It’s likely that if you picked up a copy of Stuntman on the PlayStation 2 back in June of 2002, you’re still trying to see it through to the end. That, or the number of shattered controllers and broken household objects wasn’t financially advantageous. Now under a new developer, the title can bloom and become something special.
Ignition isn’t so much of a sequel as it is a second take. The original Stuntman felt like a practice run, meant to carry its concept to retail shelves without any care for the unsuspecting gamer who may stumble upon the horrific difficulty contained within. Problem solved.
The answer to the problems lie far deeper than a nice next generation sheen or gloss. Everything from the driving mechanics to the “movies” you’re playing a role in are actually memorable and endearing. It feels bigger, epic, and overall involving to a capacity the original strived to be without actually succeeding.
Stuntman begins with its original concept, tasking the player with completing insane driving stunts while a finicky director picks apart your performance until it’s flawless. Stunts range from jumps, destruction, collisions, near misses, and anything else the film crew has set up for you. You’re allowed only a few missed marks before you’ll need to start over.
This is a game of memorization and repetition. Die-hards won’t sleep until they’ve mastered every stunt in the wide array of films. Those with smaller inhibitions will be glad to have made it off the set and into a fresh one. A newly added easy mode is superb for practice runs, allowing for additional missed marks.
Progression isn’t as simplistic as barely scraping by. Your fame level determines whether the next job comes along. Earn barely any stars (out of six on each stunt run) and you’ll be forced to retry until you get it right. Odd jobs include options such as commercials that require an even higher level of precision.
When it’s on, Ignition is flawless. Barreling through the sets, explosions firing, building crumbling, and cars slamming into each other is a sight that even jaded driving fans will take note of. While forgiving, Stuntman is still inconsistent at times. Registering something simple like passing near a car may not take every time, yet landing in a marked area post-jump will count even if you flip over an crash in the process. No director in Hollywood would take a stunt of that “caliber.”
To make up for it, developer Paradigm has added local and online multi-player. These various stunt challenges can be played on pre-designed courses, or those created by users. Freshly crafted masterpieces of movie mayhem can be uploaded to Xbox Live for the world to try. Further refinements can then be handled by the new map artist and re-uploaded for additional fun.
If this series is destined to continue, it needs to branch out. Controlling cars through multiple levels of action is a blast, but Hollywood has calls out for more than car stunts. Once Stuntman finds its legs and branches out, THQ could have a minor classic in their library.
Stuntman Ignition is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Drug Reference, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence. This game can also be found on: PS2, PS3.Powered by Sidelines