Game Reviews | Mar 3rd, 2005

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Company: Atari
Platform: Playstation 2
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What’s it about? Take the wheel of the stunt car. You are a rookie driver who has to work his way up from low budget B-Films to Hollywood blockbusters, performing more dangerous and death defying stunts as you progress through your career.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: The idea surrounding Stuntman is a great one. You can live out your fantasies of performing daring stunts that would probably get you killed in real life. You work on a variety of different movie sets and perform all sorts of crazy stunts. The sets range from gangster movies similar to that of Scarface to Dukes Of Hazzard and James Bond rip-offs. The graphics are fairly decent during the driving sequences and top notch during the replays. There are many unlockables in the game such as new cars, movie sequences, and a variety of different stunt items such as ramps and burning hoops. Once you perform all of the stunts on a certain set, a long animated movie trailer follows that shows the stunts that you have performed. This is a really cool feature and it added something to look forward to after completing the level. Between movies you can practice your skills in an old-fashioned stunt show ala Evil Kneival. Also included are some DVD features that contain an interview with an actual Hollywood stuntman, a making of Stuntman documentary, and a preview of Driver 3.

Stuntman has three modes of play. Career Mode, Stunt Constructor, and Driving Games. Career mode allows you to progress through the career of a rookie stuntman. In Stunt Constructor you can build your own stunt arena and perform various stunts with the unlocked vehicles and items. The final mode is the Driving Games mode. This option provides a series of driving tests that push your talents to the max.

All of that is great in theory, but then you actually play the game. Stuntman is supposed to mimic the movie making process. You have to perform a series of actions and stunts all in the same take. This is where the game gets annoying. You have an invisible time limit to performing these tasks. Right off of the bat, you have to perform about 20 different tasks, one after another nonstop. You can miss a certain number of tasks but this affects your accuracy rating. There are certain actions that are important to the scene and if you miss one of these then you have to start all over from the beginning of the scene. It is almost impossible to get through a scene in one take. You will end up playing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. At times it was very frustrating and just annoying to have to repeat the same thing a dozen times. Apparently the movie community in this video game world has never heard of the editing process. This problem could have been solved with the incorporation of checkpoints. There is just no reason to play the whole scene over again.

As mentioned above, the graphics are decent in a few instances but the character models are not on par with the rest of the game. They look stiff and very unrealistic. It was if the developers didn’t really care as much about the characters sequences and focused more on the driving aspect of the game. It is a driving game, but this stands out like a sore thumb.

The load time on this game is horrible. Wait 30 seconds until the name of the level comes up then a stuntman talks for 30 seconds another 45 seconds until the actual level appears. Every time you have to redo a stunt there is about a 20 second wait. It would have been too easy to just automatically restart the scene. Most of the time you will only play the scene for a few seconds, something will go wrong and you will have to wait 20 seconds to restart. This is another reason why this game is so annoying. You spend more time waiting than playing. The developers could have made these sequences and the actual level load at the same time and eliminated the restart time altogether.

Replay Value: The concept that drives Stuntman is a good one, but it doesn’t translate well with this game. Some of the stunts are just down right difficult to complete and you will probably want to slam your controller against the wall on many occasions. A checkpoint system would make the game a little easier and a hell of a lot less frustrating. I just can’t find a game that frustrates the player to this extent very much fun.

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