Stuntman: Ignition PS2 Review

If someone walked into a bar and asked a group of people what they do for a living, for role-playing sake, lets say that one of your friends is an accountant, another is a shop manager, and you just so happen to be a stunt driver. We all know which of the trio would be grabbing the most attention, as a shop manager and an accountant sound rather mundane in comparison to a living on the edge stunt driver.

In 2001 Atari and Reflections tasked you with becoming a stunt driver with the aptly titled Stuntman. Things change, and since then Reflections have been sold off to Ubisoft (due to Atari’s financial strife) and the Stuntman name is now an exclusive property of THQ. With that history lesson told, under the guidance of a new publisher (the ealier mentioned THQ) and developer (Paradigm Entertainment), Stuntman: Ignition is the present day result.

For those unaware, Stuntman involves you driving through various film sets, utilising a vast range of vehicles, and following the instructions to create some very fancy stunt driving sequences. In this way the series almost resembles the rally genre, although never can we remember having to smash through boxes, reverse and complete a 180 turn, drive on two wheels, jump off roofs, and pass through small gaps on any of the Colin McRae games. It certainly glamorises stunt driving, and brings us back as to why accountants and shop managers are so mundane in comparison.

If you played and enjoyed the 2001 original then Stuntman Ignition will have you jumping through burning hoops, and driving your car on two wheels in delight. Paradigm have certainly taken note of the Reflections developed original, and created a loyal sequel that sticks close to its original blueprint. Changes have of course been made and the criticism directed towards Reflections game hasn’t been ignored.

Indeed, talk and they do sometimes actually listen.

Stuntman: Ignition doesn’t necessarily have to be the difficult game that the original was, having scrapped the leather tight time limits that brought frustrations to many. Real Stuntmen may not have much room for error, living on the edge so much that falling off the world is always a concern. Ignition does at least bat an eyelid at a comfortable amount of your mistakes before the virtual directors call a sudden halt to the filming, followed by an often humorous and scathing remark. Five mistakes (or strikes according to the game) spells a failure, although if your driving isn’t going to plan, an easy mode gives you room to fail an additional couple of stunts.

In no way does the game encourage you to be a wimp and turn on the aforementioned easy mode though. This more forgiving difficulty level comes at a price, that being your final score, which is sliced in half, and as the game is all about scoring enough numbers to make a mathematician glow, we never really had the desire to give in and turn this easier difficulty on.

Getting to the end of a scene isn’t always the hard part, but getting that elusive five star rating requires you to drive like a madman (read: stunt driver) and with smooth and precise control. It’s certainly one of those games that encourages you to get better at it, and stringing huge combinations together, perfecting your driving technique, and being awarded those five stars may very well result in such a wide grin on your face that surgical removal may not even be an option.

As for further options beyond that of the main career mode, being able to build your own stunt arena is an interesting one, although in no way did we find it diverting us away from the main game. It’s still a nice option to have though, particularly for those who like to get their creative juices flowing.

There’s also a multiplayer mode that avoids being throwaway, giving you the opportunity to battle for points in Backlot Battle, race against one another in Backlot race, and up to eight players can even take it in turns to see who the true master is of each of the single player scenes in the stunt tourney. It’s all good fun, and certainly extends the life of the game after you’ve perfected everything else that it has to offer you.

In spite of all its good intentions though, Stuntman Ignition does have its flaws. The game always remains fun, although perhaps being able to fail scenes altogether by failing the major stunts (the ones that put people in cinema seats) or at least getting two strikes against you (instead of one) for your big failures would have made sense. Still, it’s all about racking up those points, and failing any stunts doesn’t do you any favours as you attempt this. Also, surely the game could have benefited from some sort of director mode where it would have been possible to edit your replays, change camera angles, cut mistakes out and more.

Stuntman: Ignition is a very stylish game and certainly a better one than its predecessor. Whilst the career mode isn’t really that long, at least it will have you working at it for some time to turn all your ratings into five stars and giving yourself the smug satisfaction of doing so.

Who would want to be a shop manger or an accountant anyway? They don’t even do any stunts when they are late for work.