It feels like forever since the original Jet Car Stunts [$1.99] was released. All the way back in 2009, this arcade racer blurred the lines between a typical vehicular experience and 3D platformers. It was silly, occasionally frustrating, and mostly fun, which is a legacy that Jet Car Stunts 2 [Free] lives up to.
Fundamentally this is the same game you know and love, but with a bunch of new content added on top, and controller support. You might think this is just a standard racing game, but once you actually give it a try it'll probably change your genre conventions a bit, to say the least. Your main objective is to get from point A to B through any means necessary, usually through massive jumps, nitro boosts, and healthy amounts of speed. Each level has a three medal rating scheme as well as a general score system, so you'll always strive to get better.
Even with a set of upgraded visuals, Jet Car Stunts 2 isn't something you'll want to use to show off your device. It's pretty basic at its core, offering up simple visuals that get the job done without getting too flashy. There's also no music -- just the sounds of your engine to keep you company. Having said that, although it's not technically impressive, I absolutely love the abstract, floating design of the game's world. It evokes a sci-fi element that isn't found in most racing games, which makes the Jet Car Stunts series pretty unique. Think "floating Tetris pieces" and you'll have a good idea of what to expect.
This is mostly a silly racer built around fun, so precision isn't really its strong suit. Using the accelerometer is often times an exercise in frustration, and the learning curve is fairly high, due to the fact that you not only need to learn how to perfect your steering technique, but your jump skills as well. Jet Car Stunts 2 isn't just about making sharp turns, it's also about air -- and aiming your car off of a ramp is just as important as anything else. That's right, you'll also have to tilt your car when you're in the air, as well as judge ramps carefully so you don't over or undershoot them.
As a result, Stunts 2 has a pretty high learning curve that will weed out a number of players before they even reach the meat of the game. In fact, the developers even state "WARNING: This game will challenge you" on the game's official App Store description! If you choose to stick with it though it can get extremely rewarding, especially on some of the high octane later levels with split-second decisions to be made.
There is a quick "rewind" button that can take you back to a checkpoint instantly, but you will crash -- a lot. There are also a number of different cars to try, all of which handle differently. Just when you think you've mastered your technique the game switches up your vehicle, and forces you to relearn everything again. It's a tad frustrating but also a hallmark of a rewarding design, because if you put in the time you will come out on top. While the controls can be to blame sometimes, there is another option that can make the game that much better.
But should you choose to go the controller route, I'm pleased to report that it's pretty much flawless. I tested it with a MOGA Ace Power, and immediately after booting it up, everything was automatically mapped. R1 is for acceleration, L1 enacts a nitro boost, and the d-pad of course controls your car. It's like playing a console racer, and depending on the car, you'll be able to turn on a dime. If you ever pick up an MFi controller down the line, make sure you pick this one up.
Jet Car Stunts 2 is free to try with a ton of races available right out of the gate, but some content is locked. Should you spring for all of the IAP available ($4.99 nets you everything), you'll net hours upon hours of entertainment in the form of a whopping 120 events (all with three difficulty settings). In addition to the "from A to B" races that comprise the core set of stages, you'll also get Time Trials, traditional races, and a free style mode.
Out of all of these, free style is probably the most fun, as it mirrors the classic Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series in tasking you with doing as many stunts and tricks as possible. It pretty much encapsulates the game's spirit, and it's fun to just mess around when you have some spare time. There's also a creation tool available (you need to purchase it in some form to keep your maps) that lets you race and share your own tracks.
For five bucks you can grab the complete pack to one of the most fun games on the App Store. It isn't going to offer you high quality visuals that push your device to the edge, nor is it going to push the envelope for racers in general. But if you just want to kill some time trying to get a car from one spot to another and put in the time to learn the ins and outs, Jet Car Stunts 2 is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. It basically feels like Sony's Wipeout for iOS, and that's a great thing.
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