Review: Stuntman Ignition

9 09 2007

There are a select few games out there have a premise as universally appealing as Stuntman Ignition. The sequel to the 2002 hit-or-miss Stuntman, the game lets you strap on the boots of a Hollywood stunt driver, causing mayhem and destruction as you take part in making movie magic. The original game polarized player opinion, however, because it had an almost zero-tolerance policy towards missteps, which meant you’d be reliving the same scenes over and over until you got it just right. While Ignition is a more approachable and forgiving game, it will still require a certain level of patience to enjoy.

The game’s core is the Career mode, which has you pulling off stunts in six different movies—each one a winking take on a famous action film archetypes as well as more specific parodies, from Dukes of Hazzard to Batman Begins. Each film has five stunt sequences to perform, getting gradually longer and more difficult as you move from movie to movie. The game is graphically sound, with loads of detail in the vehicles and the environments. Each movie has its own unique visual style and flare, and all the sets are very well detailed and convincing. Sometimes the sheer number of explosions on screen can dip frame rate, but it’s barely noticeable when you’re going at break-neck speeds.

The stunts themselves are also pretty damn sweet. You’ll be barrel-rolling over gorges, taking radically sharp turns at a moment’s notice, and jumping very tanker, billboard, and helicopter you lay eyes on. Your stunts are flagged onscreen with large yellow icons, and your stunt coordinator will be calling them out as you approach them. The sets are all dense with cars, explosions and gunfire to give a greater sense of urgency. There’s also a context-sensitive “action” button you can press that lets you do things like get a nitro boost or fire a weapon. You are scored for your performance on each stunt sequence assigned a star rating based on that score, and your progress from one movie to another is determined by your accumulated star rating. The only way to get a maximum rating is to continuously string stunts together in succession, so you’ll constantly be on the lookout for anything you can drift through, jump off of, or drive close too to keep your strings alive.

While this all seems ideal, the game mechanics can get real frustrating real fast. With all those crashes and explosions going on in a scene, it can sometimes be really difficult to keep track of where your next stunt is. There were a couple sequences where I had no idea where I was going because I was so focused on not crashing into stuff. Your stunt coordinator can also become a nuisance, since he’ll frequently call out your next stunt far too late for you to actually hit it. Combine that lack of clear direction with a five-strike—and sometimes one-strike—maximum on missing stunts, and you’re guaranteed to repeat each sequence at least once. And if, like me, you obsess about getting a five-star rating for each sequence, you’ll have repeated them so many times you’ll want to cut out the stunt coordinator’s vocal cords.

With that said, completing a sequence with a high score can be extremely satisfying, given the difficulty. You can probably blow threw the career mode in a few hours, but getting the highest possible rating can have a significant effect on the game’s replay value. There are also a couple multiplayer modes to toy with, as well as a level creator that, while not as deep as you would like, will allow you to create some pretty swell stand-alone sequences. So while the game isn’t for everyone, there’s a lot of fun to be had here, with the right amount of patience.





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