Thursday, July 21, 2016

Jet Car Stunts Review (XONE)

Jet Car Stunts is another indie game where you’re just left with questions without answers.  Why was it built?  Who is the audience supposed to be?  How can this game actually cost real human money?  It is a vehicular racing / time trial game sort of like Trials but closer to Trackmania since it’s 3D, but it has neither the tight controls or flawless level design of those games, which means it is just totally awful to actually try to play.  Jet Car Stunts is a total waste of time.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Grip Digital
  • Developer: Grip Digital, True Axis
  • ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
  • Genre: Racing
  • Pros: Pretty skyboxes
  • Cons: Bad controls; ugly visuals; not fun
  • MSRP: $5

Jet Car Stunts has you driving a sort of F1-looking car with a jet boost through a series of time trial courses that were all built floating in mid-air for some reason.  The courses have jumps and loops and all sorts of crazy stuff and navigating them requires proper management of your speed so you can actually clear gaps and land where you want to.  You have only limited control over your car while in the air, so you had better hope you judged your speed correctly while on the ground because you’re at the mercy of nature while in the air.  Your only objective is to get to the end of each course as fast as possible.

This all sounds just like a Trials game, but it is closer to Trackmania since it is also a 3D racer.  The difference, however, is that Jet Car Stunts has shockingly terrible course design.  Trials and Trackmania work so well and are so addictive because they have perfect and responsive controls, but also clever track design that lets you know what is coming up just in the nick of time so you are prepared for it.  Trials and Trackmania also generally have a fair bit of wiggle room so that you don’t have to be absolutely perfect to get through each course. 

Jet Car Stunts, on the other hand, has awful, loose, floaty controls and the course designs require absolute precision – which the controls obviously can’t provide – in order to even finish them (forget about setting good times).  It becomes a grueling exercise in trial and error and frustration that wears thin extremely quickly.  Trials and Trackmania are also definitely about trial and error too, but you actually feel like you’re in control and that the courses are fairly designed.  There is a sense of skill growth and satisfaction in Trials or Trackmania.  You don’t feel that way in Jet Car Stunts.  You just feel frustration and anger because it isn’t any fun.

Jet Car Stunts features very simple graphics made up largely of huge chunky polygons like the Super FX chip from the SNES is running it.  It is definitely distinct looking, but also kinda ugly.  The backgrounds are all just big skyboxes, but I have to admit I rather like them.  They’re usually colorful and pretty.  The sound is totally forgettable, though, with bland engine sounds and music that may as well not even be there. 

Jet Car Stunts might be an okay game in a world where Trials or Trackmania don’t exist, but they do exist which makes the flaws here really, really stand out.  Even at the cheap $5 asking price there is no reason to play Jet Car Stunts.  It is bad.  It is ugly.  It is frustrating.  Play Trials Fusion or Trackmania Turbo instead.