At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players
Matt Bailey Xbox 360 Hello Games Hello Games 1-4 (Share screen)
Requirements Also on...
None. PS3

Joe Danger 2: The Movie review

After being put through an awful lot of tumbles and crashes into walls in the first game, stuntman Joe Danger has finally made it big. And now he seems to be appearing in a movie featuring all your favourite cliches; from missiles launching out of secret bases, to runaway mine carts, to chasing down robbers on motorbikes, they've all been combined here together. The ultimate action movie.

Joe's new role sees him taking to the helm of more than just his trusty motorcycle. There are snowmobiles, mine carts, jet packs and unicycles here too. This is a risky strategy for Hello Games, on the surface it seems like easy way to expand on the original game and differentiate itself from its predecessor, but it comes with the added challenge of making each of those vehicles feel right. Before, there was one vehicle which would have got a lot of attention through the many months of development, but now that effort has been spread across many. Maybe some of that challenge is why it's taken a but longer than we expected for the game to arrive.

Hello Joe!

Hello Joe!

Thankfully, though, the efforts seem to have paid off, as each vehicle is easy to control and feels different from the others. Mine carts are definitely different beasts and not just oddly shaped motorcycles. The jetpack, particularly, stands out as it is so unique and it’s enjoyable as you send Joe high into the air and then stop him crashing back to Earth. Challenges here often come from above as well as below. However, despite my own enjoyment of this new range, not all fans have been happy, but I think the variation here provides an extra level of excitement to playing a new stage for the first time.

The introduction of the movie theme changes the structure of the game. Instead of Joe attempting to restart his stuntman career through progressively more impressive stunts, here he's in full film production mode, with the main progression split between different locations of the movie. Each location has a collection of scenes which will allow you to explore those different vehicles, but what seems to be lacking is a cohesive structure that brings all these scenes together into one long movie. Apart from building this ultimate action movie, you don't get a sense of what is going on, and why Joe is pulling off all these dangerous stunts for the camera. You get a short clip at the end of each scene made up of pre-recorded bits, but it would have been great to see all your actions pulled together in order to fully flesh out this great idea which provided a theme for the sequel.

Some levels are particularly tasty

Some levels are particularly tasty

However, that shouldn't distract from the fun you'll have with each stage. With a variety of objectives to achieve each time, combined with a high score mechanism that instantly compares you against your friends upon completion, there's plenty here to keep you motivated, not only to progress, but also to try again and again. The film has five locations, which may not take more than a few hours to get through, although it will take quite a bit longer to earn all the stars and make your way up the leaderboards. There's also a lot of "deleted scenes" to keep you playing; these are often more difficult, you may note that the unicycle only features here, and you need to complete some of them in order to unlock the "Director's Cut" section of scenes, which expand on the original film parts. The deleted scenes make up a significant chunk of the game, and those whizzing through the first parts would do wise not to miss out on these.

The difficulty does vary a little across the stages, but it's still a fairly smooth curve from the levels at the beginning through to the most difficult deleted scenes. There's some levels which require perfection and so offer less variety for scoreboard competition, but generally there's a significant amount of free-form in how you complete the levels, and a fair amount of checkpoints which you can jump back to instantly, making failure far less frustrating than it might have been. There's certainly a sense of "just one more go" as you constantly tell yourself that you could have done that last level a bit quicker, or that you really should have picked up that final coin.

The level editor offers opportunities for exciting new user-made levels

The level editor offers opportunities for exciting new user-made levels

If you think you could do better with the levels than Hello Games then they're challenging you with the included level editor. It features one of the best tutorials for an in-game editor I've seen as it makes you learn the mechanisms for editing by getting you to play the levels. In each level you need to use the available tools to make changes in order to get to the end while completing the necessary objectives. They were so enjoyable that I would really have liked to have seen more levels just like that. The editor itself is easy-to-use, helped in part by the 2D side-on view the game uses. Once you've made a level, it can be easily shared online, although the options around downloading other people's creations are more limited than say LittleBigPlanet; while you can give a thumbs up to a good level you can't explore the creator's other offerings, and levels are downloaded into slots so you can only have a rather limited number of them on your hard drive at any time. The levels are also isolated, so there aren't any leaderboards for them. However, with easy-to-use tools and simple sharing, there's still a lot of potential here to provide new and exciting ways to play Joe Danger 2 in the months to come, especially as popular levels and developer highlights make it easy to find something worthwhile.

After enjoying the multiplayer mode at this year’s Gamescom it was surprising to discover that it wasn't a bigger part of Joe Danger 2. Four player battles were a hit with the German gamers on the show floor, and yet there are only five levels right now. It's particularly disappointing because it's so enjoyable; grab a friend or three and some controllers, and you'll soon be having fun as you race to the end, punching each other (both in the game and on the sofa), and heading straight for the retry button. Each of the five levels is a different location with a different vehicle, so there's a good variety, and I just wish there was a bit more of it. The lack of online multiplayer is also disappointing, particularly when compared to Trials Evolution, but it is a mode that does work best when your competitors are alongside you.

It seems, then, that while Joe Danger 2 is hugely enjoyable, there was more that could have been done to tie together the new movie, enhance level sharing and expand the multiplayer. And yet Joe Danger 2 is hugely enjoyable and therefore easy to recommend; it may be an evolution of the original rather than a radical overhaul, but the additions make the game feel fresh, and the tight controls allow for some excellent worldwide scoreboard competition.

Ratings

Overall It's different enough from its predecessor to make it stand out, with the variety of vehicles - in particular the jetpack and unicycle - providing an exciting challenge to even veterans of that first game. It's fun and addictive, and we just wish there was even more of the multiplayer mode to enjoy. 9/10

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