Everyone’s favorite stuntman is back, this time doing stunts for a series of action movies.
Breaking into the movies seems to be the pinnacle of Joe Danger’s career, as this will apparently be the last Joe Danger game that the talented guys over at Hello Games are making, and in some ways you can understand why. The cartoon-styled stuntman has been on a journey and each of his outings has made improvements over the last, resulting in Joe Danger 2 being the most polished, content-filled and varied version of his adventures. It is almost as if this was the game that Hello Games wanted to make in the first place, and it has just taken a few pit stops to get there. Any more sequels or attempts to cash in on the series’ popularity would most likely result in the core game, the thing that makes the Joe Danger games so enjoyable, being watered down and resulting in a lesser product. However, just because there won’t be another Joe Danger game, with the amount of love and passion that Hello Games have put into this series, I can’t wait to hear what they are working on next. But that is for another day – today is all about speed, crazy stunts and collecting stuff.
If you have played Joe Danger before, you may not be surprised to know that in this sequel the player is charged with controlling Joe as he works his way from left to right through various obstacle-filled levels. This time around, the levels are all themed from various action movies and will see Joe trying to out run an avalanche, deal with dinosaurs or giant robots and hunt down bad guys. The levels are all varied and incredibly polished, ensuring that the player won’t get bored even when they have to go back and try levels again and again to get the required number of medals.
Y’see, each level has other objectives beyond just getting to the end without being blown up or crashing. These objectives are also varied depending on the level, with some levels needing the player to stop the bad guys by hitting their van, or preventing missiles launching by landing on them before the countdown reaches zero, or crushing dinosaur eggs. Then there are other objectives that may be familiar to Joe Danger players, such as collecting stars or the letters that spell out DANGER. Completing these will give the player medals that can be used to unlock further levels, which will have the player heading back to early levels in an attempt to progress. Then there are the Pro Medals awarded for achieving all of the objectives in one run, a feat that is by no means easy, and rewards the player with new characters to use during the game.
Simply getting from one end of a level to another is fairly simple. It is the objectives that increase the difficulty. However, Joe Danger is very well balanced and never quite gets to that point where the player has just had enough, and constantly teases the player into one more try, one more attempt to find all of those bananas. There are some 30-odd levels spread throughout the main mode and getting all of the stars will keep the average player busy for hours.
The controls are intuitive and haven’t undergone much by way of change since the last game. Players use the triggers to go forward or back, which works both on the ground and in the air. The buffers perform tricks needed to fill the boost bar. Then there is the boost button itself, the button to punch, and the duck/jump button, all applied to the face buttons. Some levels will see the player ducking and jumping with alarming regularity, which can be a bit tricky as the button is held down to duck and released to jump. It would have been nice to have the duck and jump have separate buttons, but that would have meant more buttons to remember.
So players of the previous games will be instantly able to pick up Joe Danger 2 and start working through the levels. That is until a spanner is thrown in the works with new vehicles. Adding yet more variety to the simple left to right gameplay, Joe now has to deal with some new modes of transport. Whilst most of these use the same physics mechanics as his trusty bike, such as the snowmobile, jeep, mine cart and even the skis, other offer a completely different style of gameplay. The jet pack, for example, takes things in a much more vertical direction, whilst the unicycle requires constant moving left and right to maintain balance. Whilst some work better than others (the unicycle drove me crazy), they serve to keep everything fresh and entertaining.
Joe Danger 2 doesn’t finish when the main movie scenes have been completed though. In the Deleted Scenes mode, player will find a whole bunch of additional scenes to work through which are more complex and demanding than those in the main mode. It is here that everything goes a little bit crazy and the player could find themselves getting frustrated. These levels require more skill than the others, but are much more satisfying to complete.
Then there is the basic multiplayer, which is offered in the form of five levels for friends to compete through, and the level editor, which allows for created levels to be shared or downloaded online. This fact alone will keep players coming back for more. Everything is tied up with online leaderboards and ghost data making sure that the player is constantly competing with someone, somewhere.
If I were to level a criticism against Joe Danger 2, it would be that not enough has changed. Is that really a bad thing when the original game and the special edition were so good? Probably not. There is more variety this time around, and things are more polished, not that polish was a problem before.
Hello Games’ beleaguered stuntman may have come to the end of his track, but he has finished on a high note. The basics that made the physics-based, platforming, side-scrolling action of the very first game are all here again. Gamers who didn’t like the first title will not be swayed into parting with their cash this time around, but who needs them? Joe Danger 2 is a fun game for fun people. Put some fun in your life and pick it up now.