Stuntman originally debuted on the Playstation 2, and while the driving game had a novel concept (you were a stunt driver doing motorized stunts for a bunch of different movies), its unforgiving difficulty and slow load times spoiled a lot of the fun.
Stuntman Ignition is THQ's shot at re-invigorating the Stuntman franchise, and they look to address complaints players had about the first game at the same time. While Stuntman Ignition has some flaws and its repetitive nature means it isn't for everyone, people who stick with the game will find it to be very rewarding and addictive.
Stuntman Ignition puts you in the role of a Hollywood stunt driver looking to make your way up the food chain. The game is divided into six movies (chapters, if you will), and each movie has six stunt sequences that you have to drive through in order to progress. Earn enough stars with great driving and you unlock more scenes and movies. Get five stars in each scene, and you'll dethrone Sonny Hooper as the best stunt driver Hollywood has ever known.
The movies in Stuntman Ignition are the typical action-packed blockbusters you see at the movie houses: disaster, superhero, cop, post-apocalyptic, spy, and backwoods hijinks are all spoofed; movie buffs will definitely pick up on what - and who, in the case of the films' directors - is being satirized. Unlike real movie action scenes, which are painstakingly shot piece-by-piece over a series of weeks and then enhanced via editing and special effects, all the stunt sequences in Stuntman Ignition are shot in one take, making most of the levels feel like you're driving through a several-minute-long stunt show at a Hollywood-themed amusement park.. This isn't a game you play to learn about the intricacies of stunt-driving and movie-making; Stuntman Ignition is all about action.
The goal in Stuntman Ignition is to get from Point A to Point B in each movie scene, be it in a car, truck, hovercraft, dune buggy, or on a motorcycle. In between the start and finish are several show-stopping stunts that you have to perform ranging from jumping over burning buildings, keeping up to a fleeing driver, driving on two wheels between oncoming transport trucks, or weaving amongst exploding streetcars while helicopters fire missiles. Make the stunt and you get points and increase your bonus multiplier; miss the stunt and you get a strike and the multiplier resets. Get five strikes and you have to do the entire scene again. While you'll blow scenes early on and have to re-do them, five chances is pretty generous when you compare it to the original game's "One strike and you're out" mantra. You can even activate Easy mode which gives you a couple of extra strikes at the cost of 50% of your score at the end of the scene.
Messing up big-time and want to re-try the scene? Restarts are nearly instantaneous in Stuntman Ignition, so you're never out of the action for long.
And make no mistake, Stuntman Ignition is all about the action: from start to finish, every single scene is an orgy of explosions, fire, collapsing buildings and bridges, shattering glass, crumbling debris, and smashed cars and fireballs raining out of the sky. Sometimes there's so much going on, it's hard to figure out where you actually are onscreen and where you're supposed to go next. As you learn the courses, you'll get better and better at blocking out the sound and fury and knowing exactly where you need to be and what you have to do.
If you're the type of player who just likes to do the bare minimum in a game and move on to the next one, Stuntman Ignition isn't for you. Stuntman Ignition is for people who like to master their games and discover all the tricks and intricacies that are the keys to getting huge scores. Underneath all the noise and mayhem, Stuntman Ignition actually has a pretty sophisticated scoring system that you'll need to figure out and exploit if you want to five-star each scene and string together an unbroken stunt streak from start to finish. This means memorizing each course by driving it again and again and again. And again. And then driving it a few more times. And restarting when you break your stunt string. And then restarting again. And again and again and aga...you get the idea.
Based on the above paragraph, Stuntman Ignition will obviously appeal to people who don't mind doing repetitive things in their quest for perfection. It's easy enough to get the bare minimum score to advance, but Stuntman Ignition is for people who view "just passing" as failure. This game is a textbook case of putting more into something to get more out of it.
That's not to say that the less hardcore can't enjoy Stuntman Ignition: the action is well-choreographed and the controls are really good, which makes it easy to zip around like a daredevil. Some stunts might seem impossible at first, but when you finally pull off the death-defying move that's been tormenting you for the longest time, it's a sweet feeling. The game can be tough at times, but is generally forgiving enough in that you can still beat a scene and advance even if you didn't get it 100% right.
Movie fans will also enjoy the behind the scenes banter and spoofs, and the trailers for each movie are nicely executed.
When you're not doing movie stunts, Stuntman Ignition offers up some side activities to keep you busy, ranging from filming TV commercials to driving in a stunt show. There's also a puzzle mode of sorts where you have to construct courses out of limited amounts of pieces, and you can make arena stunt courses too.
Stuntman Ignition has a multiplayer mode, but a scarcity of players makes finding games hard. When you do get into a game you have the choice of doing straight-up races or driving through stunt courses racking up points and trying to steal points from other drivers by ramming their vehicles. Both modes are fun enough, assuming you can find people playing. There are about a dozen multiplayer-only achievements, so you may need to find a friend with the game if you want to get them.
Graphically, Stuntman Ignition isn't a world-beater. It looks okay, but is nothing special when it comes to visuals. The trade-off to the workmanlike graphics is a solid frame-rate even when there's a lot of onscreen activity. And since there's a lot of onscreen activity nearly all the time in Stuntman Ignition and the framerate never falters, you won't mind that the game doesn't look like Crysis.
The audio in Stuntman Ignition is respectable, with nice-sounding vehicles and environmental effects. Each movie has specific theme music and it does a good job of being original while also referencing the particular movie that is being sent up at that particular time without ripping it off. While you might find the voice of the stunt co-ordinator a bit annoying due to his repetitive chatter (fortunately, he can be muted by plugging your headset into the controller and then turning the volume off), the voice performances of the various directors and hangers-on you encounter are well-done and funny.
Stuntman Ignition has 50 achievements to obtain, ranging from easy (setting your car on fire; driving into a hazard) to difficult and time-consuming (getting five stars in all 36 scenes). If you want to get them all, you'll be at it for awhile.
If you look at Stuntman Ignition as a puzzle game where you drive a car and not as a Burnout knock-off, you'll probably get a big kick out of it. You'll have to put a lot of time into the game, and if that doesn't bother you then you may want to take it out for a spin.