Crazy Taxi 3 is a score attack game. The player controls one of several taxi drivers in a fictional city, looking for fares and then taking them to their destination in the fastest time possible. The player must perform this while time still remains on an overall gameplay clock. Passengers looking for rides are indicated by an overhead marker that is colored to represent the distance to their intended destination. The color marker ranges from red indicating short trips, to yellow for intermediate distances, and to green indicating long ones. When a passenger is picked up, the player is awarded additional time on the countdown time. Furthermore, a second countdown timer is started, representing how quickly the passenger needs to be at their destination. While a passenger is in the taxi, a large green arrow is shown on the player’s HUD that points in the general direction of the passenger’s destination to help guide the player through the map.
The player can use special “crazy stunt” moves such as drifts, jumps, and near-misses, and consecutive combos of these, to earn extra money from the passenger during the trip. If the destination is reached in time, the player is paid based on distance driven with a possible time bonus based on how quickly the destination was reached. If the passenger’s countdown strikes zero, he/she will exit the taxi without paying and the player will be required to look for another fare. The game continues in this mode as long as time remains on the main clock. Once the clock reaches zero, the game is over, and the player is ranked and rated based on the total earned.
The player character is able to pick up a party of passengers, each having a different destination. The number of passengers in the car multiplies the tip bonuses earned from stunt driving, while the total fare can only be earned once the last passenger is dropped off in time. The game also features a set of mini-games. Crazy Taxi 3 inherits the tradition of mini-games from the Crazy Taxi series. Crazy X consists of three levels, each testing different criteria of skills e.g. Steering, use of Crazy Dash, Crazy Drift, etc. By completing all of level 1, maps of the locations are available on the menu which includes all the destinations and short-cuts. Completing level 2 will provide the player with three more different types of vehicles to ride on: Stroller, Bike, and Carriage. Completing level 3 will allow the player to use any cabbie on any map. Prior to each game session, the player can pick one of several drivers and their associated cars; each car/driver has slightly different performance relating to factors such as speed and turning, that impact the game.
The game consists of three locations, West Coast from Crazy Taxi, Small Apple from Crazy Taxi 2, now set at night, and Glitter Oasis which is a new location for Crazy Taxi 3. Stages are improved graphically and are tightened and updated for full use of the gameplay elements.