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Crazy Taxi: City Rush races into the App Store

Designed expressly for mobile devices, the sequel to the beloved racing game borrows a page from Temple Run. Is that a good thing?

Crazy Taxi: City Rush manages to look modern and old-school at the same time. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

If there was one game every self-respecting Sega Dreamcast owner had to have, it was Crazy Taxi. The frenetic, freewheeling racer proved so popular, it eventually made its way to the PlayStation 2, the Nintendo GameCube -- and, more recently, Android and iOS.

Say hello to the sequel, which debuts internationally this Thursday. Crazy Taxi: City Rush was built for mobile platforms (iOS first, Android coming later), and it definitely mixes up the formula a bit. Will you like it?

The core idea remains the same: ferry passengers around town as fast as possible, earning bonuses for beating the clock and smashing things up.

However, unlike the original, City Rush relies on one-touch driving controls. Think Temple Run, but in a car. You swipe to change lanes, tap and hold to take corners, and repeatedly quick-tap to brake once you reach your destination.

Though the Crazy Taxi faithful may balk at such a control scheme, I urge you to give it a try. Racing games, especially those played on a small screen, can be a bear to control, to the point where it's easy to get frustrated and give up. In City Rush, it's more about mastering the timing than it is trying just to steer. I found it a lot more fun.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Another controversial move: City Rush is a freemium game. You can play all you want without spending a penny, but if you want to score a bunch of upgrades right away, you have the in-app purchase option of buying game cash and/or diamonds.

Finally, you can sign into your Facebook account, ostensibly to compete with friends -- though I wasn't able to get this working, perhaps because I tested a prerelease version of the game.

Even so, City Rush is a lot of fun, offering what feels like a modern twist on a classic game formula. This is one ride that's definitely worth taking.