If you'd like, you can check out the original over at my blog
After finding success with the original Joe Danger, Hello Games is back, bringing with them Joe Danger 2: The Movie. Bigger, better, and more action packed, The Movie is the perfect definition of a sequel. It improves on the excellent foundation of the first game, while adding a ton of new modes and content. Although he hits a few road bumps on the way, I'm happy to say that Joe Danger is indeed back, and better than ever!
As you would expect, you once again take control of the titular Joe, daredevil and stunt man extraordinaire. Now he's made his name on the stunt scene, the next logical step is taking it to the big screen, in his very own action movie! The entire game is based around this theme, from the menus, to the levels themselves which poke fun at popular movies like "The Empire Bikes Back" and "The Temple of Vroom". It gives the game a lot of charm, and also allows for some much needed variety.
Gameplay is very much like the first game, as you zip through stages collecting stars and trying to hit the time limit, while avoiding all manner of traps along the way. It's a little like Trials, a little like Excitebike, but most of all it's just a ton of fun. The stars are your main objective, which changes with each level to match the various settings. Some are more basic than others, such as getting through the course under a time limit, but they are matched by others like stopping a van or sneaking into a base, and constantly keep things fresh and fun.
Adding to the variety are the many different vehicles Joe gets to drive, from ATVs to Jetpacks, even a Unicycle is here. Each is very fun and unique to drive, and adds a lot of flavor to the levels they appear in. You can also unlock a bunch of awesome costumes, like a Fez wearing Monkey or a guy in a chicken costume, and overall the game is just bursting charm.
The levels are intricately designed, and the difficulty progression is very well paced. One thing I did find odd was that while each act has its own theme, the levels within rarely follow it. For instance, Act 4: Dinosaurs only features two set in the prehistoric era, before branching off and repeating past themes for the remainder of the act. It just felt disjointed, and I don't understand why they would bother theming the acts at all if they didn't plan on sticking to them.
Aside from the main mode is an entire new set of levels titled Deleted Scenes. These are some of my favorite, and feature some truly unique and outrageous scenarios from human bowling, to a stunt course where you play as a giant cupcake on a motorbike! They are also the most challenging in the game, and will really test your patience if you aim to collect every star and pro medal.
On that note, one of the things I found most annoying about Joe Danger 2 was the checkpoint system (or lack thereof). Certain levels simply do not have any to speak of, which is really frustrating because the gameplay heavily relies on quick reflexes and perfect timing, and not being able to quickly retry a section you failed at makes them a lot harder than they would otherwise be. I'm perfectly fine with a challenge, but it ought to come from the level designs themselves, and not force me to memorize the entirety of them in order to proceed.
Like many games JD2 features a level editor, aptly titled Movie Maker, which allows for you to quickly and rather easily create and upload your levels online and download new levels for you to play. While I applaud them for including one, the editor itself is a bit clunky. For starters there is no way to disable gravity, which makes building in any direction but straight up nigh impossible. It is also difficult to select specific object, especially those placed close to each other. Finally there is a rather limited amount of items to choose from, and you can't even name your levels yourself once you go to upload them. Some people have found ways around many of these problems, and uploaded some great courses, but the average Joe is probably going to have a pretty hard time bringing their vision to life.
A multiplayer mode is here as well, though it's pretty much a throwaway addition. There are five levels to choose from, and the goal is to collect more tokens than your opponents by staying alive, doing tricks, and passing the finish first, among other things. It's a decent amount of fun, but given the small amount of levels and the fact that it is local only, I don't expect it will hold many people’s attention for long.
While not a graphical powerhouse by any means, the cartoony look of Joe Danger is the perfect match to the outrageous stunts and scenarios he goes through. The movie theme is a lot more interesting than the last game's, and the menus are easy to read and navigate. My one big gripe with the game is that there is no way to quickly go to the next level. You have to first load back to the menu, and then load up the next level. This might be OK if Joe Danger 2 didn't have some of the most unjustifiably long loading screens of possibly any game I've played. They can take upwards of 20-30 seconds to load a level, and then you have to do it again for loading out. I don't know why they take so incredibly long, and there really is no excuse.
Joe Danger 2: The Movie is an enormously fun game. The levels are well designed and the vehicles all handle uniquely, giving the game a lot of variety. It is also packed with a ton of content, from the main movie and the deleted scenes, as well as an endless stream of community made levels. It's a shame the editor isn't as good as it could have been, but for those just looking to play the levels it clearly works well enough.
If it wasn't for the loading times I really wouldn't have any other problems with the game, so if Hello Games only improves on one thing in future games, that is where they should start. That aside, I had an unprecedented amount of fun with the game, and I'm sure I will be coming back from more. If you are looking for a great pickup and play game, with a lot of charm and replayability, look no further than Joe Danger 2. It's a bona-fide hit through and through! Hello Games, time to take a bow!
Final Opinion: 8.5/10 Great!
Note, this review was of the PlayStation 3 build of the game. Any differences found in the 360 or PC versions are not accounted for.