Review: Jet Car Stunts (PlayStation 3)
- Release Date (NA): October 7, 2014
- Release Date (EU): October 7, 2014
- Release Date (JP): October 7, 2014
- Publisher: bitComposer Games
- Developer: Grip Games
- Genres: Arcade racing
- ESRB Rating: Everyone
- PEGI Rating: Three years and older
- Also For: Computer, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
404.4 megabytes download combined for the Vita and PS3 version.
The game features the standard “multi 5” languages of English, French, German, Spanish and Italian.
Game Homepage, also features more screenshots
Grip Games sent us a PS3 copy of Jet Cars stunts to review.
The game first appeared on the likes of Android and IOS where it was something of a hit. This version claims to be a full remake of the same, the originals have not been played before this review.
There is a temptation to say something along the lines of “like
GTA Trials but 3d”, however this feels a bit closer to something like micro machines back in the 16 bit era or some of the odder bonus levels/trick sections of Carmaggedon. Though it has its moments it falls somewhat short of those other games named, even if it ultimately ends up somewhat enjoyable. My personal preference for racing games does fall more away from full simulation, vehicle combat being where it tends to end up if left to its own devices.
The game is split into three modes, plus a practice mode for one of those. Each have their own tracks
- You have an assault course type mode called platforming and a practice for it.
- You have a time trial mode (which features ghosts if you want it).
- You have an "adventure" mode where you have to get your car to all sorts of odd places.
Each make for a pretty good example of the “easy to learn, hard to master”. Controls have a heavy arcade lean, mainly by downplaying momentum in favour of a simplified version of it. Personally I like this setup but if you have spent the last 17 years playing Gran Turismo then you may not. This is not to say it is easy if you are going for high scores/low times; if you are doing timed modes, trying to use your allotment of turbo for the section and trying to do it for the laps required then it comes close to replicating that classic "boosting in Burnout" feel. Air control is far harder but the game very clearly wants it to be that way. Modes are of the classic “start with the harder ones locked” persuasion, you unlock the next section (very easy, easy, normal, hard...) by completing the previous one. Adventure mode is the main exception to this in having fewer tracks and missing the unlock stuff.
Does finishing upside down still count as bad when the game expects you to do it?
The platforming levels are usually a series of jumps or tight control sections, usually separated by checkpoints. In the actual mode you get 10 “resets” or three minutes to complete a level, oddly the game will still count it as a reset and keep the timer running if you reset before the first checkpoint. You can always reset the whole level from the start menu but it seems like an odd choice. At first they start out more about just making the jumps, later on you have to try to conserve turbo – you might have made the jump but the next one absolutely requires a third of a tank of turbo, however you now do not have that. Later on they start mixing everything together and sometimes you can even find some hidden shortcuts.
"Jet Car is wings level and cleared for landing"
You will be spending some time with this restart option if you want to get the best times.
Time trials are closest to classic tracks/racing circuits and where the F-zero and Wipeout crowd will feel most at home. They seem designed to mostly keep you at constant, though managed, turbo which is something of a change from the other modes, the beep beep beep sound effect as your gold medal slips away often pushing me to take greater risks. The number of laps is usually just enough that you get the desire to break a controller from a screwup on the second to last lap but temper it with the “just another try” thing. Most tracks were quite open, maybe with a few jumps but other tighter control sections and narrow tracks were sprinkled among them.
"I have a feeling this is not going to end well"
Have you ever gone into some kind of free roam mode of a racing game and spent the time instead trying to get your vehicle into the oddest places you can? Here you are given a mode where you get to do exactly that. You have to collect five flags located in odd places in the level, possibly with a series of jumps to get to even attempt to get the flag in the first place. For the most part most of the flags were located on top of cubes beside the track, my strategy seemed to then be get the car vertical, fire the turbo to get up it and then try to control the descent to land on it (easier said than done, especially as you probably lack turbo boost after the vertical launch).
If you find yourself having gone past a checkpoint with no way back to an earlier section then there is an option in the menu to reset you to an earlier checkpoint.
So near, and yet so far.
The art style, which you can see in the captures throughout the review, seems to be brightly coloured shapes that you find as base shapes in every 3d modeller (cubes, doughnuts, hollow prisms....). Some might call it abstract minimalism, some might call it a throwback to the 16 bit era when we first saw rendered backgrounds like that (the controls seem ripped right out of such an era, though again that is not necessarily a bad thing) and the some that this reviewer finds themselves in would call it lazy. Mind you it is not a painted background so you can often find some interesting shortcuts, frustrating misses or lucky saves from the world geometry. Speaking of geometry your car has a nice habit of cartoonishly exploding into parts when you hit something hard, though a staple of these sorts of games (everything from Line Rider to Trials to N+) it was amusing and occasionally saw me have it happen despite the few extra seconds watching it added to my time.
There were not many options, though nicely it did include one to change your controls.
Interestingly you can also set screen size/field of view, I played most of this, by choice, with huge black bars above and below my screen, despite playing at 720p. Equally despite the resolution and basic shapes it did seem to have a bit on an aliasing problem.
The game features some tutorials in text form, some levels to try basic concepts, a level practice in general and the levels themselves slowly start to introduce different concepts.
There was a bit of slowdown on some levels where cloud effects came in, otherwise it was very tight.
There is no music in the game proper so it is hoped you have another music source if you want to play this. The sound effects are quite fitting though, tyre squeal and the aforementioned "beep beep beep" as the gold medal times slip away being some of the better ones.
The lack of a track creator/editor is something of a missed trick. It might have been hard to use, at least as far as creating a workable track, but if the folks doing stuff to Halo to make a game somewhat similar to this can get it done then it is not a great move. If not competing with Halo editing was not a great move then Trials having a track editor would be near fatal.
There is no multiplayer unless you count ghosts of yourself, your online friends and the online leaderboard. Speaking of online it would always try to get me to sign in to post scores, displaying an error message when such a thing failed and taking a few seconds to get there. When everything else in the game was pretty instant (reset to checkpoint, restart level, select new level...) it was an annoyance.
The PS3 store lists the cross buy version as $7.99. If you have a Vita then it becomes a far more appealing prospect, mainly as this is a perfect waiting for the bus/train/meeting to end game. I can see it having something of a life as a “in the background at a party” game.
Alternatively if you wanted to break someone in gently to the likes of FZero then you could do far worse than choose this. At points the difficulty can be quite high though there is plenty for nearly everybody, however it is very much the sort of thing you can practice at as there are no other racers or random elements to worry about.
+ Nice arcade style car control, time trial and slightly offbeat car game.
+ Quite a few interesting levels, ones that explored aspects of the game engine.
- No multiplayer beyond ghosts or "pass the controller"
- Some odd UI choices.
- No track editor.
More than functional in appearance, if very basic. Audio was good, though it lacked in game music. Some slowdown.
Controls were tight and definitely the "if you crashed then it was your fault", there were quite a few well designed levels and it slowly introduced different concepts with them.
It could live on as a party game, a game you master when waiting for the train or when you have a few free minutes. It will likely not be a several hour session affair though the initial playthrough will probably take a few hours, depending upon skill. The lack of a track editor seriously impacts the long term potential though.
out of 10
(not an average)
It started out life as an Android and IOS game, however it just about dodges the "and it shows" part of that. Tight controls and levels to match (more or less) means it certainly does not count as a bad game, however it lacks the certain something to put it up there with the best offerings.