Stuntman
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Atari
Developer
Reflections
Genre
Racing
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence, Mild Lyrics
 
Grade
The Good

• Terrific driving physics
• Stunt Arena
• multiple styles of cars and stunts

The Bad

• Long initial load times
• high difficulty
• no stunt tutorials

 
Grade
B+

Stuntman is the latest game from the developers of the Driver and Destruction Derby series, Reflections. In Stuntman, you assume the role of an up-and-coming stunt driver, working your way from low budget independent movies to huge Hollywood blockbusters. Along the way the stunts get more elaborate and difficult, and you earn money based on your performance of particular stunts and the overall quality of the scene. After you have completed all the stunts for a particular movie, you are treated to a cinematic trailer featuring clips of your best stunts interwoven with the CG actors.

Gameplay: Stuntman plays like a combination of Driver and Destruction Derby; the car controls, handling and physics are very much like Driver, with the bone-crunching crashes and rending metal of the Destruction Derby games. The bulk of the game takes place in the Career mode, where you must complete a series of stunts within the directors' time limit. However, you are never given more than a brief setup for the stunt you are about to do. Instead, the director gives you instructions on the fly. The director barks orders over your radio, like "Smash the boxes!" or "Jump through the billboard", but they are almost always relayed just a second or so before the stunt. Fortunately, the game has icons above or on the stunt area, so you know where to go, and green marker arrows show you the path through the set. You will need either extremely fast reflexes or a lot of patience to play this game, because often you will try upwards of 10 times to complete a stunt. Once you finish a stunt though, you can watch a very cool replay of it that can make all your hard work seem worthwhile.

Rounding out the Career mode are the Stunt Arena mode and the driving games. The driving games are laid out in 3 categories: Precision, in which you must complete various courses within a set time limit; Speed Test, which is just a flat-out race to the finish; and Stunt Test, which challenges you to complete certain stunts while collecting "stunt tokens" to open up the next level. Stunt Arena is a level editor, much like the Tony Hawk skate park creator. Each stunt you complete in Career mode opens up more items and cars to place in the Arena mode, from ramps, boxes and flaming hoops to sports cars, school buses and monster trucks. Imagine all the wild things you did with your Matchbox cars when you were a kid, and you can probably recreate them here.

Graphics: The cars in Stuntman aren't quite as detailed or shiny as Gran Turismo 3, but they look good nonetheless. There are a large variety of vehicles that you use, from a Mustang GT to a police car to a tuk-tuk and a Lotus. None of the cars are officially licensed, but you can tell what they are supposed to resemble. The sets themselves are well detailed, with plenty of boxes, barrels and boards to smash and people to run off the road. Backgrounds are well done, with many different locales, ranging from docks to country back roads, to arctic tundra and cramped city streets. The CG movies are average for PS2, but when you see them inter-cut with clips of your stunt sequences, it makes them infinitely more interesting.

Audio: The soundtrack and audio in Stuntman are great. The director seems to get more and more aggravated with each stunt you fail, and his bellowed comments on each stunt are well voiced. The music for each level is appropriate, you have country music on the Whoopin' and a Hollerin' level, James Bond-esque tracks on the Live Twice for Tomorrow level, and thumping drum and bass techno for the Stunt Arena. Cars sound as you would expect, the weaker cars sound wimpy while the muscle cars have deep, rumbling engines and tire-screeching take offs. The police cars have sirens, while the General Lee car has a great Dixieland style tune for its horn.

The Bad: I won't lie to you; this game is insanely difficult. The frustration level goes from mild to excruciating about the 10th time you attempt the same stunt. Load times are fairly large, but once the level loads, it's only about a 10 second wait to reset everything so you can try again. The stunts are all relayed to you as you drive, there is no tutorial that you can watch to see how it's done, and therefore much of the game is trial and error. If you don't have lots of patience or are easily frustrated, this game will get on your nerves very quickly.

Overall though, I enjoyed Stuntman. I like games that reward precision and persistence, both of which are a requirement if you want to get anywhere in Stuntman. I really enjoyed replaying the stunts to try and make them look better. Pulling off a perfect run and then watching a very cinematic replay of your stunts gives a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, and you can save your favorite replays and show them off to friends. For those who raced hundreds of laps to shave seconds off their lap times in GT3, or have spent hours driving around the city in GTA3 to see what kinds of insane jumps they could pull off, this game is perfect for you. Everyone else should rent though, as the high difficulty may turn you off early in the game.

- - Darken Rahl

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