Stuntman Ignition (360) – Review

Ignition coverThe original Stuntman game was interesting: the concept of being a stunt driver seemed to fit the video game mentality perfectly, but the execution of the game was horrible; between long load times and very tight stunt requirements, it made it difficult to run through each stunt enough times to know the entire stunt ahead of time, and then repeating it to get the timing and actions down right, taking much of the fun out of the game. The original game was produced by Reflections Interactive and distributed by Atari, but THQ has taken over development of the sequel, Stuntman: Ignition, with development by Paradigm Entertainment. The sequel has definitely learned a lot of lessons from the first game, with stunt courses being a lot easier and a lot more forgiving to pull off, but with this improvement creates the problem of the game being almost too easy to clear (though presents a score-mode to challenge you to be perfect) and making the value of the next-gen title a bit questionable.

Ignition screenshot (from Gamespot)Gameplay: A-

The basic aspect of gameplay from the original Stuntman remains unchanged with a few additional tricks. You take the role of a stuntman that does numerous driving stunts for 6 fictional movies. For each scene, you drive a prescribed course where certain stunts are indicated, such as jumping up ramps, slipping below semi trucks, drifting and 180 degree turns, and initiating certain actions like turbo boosts or weapon fire. However, the game varies in how successful you are in the stunts, with a much more relaxed failure rate. You can miss up to 5 of the required stunts and still pass the course, though a handful of stunts will immediately end the course (like missing a bridge jump). The first few times through stunt, this will likely happen, but once you get a lay for the land, it is rather easy to complete each stunt without major problems. If you still have problems, you can turn on easy mode which gives you a 2 additional misses before the stunt drive is called.

To make up for the easier stunt completion, the game is now more a score-attack type mode. A key part of driving each course is to chain stunts; completing one with a few seconds of the last in order to boost a scoring multiplier, otherwise, this will reset back to 1x. There’s plenty of opportunity to add these extra stunts to link between the required ones, like close calls, drifting, or breaking through barriers. When you complete a stunt, you’re given a rating based on one to five stars, with 5 stars only being given if you can fully chain the entire stunt. The number of stars gained will boost your stuntman reputation, which is needed to unlock some of the other films. In addition to the 6 stunts for each of the 6 movies, you can also perform “odd jobs” which are shorter stunt segments that require a bit more preciseness (with no mistakes allowed) to gain additional stars. I only had to drop back and complete a few stunts a bit better in the first couple movies to get access to the sixth movie, so collecting enough stars isn’t a barrier to accessing all the details of the game.

One nit is that the cars within the game don’t feel any different from each other. Ok, you do gain a motorcycle, which can be used to wheelie or to slip under trucks, but of the other vehicles you drive, they all feel like they handle the same, beyond when they’re top heavy (a security truck) or towing something (a semi-truck pulling a missile). There is one movie set on ice which does require you to avoid oversteering into turns, but again, there’s not much change in the handling.

Ignition screenshot (from Gamespot)In general, the stunt courses have some of the problems that the first game had, in that the marks to indicate certain stunts may not be easy to spot or show up late after making a large turn, but where these marks appear never change, so repeating the course is usually easy. Voice commands are generally on time to make you look but a few are also triggered late, but once you know the course, these aren’t as important for running the course. On the 360 version, while each stunt has to load up from disk to start, restarting takes just a few button presses and no time, which makes learning the stunts a heck of a lot easier and takes the bulk of the frustration I had with the original game.

Outside of career mode, you can either set up your own stunt courses with parts that you unlocked via earning stars in career mode, or try special construction challenges that require you to set up a course with a fixed number of elements to hit all the required stunts but within 30 seconds. There’s quick jump-in challenges as well outside of career mode to give you a feel of the game without getting a career set up. Multiplayer modes borrow concepts from the Burnout games; for example, a stunt race allows you to keep boosting up your score while also taking away multiplier bonuses from other players by sideswiping them.

Value/Replayability: B-

While the first game took me a while to complete due to the difficulties with loading the game each time you failed and the slowness of learning the tracks due to that, there are about the same number of stunts in both these games. As it’s easier now to learn these, it look me less than 8 hours to complete the 36 stunts, though to perfect them will likely take about as long if not longer. It makes this game a bit too light, and really needed at least about 25% more (two more movies) to really flesh it out and give it some length. While the game adds other single player and online modes, the fact that the gameplay is actually fun makes me really aching for me. However, I would also say that the variety in the various stunts is also limited: there’s only so many movie genres where stunt driving is appropriate, and only so many ways you can chain such events. I would say that making the game a score-attack was the right movie to urge players to improve their performance more.

Graphics: B+

Not quite Xbox 1 graphics, but I’ve seen better from games with lots of explosions and good physics engines. The game does drop a few frames when you are driving close to new explosions, and there’s some problem with glare when you move from a dark area to a lit one that may make it difficult to see where objects are. However, the scenery does help to set the stunts up pretty well, from a town being destroyed by an earthquake, to the streets of San Fransisco, to a fictional comic book city.

Audio: B+

The game does have a slight volume adjustment problem in that the director’s voice can be covered up by the explosions that are going off around, but again, this is much less a problem; it can be more a pain when you are trying a stunt over and over and you do feel like shouting back at the voice that calmly tells you to pull off something that is exceedingly difficult to do. The music in the stunts is appropriate but unremarkable; it does the necessary job of providing atmosphere. Outside of the director, you also get movie’s producer (which varies for each film) that introduces the film and compliments or critiques you after a stunt, and some of these voice overs are rather weak, others way over the top.

Overall: B+

Stuntman Ignition fixes the bulk of the problems with the first game, and actually makes this concept for a game work, but unfortunately reveals a few of the shortcomings for such. To the game’s credit, learning the stunts is much easier, but unless you’re going for perfection, you’ll tear through the provided courses rather quickly. Not that this is bad for some, but it likely won’t hold your attention unless you have a true fascination with the game. Stuntman Ignition does show promise that another go may really nail down the gameplay and perfect the concept that the original Stuntman tried to give.

3 Responses

  1. Nice Review masem. I agree that the game is too short for a buy but a decent enough rental.

  2. The physics in Stuntman Ignition for rolling around and flipping is not fun or realistic. I was in Constructor mode and when I landed on my roof, it just got stuck and slid with no rolling around at all. I was appalled since the first Stuntman did not do that and was known for the great physics.

    Circuity City had this game for $10 so I finally decided to buy it since I bought the first Stuntman at full price and loved it even though it was very frustrating.

  3. VQEt7Q comment1 ,

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