Jet Car Stunts (PC) Review
Not so much?
Jet Car Stunts is a game that, before you know it, that “one more try” was actually half an hour ago and you’re already stuck on a different course. It becomes difficult to really criticse a title that gets gameplay so right, but it’s just a shame that more attention was put into the overall package. That said JCS delivers an entertaining and challenging racer with the right amount of balance that will keep players gaming without wanting to put their fist through the screen.
What it lacks in graphics, it makes up for in “just one more go” gameplay.
My initial reaction upon loading up Jet Car Stunts was pretty much “this is going to be a quick review to write”. Three game modes, no online gameplay, and barely any graphics or artwork in existence. The game looks like someone has made a basic blockout of the car and levels and gone “Job Done!”. What took me longer than expected was the fact that I kept playing it.
I know that you don’t go to smaller independent developed games for state of the art graphics, but Jet Car Stunts really does take the piss with how little effort has gone into the visuals. They’re virtually non-existent. No texturing has been applied at all, the only real detail lies in the low rez skybox and the distant floor which is represented by, again, a low rez map of the world. I could really go on about this, in terms of visuals, JCS is clearly in pre-alpha. Sound is barely worth mentioning either, with some stock noises that could have easily been lifted from a Mega Drive racing game. The fact that this was originally an iPhone/iPad racer goes someway to explaining the very sparse nature of the game, but I’d have hoped that a full release on Steam at £7.99 would have justified a bit more effort.
Gameplay wise? There’s three game modes on offer which isn’t much… time trial, collector and platforming. Time Trial is as you’d expect, Collector is a fiendish exercise in collecting stars that are scattered around the level, usually in awkward places to get to. Platforming takes up the bulk of the game, where a number of tracks (divided into difficulty) must be traversed using your jet powered car. That is to say, a car with a massive jet engine that makes it capable of short bursts of flight.
This is where JCS really begins to shine. The car’s jet engine is vital for making giants leaps across the sky platforms, performing huge arial jumps with the car is a tricky affair that requires a lot of finesse and practice. Air brakes help to control the car mid-flight, but also risk slowing the car down too much that you’ll plummet out of the sky. Added to the mix is the limited amount of fuel that powers your jet. While this is replenished at a handful of checkpoints, careful monitoring and use of the jet is required in some cases, otherwise you’re simply never going to make that big leap to the next platform.
Jet Car Stunts has managed to nail two things that are seriously lacking in many of today’s games. Replayability and difficulty. The game’s “Very Easy” early courses are actually anything but, and patience is required in order to beat every leap, jump and corner. The tracks themselves aren’t overly long, but feature some really challenging segments that’ll keep you re-visiting the previous checkpoint plenty of times. In this respect the game is well balanced, and checkpoints are placed at the optimum distance to avoid any overly grating segments where you’re chewing over long portions of track that you’ve nailed long ago. You’re given a maximum of ten tries before the game demands that you start back at the beginning of the course and, again, this never feels like a chore to do.
Collector mode does get somewhat frustrating. Controlling the car in air is actually extremely tricky and some of the locations of the stars make this mode one that will tear your hair out, while time trial obviously requires you to hone your control of the car to absolutely perfection in order to make your way across the course within the time limit. Multiplayer generally takes the form of racing against a ghost car, which feels isolated and a real shame given the Micro Machines style fun that could be had with four other players duking it out and trying to ram each other off the track.
Jet Car Stunts is a game that, before you know it, that “one more try” was actually half an hour ago and you’re already stuck on a different course. It becomes difficult to really criticise a title that gets gameplay so right, but it’s just a shame that more attention was put into the overall package. That said JCS delivers an entertaining and challenging racer with the right amount of balance that will keep people gaming without wanting to put their fist through the screen.