Jet Car Stunts is an octane-filled thrill ride

Posted: November 14, 2009 in Arcade, Racer

Amazing adrenaline rush…those three words sum up Jet Car Stunts, a 3D dimensional racer that combines dexterity, brains, and most definitely risk taking. If racing were the only selling point, then Jet Car Stunts would just be another in a long line of games in the category. However, Jet Car Stunts stands out because of the breathtaking tracks that both inspire and frustrate would be drivers. Simply put, Jet Car Stunts delivers a thrill ride that will have you coming back for more.

Often tracks in racing games are the typical twists and turns we’ve come to expect. Jet Car Stunts takes it a new level, or actually altitude, creating a Lego Land full of nooks and crannies high above in the sky. From gravity-defying blocks to ominous-looking hoops with the clouds and sun as your backdrop, this is one game that looks as good as it plays. Visually, the game does a good job with the details. From horrible skid marks to the devastation from head-on collisions, Jet Car Stunts is quite the visual achievement.

The game has two game modes: Platforming and Time Trial. Platforming provides 25 stages categorized into 5 levels of difficulty: Just Learning, Easy, Intermediate, Hard and Impossible. Just Learning provides basic tracks that must be completed before unlocking the Easy level, and each subsequent level of difficulty must be completed before unlocking the next. With each completed track, a gold, silver or bronze medal is awarded based on time. There is a catch—each track has a limited number of retry opportunities, and using up those retries without reaching the finish line means no medal and no unlocking of the next track.

Time Trial consists of 11 stages divided into Easy, Intermediate and Hard levels of difficulty where the objective is to complete a set number of laps with a time to beat. Again, each level of difficulty must be completed before the next level is unlocked. A handy timer above monitors the time to beat to receive a gold, silver or bronze medal.

Upon a selecting a level, the game provides an aerial overview of the track for which you’ll want to pay attention to because there are no mini-maps or radars for guidance during the race. Every twist, turn, and jump is brilliantly illustrated with a handy fast forward button, and a replay is provided upon finishing a race, although these replays can’t be saved.

Both modes keep track of retries and times to beat so you can always go back and revisit unlocked tracks to improve on times and medal rankings. In addition to global scoreboards, Jet Car Stunts has an achievement system accessible via OpenFeint where recognition is provided for completing levels, medal rankings, and even for stunts.

The controls in Jet Car Stunts are some of the best and most natural in the category. The game offers 4 different control layouts so players should be able to find one that suits them. Accelerometer-based for steering, the buttons focus on 4 areas: acceleration, rocket boost, brakes/reverse and air brakes/gliding. Easily, these are some of the most responsive controls you’ll find, but as is typical with games, it will come down to how well you master them if you’re to succeed. Aside from that, tilt sensitivity, flip screen, and music/sound options are available. One of the notable omissions is a tutorial which means you’re on your own, although it’s not incredibly difficult to figure out.

Jet Car Stunts may lure you in with its looks, but this racer is not for the faint of heart and definitely not for those who have short tempers. The game is not a joyride in the park. On the challenge meter, this is probably one of the most unforgiving racing experiences I’ve had in a long time. However, driving these visually amazing tracks delivers quite the gaming punch.

Heavily physics-based, Jet Car Stunts requires the prudent and skillful use of your controls where using the right amount of rocket boost to make jumps is just as important as tapping the air brakes to guide and steer through the air. Managing rocket fuel is a core part of the game since it is limited in supply—Kyle Petty have mercy on you if you run out before completing the last jump. For example, when making long jumps between two platforms, easing up on the rocket boost is ideal to prevent overshooting the next platform and going over the side. This also applies to jumping through hoops where using the airbrakes to steer through them combined with the right amount of rocket boost is often the difference between success and failure.

Each track has a checkpoint so if your racer meets an untimely demise, it will start at the last checkpoint rather than at the beginning of the track. Intentional or not, Jet Car Stunts does have a hitch when it comes to checkpoints. Flying over a checkpoint rather than driving through it does not count so using the rocket boost appropriately is important especially on tracks where the checkpoint is located near the edge of a platform.

Another component in this game is the use of stunts where a variety of flips, tumbles and barrel rolls can be performed. While the not the easiest to perform, these require a combination of air brakes, rocket boost and steering best applied when you’ve managed a certain comfort level with the tracks.

The game relies on trial and error as much as racing prowess which should appeal to even the pick-up-and-play casual gamer. Having said that, Jet Car Stunts could use some tweaking in the difficulty department since it ratchets up quickly even in the Just Learning level where tracks become pretty complex. While some may find the difficulty off putting especially with the lack of different camera angles and in-race mini-map, the tracks do get easier with practice as is typical with this type of game. Additional tracks and even vehicles with different attributes would only strengthen what is already a complete racer.

Overall, Jet Car Stunts is an octane-filled thrill ride a minute that should exceed expectations even for the greenest racers among us. With innovative visuals and tracks that even the large development houses would envy, Jet Car Stunts is bound to be a palm sweating classic for those who dare give it a spin.

Albie Meter: 5 Stars (one of the best looking racers of its kind complemented by responsive controls; visually, a game that shows off as well as it plays; innovative track designs with replay value; difficulty level needs some tweaking since it ratchets up quickly; lack of tutorial and camera angles)

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