Jackass the Game Review
If you think what the Jackass guys do on TV (or on the big screen) is completely insane, wait until you see what they've got in store for their video game. You can tell they put in everything they'd want to do in real life, but can't without resigning themselves to an early death. In turn, we get a game that's absurdly unrealistic and fantastical, occasionally hysterical, and often far too boring to hold anyone's attention for more than an hour. It's a bizarre blend, actually, and not one we find all that entertaining. On the one hand, we get exactly what we'd expect with an added dose of impossible situations, but on the other hand, too many of the "games" are just...bad. They not only make very little sense, they're also difficult to control and, in some cases, even understand. Sidhe Interactive does a good job of capturing the madcap style of the Jackass boys, but they fail to bring in the bone-crunching hits and shock value we're so accustomed to. The exaggerated rag-doll physics are certainly comical, but that's about where the comedy begins and ends for this title.
The graphics are standard fare but remain a bit above average due to some solid character detail and design. The locations for the stunts are numerous and diverse, but while some actually look pretty darn good, others are painfully lacking in the visual department. The game is surprisingly colorful in certain areas and the cut-scenes are mostly well done throughout. However, there are technical glitches the gamer will encounter when a stunt gets hectic, and clipping is an obvious issue here and there. We also wonder why Sidhe didn't put the same amount of effort into every locale and environmental aspect; the erratic nature of the graphics is a little annoying. One minute, it's "hey, that looks pretty good!" and the next, it's "...damn, this sucks." It seems clear they wanted the characters to be easily recognizable, but they weren't nearly as interested in presenting a cohesive, consistent visual presentation. At the very least, though, the graphics aren't as bad as they could've been (we were expecting nothing better than atrocious), so that's a small bonus.
The sound quality is going to depend greatly on whether or not you enjoy the soundtrack, which takes center stage throughout most of the game. The character voices are great - although far too repetitive - but make no mistake: if you're not a fan of the non-stop music tracks, you're gonna hate the sound in Jackass the Game. We weren't fans. Some of it's okay, but the original stuff is just terrible, and after about a half-hour, we just wanted to turn off the soundtrack in almost every stunt. Despite the repetitiveness of the voices, we would've actually preferred just the voices and basic effects; that soundtrack simply didn't do it for us. Speaking of the effects, it's all very generic and just about every collision or impact sounds identical to the last. And again, we experienced some erratic technicals as some effects in particular stunts were just a lot better than others. We have no idea how this is possible, but it almost seems as if entirely different development teams were in charge of different stunts! Either that, or they just wanted certain ones to "stand out" or something...we can't be sure.
Jackass includes a wide variety of ultra-crazy stunts, and many of them are so over-the-top insane, you can't help but try it more than once. See, the game designers realized people who buy this game are interested in masochistic and even sadistic entertainment, which means they'll enjoy depictions of extreme pain. Therefore, the goal doesn't always focus on successful completion, but miserable failure...the more suffering the character goes through, the more points you will earn, for example. You'll see exactly what we mean in the first set of stunts: one stunt has you falling down a steep incline littered with rocks, and the more injuries you sustain, the better you'll do. In the next stunt, you have to speed towards the edge of a roof with a grocery carriage, and it's like a game of chicken. Whoever stops last without shooting over the edge wins. In one, you're rewarded for guarding the character's health; in the other, you're rewarded for inflicting massive damage on the character. Now, while that may sound strange, remember that we're talking about "Jackass," here. This theme is perfect!
Unfortunately, while the concept makes perfect sense and is indeed solid, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. They just refused to pick one type of control to utilize and instead, the player finds himself having to learn a new control mechanic for many of the different stunts. And while straightforward and relatively easy, many of these controls are sluggish and spotty, which is ironic: not only are the technicals erratic in nature, so is the gameplay. It's almost entirely hit or miss. There are some stunts you'll want to play again and again, desperately trying to hit every goal and unlock every secret. Other stunts, you'll despise the moment you begin, and you'll force yourself to finish the event without any intention of going again. This leads to a very uneven gaming experience; one that's full of peaks and valleys. You may embrace it, but we found it to be unsettling and inconsistent. The game doesn't take long to finish, but as you progress, the constant rollercoaster ride can grow very tiresome and irritating, and that's not the type of gameplay we can recommend.
Of course, fans of these nutty guys will probably get what they bargained for, and that'll be good enough for them. There are plenty of things to do and bonus content to unlock, and if you really dig that soundtrack and laugh super hard at your mistakes, you'll probably have fun with the game. But when you have to suffer through controls that are either loose, clunky, or just plain weird, you could rapidly lose all interest. Considering Sidhe never needed more than two or three buttons for most stunts, one has to question their button selection; what's the point of using the R1 and L1 buttons to dictate direction when we can just as easily use the left analog stick? Like in most every game on the planet? Furthermore, when some of the more complex stunts require multiple buttons, the layout is extremely questionable and even deplorable in a few unfortunate cases. It doesn't help that the physics are both questionable and confusing. The rag-doll effect is unendingly hilarious, but some other parts that involve driving - like where we zip around on a golf cart - consist of seriously shoddy physics. Yes, we're aware this isn't supposed to be a simulator, but you can never count on the controls or physics to do the same thing twice. And that's just plain silly.
Now, there's something to be said for both single-player and two-player interactive entertainment that centers on undertaking the most absurd stunts one can ever imagine. In this way, Jackass the Game wins over its target audience and can even provide loads of fun for other players...but only if they're bored to tears and haven't heard of the great titles out there. Good games have consistency and stability. Jackass has neither, which means this is a mediocre experience for those who aren't rabid fans of the pain-loving gang. There are plenty of stunts to undertake and thankfully, no two stunts are the same. The variety is most appreciated, but the controls (in both the button layout and game response) are crucially flawed, the physics are iffy at best, and the soundtrack is definitely a love/hate deal. For the typical gamer, there really isn't enough here to warrant a purchase, and the technical failings might even turn away avid followers of the Jackass gang. Without a solid foundation, there's really no way to produce a title that is accomplished enough to be of high quality.
In short, Jackass the Game is all over the place. Some stunts are great fun, others are terrible. The graphics are decent here, but severely lacking there. The controls in this stunt work just fine; the controls in another make us say, "what the...?" In the end, we didn't like leaping back and forth between moderately happy and significantly disappointed, so we have to give this title the only possible score that fits...
12/3/2007 Ben Dutka