Friday, January 3, 2014

IOS Spotlight #38: Jet Car Stunts 2

Title: Jet Car Stunts 2
Developer: True Axis
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: Free ($4.99 for all content)
I'll be honest. The first Jet Car Stunts was my first IOS game, one of the few that has never left my device, and the sequel was probably one of my most anticipated titles. So my opinion might be somewhat bias. But then again Jet Car Stunts 2 deserves the praise; it's a fast challenging platfomer that improves on the original in every way.
Despite outward appearances, Jet Car Stunts 2 is not a racing game. You may control a vehicle and drive fast, but outside of the handful of Racing levels, the game is a high-speed precision platfomer with rocket cars. In the majority of the game's levels, the goal is to reach the finish with as few retries as possible, a goal easier said than done when the track consists of massive gaps, loops, gravity-defining turns, grind rails, narrow hoops to pass through, and more. There are a number of different vehicles to play as, from the familiar physics of the original vehicle to the Jet, which is more plane than car, and each needs to be learned and mastered if you want to perfect every level. You control your vehicle with a combination of tilt controls and on-screen icons; now I know some IOS gamers are wary of tilt controls, as am I, but the controls in JCS2 just feel finely tuned and precise. If I crashed or overshot the track, it was never because of the controls but because of my own performance. 
Besides the Platforming tracks, there are also Time Trials where you must use your boost and beat circuit times, Race tracks where you race AI-controlled vehicles, and Tony Hawk-esque Stunt arenas where you're given free reign to pull off the best stunts and grinds for high scores. Technically, the game offers 120 levels, but the number is closer to 220 because all the Platforming tracks and Time Trials have alternate Hard versions that add tougher obstacles and bigger gaps. Aside from all this content, you can also make and share your own tracks in the level editor. 
Now I know some of you may be worried that a premium game is getting a free sequel with IAP, but on the contrary, True Axis's IAP scheme is one of the fairest and most reasonable I've seen. You get a handful of levels to try for free, and then the full game is $4.99, or you can simply purchase different level packs suited to what interests you. If you don't like time trials or never plan on using the editor, then only buy the platforming levels. There's no freemium elements like currency or timers here.
In my opinion the only major flaw is the level editor. Now the editor is fun to use. You drive and the track forms beneath your vehicle; you can create gaps and loops and big drift-friendly hairpin turns. I spent two hours just messing around. But the key words there are "messing around." It just seems too difficult to make something that feels planned out and intended. However I will say this is the first editor that becomes easier to use once you become a better player. I think once I've gotten better at playing the game, the true depth of editor will be revealed, but for people who just want to jump in and create a complex track or create something with some artistic vision in mind, it will feel too hard and random. Thankfully the developers are listening to player suggestions and plan to improve the editor.
Jet Car Stunts 2 is a huge improvement and evolution over the first game, not just in sheer content but in variety and challenge as well.. Everything that made the first Jet Car Stunts so satisfying is back, and bigger than ever before. You can download the game for free.

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