Soaring to new platforming heights
Back when mobile gaming was just really starting to take off, a little stunt-based racing game called Jet Car Stunts hit the scene in 2010, and quickly captivated gamers with its addictive level of challenge and wildly abstract track designs. Well now it’s a few years later, and developer True Axis has returned to give us the enormous and long-awaited sequel that we were hoping for. And while the end result isn’t perfect, it’s still filled to the brim with rewarding ways to play, exciting new vehicles, and a crazy cool level editor that will quite literally have you gliding on air.
While Jet Car Stunts 2 might seem like your typical racing game at first glance, a “racing-platformer” might be a much better description for what the experience actually entails, as the game is much more GripShift than Wipeout HD. There are a number of different level types that cycle in and out to always keep the gameplay feeling fresh: from time attack courses and full-on races, to an open playing field that tasks you with performing as many different stunts as you can within a given time limit. But my favorite type of levels have always been the quintessential Jet Car Stunts platform levels, in which you quite literally have to hop from platform to platform and deal with all the other obstacles and pitfalls that get in the way as you drive.
As the word “Jet” in the game’s title might imply, your nitrous jet boosters play a big role once again in letting you pull off a lot of the stunt-based maneuvers that will be required of you. Much like its predecessor, Jet Car Stunts 2 features those same rewarding gameplay mechanics that make you feel unbelievably accomplished for earning a gold medal after 50+ retries. Medal requirements are usually determined by level type, and can range from finishing the course in a certain amount of time, to scoring a designated number of points, to completing a platforming level without restarting at a checkpoint.
Another great inclusion this time around is in the tilt-based controls, which actually work surprisingly well, especially in conjunction with the wide array of cars that you’ll control across your platform-filled journey. My favorite type so far is a souped-up jet car that you’ll unlock early on in the game, which functions more like a plane than a car, and allows the developer to experiment with some even larger challenges and monstrous gaps in the road. However, sometimes the on-screen interface can be a little distracting, as it always displays a large green box over your car with lines and meters that help you gauge your jump distance and tilt, among other things. The geometric graphics are a decent step up from the first game, but they’re still nothing you’ll want to write home about.
Jet Car Stunts 2 features a massive amount of levels that will keep the experience going well after the fuel in your nitro tank has begun to run dry: 120 of them to be exact. But when you take into account that each level has its own Easy, Medium, and Hard version for you to get a gold medal in, then that more or less rounds the total up to a whopping 360. The Hard difficulty tier offers an especially brisk challenge, with platforming formations so sadistic that they may as well be considered brand new levels in their own right. In fact, the game probably could have even done with fewer levels in some parts, as you can only complete so many of them before things start feeling a little too similar later on in the game.
The first 10 levels can be played completely for free (or 30, if you count the Medium and Hard variations of these initial 10), while an in-app purchase of $4.99 will net you everything the game has to offer, including the fantastic level editor mode. If you don’t want to spend that much, you can still unlock smaller chunks of levels in various incremental $0.99 purchases. A word of caution though for those who plan to try before they buy: I initially played through the 10 free levels before making the $4.99 purchase to unlock the rest of the game, and the transaction somehow wiped away all of the medals I had already earned, forcing me to start all over from scratch.
When you’ve had your fill of the many levels that Jet Car Stunts 2 has to offer, then you can always head on over to the level editor mode or try your hand at the hundreds of user-created tracks. The level editor in particular is an especially nice touch, as it’s not only one of the more innovative setups that I’ve personally ever seen, but it’s also insanely easy to learn. All you do is pick which car you want to use, and then start driving however you’d like into the vast emptiness around you. Of course, that emptiness automatically gets filled in with a road and other walls and obstacles according to how you’re driving, with quick hot-key buttons that let you start or stop laying down track to create some bigger jumps, as well as a rewind button in case you wanted to rethink that last death-defying turn.
While Jet Car Stunts 2 might not be the best physics-based “racing platformer” around, it certainly does a darn good job of trying, and lives up to the renowned Jet Car Stunts name in spades. Even though the graphics and the interface leave a little to be desired, the game makes up for its slight shortcomings but piling on the fun gameplay, the exciting new cars, and of course, the incredibly unique level editor. If anything, it will ensure that you’ll never hit the road again without a full tank of jet fuel in tow!