Monday, October 29, 2007

Review: "Stuntman: Ignition" gives new meaning to 'Practice makes perfect'

If you ever wanted to be in movies, risking life and limb for the ultimate stunt, here’s your chance.

"Stuntman: Ignition," created by Paradigm Entertainment and published by THQ, is the follow-up to the Playstation 2 release. “Stuntman.” Just like that release, in this game you assume the role of a stuntman and work your way up to bigger and tougher jobs. You can jump into the action with the Quick Fix mode. There are eight matches in this mode. You can choose to do the freestyle option (you acquire as many points as possible) and directed mode (where you have to follow the director’s stunts and stay below the strike limit). These are great modes to get started on – you can race several types of vehicles – a motorcycle, a hot exotic sports car, a jalopy and several other vehicles.

After playing them, you can also explore the career mode, multiclash mode and the constructor modes. In career mode, you have to *audition* for a part as a stunt driver for this world-renowned director. The first movie, you are the town’s resident troublemaker in an exotic sports car and you are trying to escape certain death from lava. You have to listen to the director’s cue – which can be a hassle because they can be late and you’ll have to start over.

Pleasing Mr. Lucas ...

The more you please the director (by executing the stunts), the more stars you earn – with five stars being the maximum you can earn.

You get unlimited chances to complete the stunts. You can also press the easy mode button to make the stunt easier, but you don’t earn nearly as many points and stars on the more difficult levels.

The better you pull off stunts, the higher you are ranked. It’s all about precision when you are doing stunts.

As you earn stars and improve your rankings, you unlock different movies. Some of the movies include:

Aftershock – a disaster movie filmed in British Columbia – this is the first movie you’ll work on.

Strike Force Omega – a military action thriller filmed in Krygyzstan (do NOT ask me to say that twice fast).

Never Kill Me Again – a high-risk spy operation filmed in Beijing.

There’s also the Rehearsal, which lets you practice tricky stunts on a secluded backlot.

Crash helmets, please

In the Multiclash mode, you can play opponents on your console (The game supports up to 4 players on your console), System Link or Xbox Live. On local play, you can do the Backlot Battle, which consists of hitting all of the director’s stunts, complete the laps and such. What rocks in this mode is the “String Stealer.” If you rub one of your opponents during a string of stunts, you can ‘steal’ their points!

The other two multiplayer modes are Backlot Race and Stunt Tourney. In Stunt Tourney, up to 8 players can use the same controller to play.

The Constructor mode allows you to setup and even share your own freestyle arena for stunts.

What about the visuals?

The sounds and graphics are pretty sweet too. They aren’t top notch, but the ragdoll effects for the motorcycle rider flying through the air rocks.

The camera angle is good – it follows you over the shoulder and you can change the perspectives.

There are also more than 25 unique vehicles, including exotic sports cars, motorcycles and hovercraft that can be unlocked. Vehicle handling varies, but the controls tend to feel a wee bit loose and that can be a problem when you need to execute precision stunts.

The other problem I can foresee is lasting appeal. This game is fun, but replaying stunts – after you will have spent hours getting them just right for Mr. Director – will get old quickly.

Though all of the action is limited to vehicles, it would have been sooooo cool to have some stunts where you jump out of burning buildings, swing across a pit or jump out of an airplane. When I think ‘stuntman,’ I think about Indiana Jones!

Still, it’s a good departure for the mindless street racing games and will stop some gamers from attempting this life-risking stunts in real life.

Why should I care: It’s a virtual stunt game that puts you behind the wheel as a stuntman.

The good: Take part in cool movie stunts and please the director – multiplayer – a wide selection of cars – several modes to keep the risk-taker gamers busy for hours.

The bad: Practice makes perfect – lack of stunt variety (3rd-person perspective would have been awesome) – sketchy controls – replay value.

The ugly: Your doctor bill after landing in the hospital.

Overall: 7.5 (out of 10) –
it’s a good game that offers gamers a chance to be a virtual stuntman. The main problem, which can’t be avoided, is the repetition. If you get frustrated easily, you shouldn’t play this title. You wont’ nail the stunt on the first try – you will have to do it over and over until you get it right. Plus, after a frustrating stunt, doing it all over again may not be very appealing in the long haul. Still, it’s good fun and gets props for having multiplayer and four-player modes without your friends having to bring over their 360.


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