
6 out of 10

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