|System: PS3 (PSN)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Hello Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Hello Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jun. 8, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Though I enjoyed the control scheme, it's not necessarily conducive to long gameplay sessions. You accelerate and brake/reverse with the triggers, and after prolonged play my hands started to feel the burn. I also had some issues with analog commands being read properly when attempting to change tracks. In Joe Danger, you can only change tracks when passing through a lane changer - pushing up on the stick to go left or down to go right - and there were ample occasions when I'd push in the desired direction, see the arrow change, and then return back to the neutral position. The track changers play a major role in completing various objectives, so it was, admittedly, a source of regular frustration later on in the game.
Those issues notwithstanding, the mechanics and track design are a delectable treat, making the game really hard to put down. The triggers on the controller don't just allow you to control your direction on the track but in the air as well. Manipulating Joe's position in the air in order to hit targets or land in hard-to-reach areas of a track is actually one of the main elements of the game; it's crazy fun, and the ragdoll physics make each run through a track unique.
When you're ready for a break from the single-player campaign or have a friend eager to join in on the action, split-screen, local multiplayer is also on the menu. There's a decent selection of preset tracks, but you can also create or download new ones to enjoy as well. Multiplayer is focused strictly on racing, but creative, zany track design makes it great fun with a friend.
Lastly, players can create their own brand of mayhem in the Sandbox mode. Sadly, some of the elements I came across in the Career mode don't seem to be available in the editor, but I still managed to whip up some fairly silly stuff with the many elements that are included. The editor is very newbie-friendly, laid out in a straightforward fashion. You can create tracks in separate pieces, which makes it easy to concentrate on specific contraptions and such. Unfortunately, there's no online hub where players can go to exchange tracks, though there is an option to trade with friends.
When it comes to the game's aesthetics, Joe Danger is a good looking downloadable product. There are various backgrounds to experience in Career (and utilize in Sandbox mode), all with a playful style and motif. The camera is set up to make the most of the gameplay, though there are track assets that will occasionally obscure the view. The physics look great and are an integral part of the track design, the framerate was never an issue, and loads were mostly quick and painless. There are also some cool nods to other gaming franchises, not least of all Excitebike.
The music and sound effects are fitting, but the variety is a bit lacking. Explosions sound great, while themes playing in the background come off as a bit generic. Overall, though, the presentation is impressive for a downloadable game put together by four guys.
I had some quibbles with Joe Danger, and I had some moments of frustration as well; mostly, though, I just had a good time with the game. The controls aren't perfect, but the mechanics are wildly entertaining. I never felt like corners were cut or elements of the design glossed over. The developers obviously had a blast putting the production together, and that infectious vibe comes through in almost every aspect of the game. The $15 price tag initially gave me pause, but Joe Danger ended up being a terrific value I'll likely be enjoying for a long time to come.
CCC Freelance Writer