Stuntman Ignition (PS3)

Stuntman Ignition doesn’t let you off lightly – if you’re not good enough the game has no problems with dealing out the insults. Essentially a series of consistent mini-games all based around driving in one form or another, Ignition is the epitome of trial and error: you’ll never get a five-star rating on your first attempt, and more often than not walk away bruised and ashamed with just two or three stars – not going to help the film’s box office but enough to let you try the next stunt.

Whether or not this is anything at all like the real day-to-day scrapes of jobbing stuntmen across the World, we had a huge amount of fun with what the game throws at you, but anyone expecting a particularly deep title will be disappointed. This really is videogaming for the attention deficient crowd, with a brief car chase, a few smashed crates and a jump over burning lava totally no more than a minute or two of your time. Failure to hit a designated target or complete a drift in the glowing box demerits you a notch, too many and you’re forced to restart, and each level is timed too.

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So, with practice, you’re able to pass the levels with enough grace to make a replay worth watching, but it’s in the combo-linking that the game actually takes hold of you. Getting the maximum points possible is optional of course, and downright difficult later in the game, but pulling off a perfect run on each of the movies’ set pieces is a wonderful achievement at any level; with explosions, bad guys and wooden structures all crashing around you Stuntman Ignition is great fun to master.

There are numerous movies that you’ll take part in, and each has six scenes that you must provide all the stunt driving for. Each movie has its own theme (and own Director and style) and provides welcome changes in pace and environment, especially as progress isn’t as linear as you’d think with sideways movement between movies possible with a generously low amount of points as requirements. Ignition is addictive if you want to get the most out of each stunt, and that’s perhaps the greatest quality a videogame can offer.

Presentation is great throughout, with slick menus and pre-movie introductions, and re-trying a failed stunt is instant with loading times acceptable throughout the rest of the game. Complete a movie and you’re treated to the official trailer for the film, which naturally features your stunts. The game does require an additional online sign-on though, which seems odd as this is the first PS3 game we’ve played that sits offline until you choose to connect, although you’ll still get the regular PSN notifications overlaid as normal.

Where the game does fall short, then, is lifespan. Although maxing the stunts will take weeks of dedication, and there’s a comprehensive challenge mode (complete with course designer) the single player isn’t quite as vast as we’d have liked, and the constant restarting of levels only emphasises the somewhat falsely-extended playtime. There’s a multiplayer section, mind, with races and stunts on offer, but take up seemed low when we were reviewing Stuntman, we can only presume most were still perfecting their career mode before venturing online.

Visually it’s a mixed bag: the frame rate dances between 30 and 60 (we’d have preferred a locked 30 in this case) and the models are all a bit last-gen. That said, there’s some impressive effects and time has been spent on giving each course its own distinct identity. The music’s great, however, and perfectly suited to each movie, and the squeals, crashes and bangs sound fantastic in 5.1 surround.

So, if you can put up with the repetitive nature of the game, there’s plenty to enjoy here. Ignition clearly isn’t for everyone, but fans of the original will lap this up and newcomers too if they want to prove their gaming credentials. Sure, it’s not the prettiest game but there’s little else on the PS3 that can offer the thrill of a perfect stunt run, and those of an addictive nature will appreciate that just-one-more-try approach to achieve those five star ratings.

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