IGN Review of Stuntman: Ignition
Are you a fan of broken bones? Do you love paying exorbitant amounts in insurance bills? Does an early death sound appealing to you? Then you, my friend, have a future as a stuntman. Or, you could go the easy route and pick up Stuntman: Ignition and only worry about common dangers like earthquakes, tornadoes, flash floods and ravaging monkeys for causes of an early, unexpected demise.
Stuntman: Ignition is the follow-up to Infogrames' 2002 PlayStation 2 release, Stuntman. The concept remains the same - you're tasked with driving vehicles through various movie shoots and nailing down some action-packed stunt scenes. The entire game is based around scripted events and your ability to perform your end of the scene, enhancing the directed stunts with your own death-defying skills behind the wheel. To this end, the game is very much focused on trying the same sequences over and over again, which is cause for most of the game's strengths and weaknesses.
There are six movies with six stunt sequences in each, resulting in 36 main scenes to play through. Each scene only runs for a couple minutes, but perfecting some of them can take hours. Scoring for each round is based on hitting all of the director's predefined stunts while also performing as many near-misses, power slides, jumps and whatever else you can manage to pull off. The key to mastering the whole thing, though, is stringing an entire scene together.
This is where the repetition part of Stuntman: Ignition works. While you might be able to simply complete a scene after a few attempts, nailing down the whole thing in one long, unbroken string is an entirely different task altogether. Your combo ends quickly, so as soon as you perform one stunt you need to look for another to keep your string going. Driving near other vehicles or objects is the easiest way to do this, though you'll earn many more points for drifting or jumping. Motorcycles have a built-in point gainer by way of wheelies, though you can't steer very well while doing so.
Once you know what you're doing in a scene, trying to perfect your run and figure out ways to string everything together can be pretty fun. Let it be known that this is not the sort of game that would appeal to those who like to rush through titles without looking back. You'll have to want to better your previous runs and work to make the scenes cooler in order to get the most out of the game, but if you do there's a decent bit to like here.
However, though you're able to utilize your own moves to string the scenes together, you largely need to follow the director's orders, which means that you aren't given an incredible amount of flexibility in what you can do. You'll be performing the same scenes over and over again, which again, won't appeal to everyone. Sure, you can fit in a couple extra drift turns here or a few narrow misses there, but by and large you need to hit the jumps the game tells you to hit and smash into the things it tells you to smash into.
Our biggest problem with the game though is that when you first begin a sequence, you'll likely have to play a game of trial-and-error. While in theory the director is supposed to tell you what to do as you approach a stunt and the icon boxes that show you where to perform said stunts should give you warning, this isn't the case a good percentage of the time. The yellow stunt boxes sometimes appear very late, so if it's your first time trying it you'll probably miss it. And the director also can also be a little late, sometimes telling you to do something when you don't have enough time to reposition yourself and get the stunt done.
As each sequence loads, the director gives you an overview of the big part of each sequence, but it's presented by way of sketches and sticky notes and you never have any sort of context for what leads up to his points. An in-game flyby would have been a huge help here.
Outside help is a little hit or miss. Before sequences that introduce new stunts types, like a barrel roll jump or two-wheel driving, you'll have to complete a short rehearsal to practice and prove you understand how to perform it. These work very well. There's also an in-game key that shows you what the different stunt icons mean in case you forget, which is also helpful. However, in the director's challenges in the Constructor mode, there's no sort of tutorial that tells you how to line up pieces to make each stunt piece work. While it's meant to be a bit of a puzzle, you shouldn't have to completely guess at how something works, but rather figure out how to best use it once you understand the fundamentals of setting it up.
Fortunately, the driving mechanics work pretty well for the most part as the vehicles drive nicely. The motorcycles can be a little frustrating at times given how susceptible they are to crashes, but all of the four-wheeled vehicles handle appropriately. Had the controls not been as tight as they are the whole game would have fallen apart, but luckily Paradigm did a good job in this department.
Stuntman: Ignition has a number of elements outside of the main films that help widen the experience, like the Constructor mode. With this, you're given an empty stadium or arena and can place pieces at will to create your own stunt setup. The director's challenges have stunt icons already placed that you must complete (along with a requisite score) in order to pass it, but the free mode lets you build anything you want from the pieces that you've unlocked. It's a decent diversion, but we wish you could edit the actual movie sets.
Perhaps one of the coolest parts of the game, which best makes use of the repetition aspect, is the Odd Jobs. You'll find a handful of one-off stunts to perform here, be it a car commercial shoot or a stunt sequence for an arena-full of fans. These are somewhat better than the film sequences as they're shorter and feel a little more tightly packed with stunts, allowing you to try 30-second parts over and over rather than three-minute runs that you happen to fail at the very end.
The online component is decent, but only one of the three modes is really worth playing. The race and battle options put you in the back lot of the movie sets, so there's not really much going on here and they really aren't very interesting racetracks. The movie challenges are much more interesting. Here, you'll race against other players on one of the main stunt sequences, where everyone triggers the stunts. If you're slow and someone else has already driven under the falling trees, they'll already be in the road and you'll not only miss those points but will have to dodge the trees as well. It's a pretty cool mode that tests how well you know the sequences and how well (and quickly) you can string everything together.
©2007-08-31, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved