Take a look at these new shots of Infogrames' March release, Stuntman. Developed by Reflections (the same team behind the Driver series), the game dares you to perform a series of automobile stunts for an action movie. The flashier you drive, the more points you get. It seems like a natural step for Reflections to make a game like this. After all, the best parts of Driver 1 and 2 were the chase-oriented minigames.
There's no way to be truly fair to this title without explaining what I really, really think about it. In order to do that, I'm going to give you a laundry list, and hope it all sorts out in the end.
Stuntman is your typical driving game with an atypical setting. You're a stuntman, completing a series of stunt missions that end up going into a film. Drive well, and you'll get cash, promotions, and cars. Drive poorly and' well, you'll lose.
To start with, the game is pretty good, at least in graphics and audio. The music is boring and repetitive, but isn't obtrusive. Graphically, its amazing to see how nice these cars look, how realistically the people scatter, and how detailed the structures are. Since each level is themed, you'll also see a good consistency in each movie. It plays interestingly enough, with fairly good control of your car, and some interesting driving choices.
And now, the bad' Anything can flip your car, including a two-inch curb, a box, or your grandmother. It's amazing how realistically these cars handle until they hit something' like an evening breeze. Even though you only need 80% of the total stunts in a mission (higher for the later levels), if you miss just one stunt, you're probably so far behind you'd better start over. Here's my favorite: There are twenty-five levels spread over six different movies. Each requires between five and thirty attempts, some taking up to an hour. What that creates is about two hours of game play, artificially inflated to eight. Throw in a few extra driving games, and you've got another couple hours of game play, at most. All of the missions are difficult, some insanely so, many requiring luck, and nothing else.
Stuntman is a poor rental at best.
Fans of Driver should be looking forward to Reflections’ Stuntman, due to hit the PS2 in May. At least, that’s what publisher Infogrames is counting on. Take on the role of a rookie stunt-car driver motoring through six gruelling movie sets based on a variety of genres: Indiana Jones style, English gangster movie, spy blockbuster, political thriller-even the Dukes ofHazzard gets a nod! Of course, your cars change with each situation, too. The new physics engine seems likely to set the standard for future PS2 driving games as you skid, roll and fly your way through the film sets, gaining marks for finesse along the way.
Start out as a beginner stuntman who works on low-budget films and makes extra cash by performing death-defying feats at the local short track, then work your way up to performing on the equivalent of a Bond film. Along the way you'll learn to do things like barrel rolls, nitro-assisted jumps and threading the needle through high-speed, oncoming traffic. The adrenaline rush is unparalleled. I don't think any other title we've reviewed in the past couple years has caused more swearing (or property damage, in the case of Crispin "Cone of Violence" Boyer). There's no denying that this game is friggin' hard in certain spots--perhaps too hard, but that's debatable. If you're the type of player who doesn't relish spending over an hour or more on a specific mission, then don't even bother with Stuntman. But know that none of the challenges are impossible--they just require some major precision driving, which I love. After being frustrated on a particular stunt for so long, the feeling of accomplishment you finally get out of finishing the damn thing drives you to work your ass off at whatever the director has in store for you next. And the sheer variety of the six films in the game means you're in completely new vehicles and settings every few missions. From hopping rooftop to rooftop in a snowmobile, to crushing cars in a monster truck, to racing through the hills of Monaco in the latest sports car, I never got bored with Stuntman. It's like a bunch of different driving games in one package. The cars all handle slightly differently but still retain that same feel you got in the first two Driver games on the PSi. So I guess the bottom line is that Stuntman is definitely an acquired taste Oust watching people play it around this office proves that), but if you get into it, you really get into it."]
Part thrill ride, part medieval torture, Stuntman had me screaming, "Give me a [freakin'] break!" more times than my co-workers could count. Sure, the graphics, control and physics here are super-duper. It's just that the actual gameplay can get as repetitive as scrawling "I'm a stuntman!" a thousand times on a chalkboard. Too many stunt sequences are too long, and even the tiniest mistakes (say, hitting a curb the wrong way) foul you up, forcing you to redo the levels over and over and over. The funny thing: I kept coming back for more pain, and when I finally beat a stage, I felt like the happiest gamer in the world. Well, at least until the next level.
If I were a real stuntman, I'd hope my director would give me a briefing of what I was expected to do before he actually ran me through the gauntlet. Stuntman does not do that. It forces you to wing every damn stunt over and over (the director barks orders at you on-the-fly) until you learn the course. It's just frustrating, and the game's overly flippy physics and periodically nasty slowdown make every car drive like a bus. Even worse, if your timing is off and you screw up a stunt, you might as well start over and enjoy the fat load times. That's called "artificial replay value" folks, and even the little CG movies can't fix that.