Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Stuntman: Ignition (PS3)

For those who've played the previous games, Stuntman: Ignition on the PS3 offers more of the same high-octane driving action that you've come to expect from the series with the usual explosions, jumps and, collisions. The basic premise of performing stunts and action sequences in order before the timer runs out hasn't changed and its gameplay is fairly predictable. This becomes repetitive quickly, especially during the directed sequences, and the extra modes don't really add much to the game. Despite some thrilling moments, the game's poor controls, bland graphics and tedious by the numbers gameplay makes for a disappointing experience.

Taking on the role of a Hollywood action movie driver, players find themselves performing a variety of stunts such as huge jumps, squeezing between vehicles and smashing objects during the course of THQ's Stuntman: Ignition for the Playstation 3. The game's concept is relatively simple and easy to explain. Each level plays out as a scene from a movie, complete with the 'action' call and director's instructions that have to be completed. Your objective is to complete all the stunts in a certain level before the timer runs out and create the perfect scene. It's not as easy as it sounds because you need to do this without messing up too many times, since you only have three strikes before the scene ends and you have to go through it again in a 'reshoot.' Stuntman: Ignition includes the usual single player and multiplayer modes, and players can choose from single missions or career modes at the options menu. Within these modes, there are several types of events which include directed missions, where you have to complete a mission in the exact order or freestyle mode where you only need to earn points and don't have to worry about strikes or directions. You only have a few missions available at first, but you can unlock additional ones quickly by successfully completing the early stages. Stuntman: Ignition also offers online competitive modes along with online play. As you progress through the game and complete missions, you'll unlock additional areas as well. This gives the gameplay at least some depth. The game unfolds in a fairly predictable manner. During each scene, you have a number of objectives that you need to complete, with each consisting of a specific action you need to complete, such as passing a truck on the right, jumping off a ramp and hitting a target such as landing on a boat. Each event is represented by an icon that appears on screen. In addition to the standard driving modes, players will also see an 'action' icon appear at certain critical points. Here, you'll need to press a button at a certain point in order to enable an extra event such as a speed boost or other special stunt.

These events are all fairly easy to understand, but if you miss any sequence, you get a strike, if you are marked with three strikes during any sequence, the mission ends and you have to begin anew. Going off the course or crashing excessively also causes the player to lose points. During each sequence, you earn points which are used to rank your performance. In addition to the main tasks at hand, you also gain points for stylish moves like drifting or knocking over barrels. The sequences are very rigid in their construction, with other vehicles moving at precisely the same time, which makes it easy to anticipate what's going to happen every time. This makes things less enjoyable, and it makes each sequence feel like you're playing the same thing again and again. You can try to play through the levels again for a better score, but things quickly reach a point of diminishing returns in the single player mode. However, the game is fairly lax in unlocking additional content, and you should be able to unlock a significant portion of Stuntman: Ignition without putting too much effort into it. This is another problem - once you get the hang of the timing, things get too easy, which makes the challenge almost negligible. To maximize the game's replay value, there are several other modes available including a cool construction mode. When in this mode, your objective is to place a certain number of objects, such as ramps, barrels and other obstacles in an open arena in order to create a perfect stunt condition. You have certain objectives that your director wants to complete in order to film the perfect scene, which is more challenging than it sounds, since you have to do this before the timer runs out. Completing the run in under 30 seconds in this mode means that you have to design the perfect course, which is much harder than it sounds. Fortunately, you have an unlimited amount of time to place objects and edit their locations and can change your layout as many times as you like until you get things just right.

Despite all these special features and additions, the total package never really comes together the way you think it would. Even though Stuntman: Ignition has all the elements in place to make a really exciting game, things never really feel right. Each stunt last only a minute or two, which hurts the flow of the gameplay, while the individual levels quickly become monotonous with a tedious set of instructions. The game's controls are the biggest problem, with a rather touchy interface that never really makes you feel like you're in control of the action. While the game is decent at points, you'll frequently find yourself succeeding in one section but failing the next. On the next try, you'll find yourself unable to perform even basic stunts for no apparent reason. This erratic interface makes this a frustrating experience. Instead, like many Hollywood action movies, the gameplay never feels as cohesive as it should. It doesn't help that the game's rather bland visuals don't really take advantage of the PS3's next-generation hardware and feel patched together. The game itself has some serious structural flaws, most of which revolve around its follow-the-instuctions gameplay. It's a bit challenging at first, but the objectives become entirely predictable, reducing what could have been an exciting and inventive game into something like driving by rote. For the most part, instead of allowing players the freedom to create and perform their own stunts, Stuntman: Ignition locks you into a predetermined set of stunts and missions, which sucks the fun right out of the game. There are some moments of excitement here and there, but the overall feel of the game is inconsistent and frustrating, making Stuntman feel like a hit-or-miss game that's been patched together. The game's borderline gameplay reduces all the other positive elements to mere side-shows and makes for a disappointing and uneven game overall. Stuntman: Ignition's concept is badly executed and its inconsistent controls make for a frustrating experience. This is one of the least enjoyable driving titles we've played on any next generation console, making this one driving title you definitely want to avoid.

- Michael Palisano


Related Reviews

Sega Rally Revo (Playstation 3)
Ridge Racer 7 (Playstation 3)
NASCAR 08 (Playstation 3)