For a series that's only on its second title, the Stuntman franchise already has quite a history. In 2002, Reflections (the developers of the Driver franchise) teamed up with Atari to release Stuntman, a game that focused on the career of a professional stuntman. The game had an okay premise that was let down because the game was remarkably unforgiving and featured excessive loading. As part of Atari liquidating its properties, THQ announced at E3 2006 that they had acquired the rights to the Stuntman franchise. Here we are a year later with Stuntman: Ignition, with a new developer on board (Paradigm Entertainment) and with just about every issue fixed from the previous game Stuntman Ignition is a clever game that's incredibly enjoyable.
The premise for Ignition is the same as in the 2002 title - you assume the role of a Hollywood Stuntman. The career mode in the game takes you through six different films which each contain six missions. For each of these missions the objectives are different. For example, in the first film Aftershock some of the stunts you'll need to perform will include sliding past cars, jumping over obstacles, setting your car on fire and pulling off u-turns. Each mission generally contains about ten to twenty stunts to pull off, but some of the tougher missions feature much more. Whereas in the first game if you missed a stunt you'd need to repeat the whole take again, in Ignition you're given five chances. If you miss five stunts you'll need to re-shoot the film. There is also an easy mode though, which will give you even more chances, so it's clear this time around Paradigm has made the game a lot more accessible.
Each mission only goes for few minutes, with some lasting under a minute, but this doesn't mean the career mode can be completed in half an hour. The producer gives you a run down of the stunts you'll be required to do at the beginning of each mission, but a lot of the time you'll need to replay a mission a few times to get the hang of exactly what you're supposed to do. The director yells out instructions in real time while you're on a mission and the icons in a mission will specify what stunt you're supposed to pull off, but anybody who can complete a mission on the first run is a very talented (and quick thinking) driver. As you progress through a stunt you'll end points for performing stunts and stringing together stunts. After you complete a mission, you'll be given a rating out of five based on the score you've accumulated during the take. When you first begin you'll end up with a few one star results but your skills gradually improve and you get used to the stunts as you move further through the career mode.
While the career mode is quite enjoyable it can be rather limited and restrictive. If you're the type of gamer who likes to vary your gameplay a bit, and go off on a tangent during a game, then you'll become frustrated very quickly with Stuntman Ignition. As soon as you leave the stunt area you'll immediately fail a mission. The game also relies on getting gamers to repeat missions to get five stars. To get the most out of the game you really have to be a perfectionist who just simply can't stand seeing a four star ranking rather than a five star ranking in a mission. Within the career mode there are also rehearsals, which are quick tutorials which take you through executing special moves, there is also an odd jobs option. The odd jobs are smaller missions which may include arena shows and commercials.
Even though you do get five chances during a take, the filming will sometimes restart if you only move a little out of shot, which is a little frustrating (especially during Overdrive which for some reason seems a little less forgiving). The good news is that if you do happen to drive off course and fail then hitting the restart button doesn't induce a minutes worth of loading, which is something you'll be thankful for when you do have to restart (which will probably be several times). Overall you'll probabaly want to play through the career mode through to the end. Each of the six movies are significantly different (and are take-offs of films such as the Dukes of Hazzard and Dante's Peak) and you'll also get to drive a large range of vehicles which all handle differently.
As you progress through the career mode you'll unlock props which can be used in the constructor mode. The constructor mode features constructor challenges and a freestyle arena. In the freestyle arena you can select an arena (which is blank, none of the movies can be selected unfortunately) and then edit the arena to include different objects, such as ramps, and objects to smash through. After you've constructed your arena you can test it out. The constructor challenges feature predetermined director stunts, and you'll need to put props in these stunt areas to pull off the stunts. Those who just want to play a quick game can also select the quick fix option to jump into either a director's mission or just drive around freestyle.
Ignition also includes a few multiplayer modes including backlot battle and backlot race. The backlot race is a straightforward race where you'll gain nitro by pulling off stunts. The backlot battle requires gamers to perform as many stunts as possible in a certain amount of laps.
Graphically Stuntman Ignition looks quite impressive. Each level is rather big and imaginative. The cars also look impressive and you'll encounter plenty of destruction and explosions. The trade off for all this is that sometimes the frame rate staggers a little. The sound is okay. There is a different soundtrack for each film but the stunt coordinator's comments quickly become repetitive and annoying.
If you just play through the career mode without worrying about scoring as high as possible then the game can be completed in six hours or so. However, perfecting every mission is a task that will take a lot longer. The achievements in the game are well scattered so while you'll get plenty of points just playing through the game minimally you'll need to get five stars in every film to unlock all 1000 points.
It's clear that before development even began on Stuntman Ignition Paradigm Entertain took a close look at the many faults of the original Stuntman game and made it an aim to eradicate these. The long loading times and unforgiving gameplay of the previous game is no longer an issue but Stuntman Ignition does still feature some trial and error gameplay. Overall though Stuntman Ignition is an enjoyable game and a reboot for the Stuntman franchise.