Stuntman: Ignition Preview
If you had an inclination to play one of the most original titles of the time, you probably had a keen interest in Stuntman, a 2002 PS2 title that placed you in the enviable role of a motion picture stunt driver. Of course, those who played it also learned very quickly that it was immensely frustrating; almost to the point where you wanted to break everything in the immediate vicinity. Well, Paradigm has been hard at work on the first next-gen installment, Stuntman: Ignition, and they're prepared to deliver an even more off-the-wall and engrossing experience...and hopefully, without the added frustration. Honestly, the trial-and-error difficulty in the original was almost too outrageous for words. But we won't dwell on that.
We'd much rather focus on the new game, and how sweet it looks based on a variety of screenshots and videos we've seen to this point. There's a lot more driving, but we've only seen cars so far, and we're wondering if we'll get back in the seat of a snowmobile again (we can always hope). There are multiple stunt opportunities in any action movie, and it doesn't always involve driving. But it seems clear that Ignition remains focused on the insane driving that made the first so darn endearing, and we've already seen stunts involving barns, trains, dense forestry, and even helicopters. Yup, we might be jumpin' over them like we did in that Bond rip-off film from the first Stuntman. And speaking of those movies we participated in, the sequel will apparently boast...well, a sequel or two. The first of which is "Whoopin' and a Hollerin' II," which puts you back in the seat of the General Lee facsimile as a stunt fill-in for the Creek Boys.
Remember "Whoopin' and a Hollerin"? It's the one where you sent your good ol' American muscle car through a chimney, a slew of fences, and even through the open car of a speeding train. Timing had to be perfect, and the latest video of the sequel shows you'll have to be just as accurate. The first scene is called "Grab ‘n Go," and you'll be in an armored car attempting to outrun the cops through backwater country roads. You'll be on your toes the whole time, speeding through traffic at top speed in order to nail all the stunt spots on the course. This is followed up by "Ridge Runners Race," which is longer than the first scene, and it seems reminiscent of that scene from the first movie in Stuntman. Everything is gonna get busted up real good, with wood from fences and barns a-flyin' and you desperately attempting to maintain control while going all-out for the duration of the scene.
But here's where we have one big question: the reason why the original game was so ridiculously difficult is simply because the scenes would be very, very long and one little misstep would ruin your run. By the time you got to the fourth and fifth movies, you were about ready to tear your hair out. The problem was, real stuntmen don't string together seven thousand driving stunts in one take; it's completely unrealistic because it's basically impossible. We're really hoping they don't take this same approach with Ignition, because it could really ruin a good thing. Perhaps we could have shorter scenes, but more of them...? But then again, maybe making one miss won't mean failure, considering this new game will feature a star rating system. If you don't do so hot, you'll get a low rating, but at least you'll still pass the scene.
Another thing they added was some pretty significant - and hilarious - rag-doll physics. Accidentally hitting bystanders seems to be a very real possibility in this one, as you can smack right into those watching on the sidelines and even your own film crew! And when you do, the bodies will fly and flop around like lifeless rubbery dolls that got smashed with a huge amount of force. Yeah, that oughta infuse some levity into the tense scene shooting, right? Obviously, you're not supposed to be hitting people, but we get the feeling that if the game is as annoyingly frustrating as the first one, we might have to exercise our aggression in some way... We might be sacrificing a few stars, but it's better than snapping the controller in two.
But if you do opt to go a little crazy and sacrifice those stars, you're also sacrificing the chance for rewards and unlockables. If you really wow the director during the scene, you can unlock a bunch of nifty options, like the color customizer for your vehicles (it just means you can select your favorite color). Furthermore, if you can nail particularly difficult jumps, you'll receive special "stunt awards," although we're not sure what the purpose of those awards are just yet. They may be nothing more than little trophies or other badges of achievement, but even so, it's nice to have a goal. And lastly, if you can throw down a four-star run, you'll unlock the Ghost Run that will allow you to see how the perfect ghost gets five stars. Once you see him do it, you might notice something you missed in your quest for five stars, and that will probably be a huge benefit.
Stuntman: Ignition is scheduled for both the PS3 and Xbox 360, and it should hit store shelves in the U.S. on August 28. Those lucky European gamers get it even earlier on August 10.
6/12/2007 Ben Dutka