Unless you're a Windows Phone owner (and perhaps even if you are), chances are that Grip Games' Jet Car Stunts
didn't really come to your attention until a port of the game was released on Xbox 360
in October 2014. Now, an Xbox One version of the game has been released at a very affordable price with a full 1000G (the XBLA edition had 400G), but is that enough to merit a download? Well, possibly, depending on what motivates you.
Jet Car Stunts Jet Car Stunts
is a racing and platforming hybrid that presents gamers with a vehicle that is part car and part jet. Like many racing games, the car has a turbo feature, but this is even more critical once the car is airborne as it can somewhat control the pitch of the vehicle. The "somewhat" is important here because it takes quite a while to get the control of the car down, but once the controls are conquered, it's rewarding to navigate a tricky roadway. Otherwise, there's only pretty standard racing fare to see here: One button for the gas, one to reverse, and one for a handbrake for tighter turns. Gas is defaulted to the A button and brake to B, but that may feel odd as the triggers typically are mapped for that in racers. Thankfully, buttons can be remapped to whatever is comfortable for the player.
Oh look, a hot air balloon!
In the game, there are three distinct modes of gameplay: Time Trial, Collector, and Platforming. Time Trial consists of running a track as quickly as possible. Platforming also considers speed, but is more about making long jumps by using the jet and minding the use of turbo which, while limited, does get replenished as checkpoints are passed. Collector features tracks where there are several stars strewn about, and the goal is to grab them all. The car in this mode is different in that its controls are way more floaty than typical. This is meant to allow for greater jumps to reach out of the way collectibles, but often leads to frustration as the car spirals away into the ether. Within each game type, there are a variety of tracks to choose from that are grouped into Very Easy, Easy, Medium, Hard, and Very Hard. Within each group, five levels are available. A little math lets us know that each game type has twenty five levels for a total of 75 across the game, which is a substantial amount, especially given the price.
Those pillars of light are collectibles. Good luck reaching them and keeping all your hair.
As with any racing game, how well the game controls is very much key to how enjoyable the game will be. While the controls are generally solid, there are a few hiccups that can and will cause frustration. For one thing, there are occasional frame rate issues, and these are especially evident when trying to restart immediately after a high speed collision. When restarting with frame skip, it's hard to gauge how well the race is going and will often lead to having to burn another restart. It is necessary to be mindful of those restarts, however, as you are only allowed a limited number of them in Platforming mode before having to start over. Another issue that sometimes pops up is that turbo will stay triggered right after a restart. Especially as managing turbo use between checkpoints is vital to succeeding where speed is concerned, it's annoying to watch it all go away when it was never activated in the first place. Also, using up all the turbo right off a restart will probably make a later jump impossible, meaning yet another restart will be wasted. Still other times, the speed of the vehicle seems inconsistent, but there's no gauge or other heads up display to let players know how quickly they're speeding along, so it's guesswork as to whether the jet car is going more slowly than normal or if everything is doing what it's supposed to. Learning how to control the car in the air is also frustrating as one often can't see the platform in the distance that they're supposed to be landing on until they've sailed over it or crashed into the front of it. The game would have benefited, for sure, from more control of the in-game camera or having different camera angles available to choose from. For a car that's supposed to be a jet while in the air, there's a surprising lack of control, and it's handy to keep in mind that the feature is more a glide than free flight as you can't change direction once you're off the ground.
Taking turns at full speed
The achievement list in Jet Car Stunts
looks like an old-school Xbox LIVE Arcade list and with good reason - it's exactly the same as the game's Xbox 360 counterpart. This doesn't make it a bad list, but does feel like something of a missed opportunity as there's much more they could have used the game's 1000G to encourage gamers to do. It's also perplexing given that the studio did bother to not just duplicate the Windows Phone
list when the game got ported to XBLA. The first couple of achievements will come easily - getting a bronze
in a level will come the first time any level is completed and a replay or two of that level should be more than enough to net the silver
achievements, too. Try to leave some room to improve your gold medal time to make earning the achievement for beating a ghost when you already have gold
as easy as possible and then you can turn off ghosts if you find them distracting. There are also achievements for completing all of the Time Trials
all of the Platforming
levels, and all of the Collector
levels. Thankfully, the levels don't have to be completed to any particular standard, as they did in the phone list, making that challenge substantially easier. The remainder of the list is for accomplishing specific feats on specific tracks and all are doable with some practice.
Zigged when you should have zagged
SummaryJet Car Stunts
is not great, though it does have a certain addictive quality. It takes a while to get a hold of the controls, but once you do, it's pretty fun. The achievements aren't easy, but they are obtainable as judged by the fact that just under 10% of those who are currently tracking the game have completed it. The sounds of the game are just car noises, but it really doesn't need more than that. The graphics, while upped from its mobile counterpart, are incredibly bare with no great vistas to see, but it's not that the game is pretending to be Forza
. What we have here is a competent game that doesn't strive to be any more than that. At its heart, it feels like a mobile game - a good time killer. There is some substance here with the multiple game modes and a decent variety of tracks, but nothing to blow anyone away. Without some of the frame rate issues and general irritations noted above, it might rank a little higher, but given the lack of that additional level of polish, the game just falls back into the exceedingly average pile. At $4.99 (or regional equivalent), it's fairly priced and will be worthy of a little gameplay time, but it won't redefine anyone's expectations of the genre or land on any top 10 lists at the end of the year.
The reviewer spent over seven hours checking out the three gameplay modes, though favoring platforming, and unlocked five of the game's twelve achievements. A download code for the game was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.