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Review: Stuntman: Ignition - PS3

by Nick Haywood on 27 October 2007, 09:52

Tags: Stuntman: Ignition, THQ (NASDAQ:THQI), PS3, Racing

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaj74

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Take 8, take 9, take, 10, take 11, take 12....

So, this all sounds like good stuff. You get to drive a huge variety of vehicles around a load of different locations doing tons of different stunts. There’s even a back lot rehearsal area to learn the trickier stunts such as bike slides or two wheeling a car. The other stunts, whilst they look more spectacular, are really just a case of lining up the vehicle and flooring it…

But here’s the bit where once again the game playing populace will be divided and that’s the stop/start, quick action nature of the gameplay. Although the failure rules have been relaxed a little from the original Stuntman you’ll still find yourself driving every scene at least five or six times, and very probably more. And one tiny slip on an otherwise perfect run can force a retake… and, in the chaos of the scenes you’re driving through, it’s incredibly easy to make that slip.

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Matters aren’t helped by the stunt co-ordinator who, a bit like the co-driver in a rally car, tells you what to do as you go along. You’re against the clock the whole time so you can’t help but speed along… the problem is that stunts are often called too late for you to get into proper position. Sure, there’s a big yellow icon hovering over them showing you not only where you have to be but what you have to do, but as anyone with a tetchy girlfriend will tell you, being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing is pretty tricky. Now try doing at 70 mph in a car that’s on fire.

In fact, you can just take it as a given to fail every scene on the first few attempts but in places you’re not helped at all by either your stunt coordinator or your HUD icons. ‘Shoot the gap’ is the order, but what gap? Where’s the damn gap? Oh, hang on, it’s off to the left… no one told me to turn left and seeing as I have to weave through some trees, it was hardly obvious. Or you might be told to overtake a car on the right… but you’re already on the left trying to make up time, so you get a strike mark.

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So for nearly all the scenes it’s very much a case of trying each scene over and over until you’ve memorized the path to take and what to do at each stunt… and even then you’ve no guarantee of success. In the first film you drive in, Aftershock, you do a couple of sections on a motorbike and have to perform a 180⁰ u-turn within a designated box… the trouble is, a trailer drops its load of pipes across the box just as you start the turn meaning you’ll have the devil’s job of ever completing it properly… Or you have to drive a truck through a house floating across in front of you on a river of lava… you can easily make the drive through but unless you hit the icon dead on it’ll be counted as a failure each time.

So it appears that what Stuntman: Ignition gives with needing five strikes to fail, it takes away with making it easy to get them. It would’ve been better if you had some sort of chance of redeeming yourself… you could fluff up a couple of times but perhaps make a few impromptu jumps, smash into a couple of barrels or perform a few power-drifts to make the director happy and remove a strike… The system’s already there with the director rating for showboating, so why not put it to better use.

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The problem with repeating scenes over and over again is that although you might get a bit farther each time, or even actually figure out where you’re supposed to be going, the whole action side of it becomes stale. There’s only so many times you can watch a car get blown up or drive under a tower as it collapses across a road… and by the time you finish a scene you’ll just be glad to see the back of it.

At the end of a successful run you can watch a replay of the take which, you’d think, would be pretty cool, especially if you’ve just nailed all the stunts and added in some flair winning you a five star rating. But, in an ironically funny way, for a game that hangs your progress on how the director reckons you performed, the camera angles on the playback are ok at best and bloody awful at worst. The camera is focussed on your vehicle and not on the action… so you can have the world’s mightiest, most impressive explosion going off in the background but you’ll not see it as the camera is busy panning around your car as you drive off down the road. And if you’re in a stunt where the explosion goes off around you, you can bet that the camera will be behind a lump of debris or a handy building corner…

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The only time you get to see the stunts in any kind of spectacular fashion is when you complete the movie and unlock the trailer… but to be honest, by then you’ve had enough and just want to move on.

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