considers a career change
Behind the wheel
of a car, I consider myself
to be both a safe and considerate driver. However, behind
the joystick of a driving game, I admit that
I'm a complete
and utter lunatic!
Last autumn I
purchased Stuntman, a new game by Atari for
the PlayStation 2 console. Stuntman is the latest
addition to the highly respected Driver series
by Reflections, a subsidiary of Infogrames (the
new owner of Atari). With such an established heritage
I understandably had high expectations.
The concept is
simple (and remarkably original)... you are a young
and gifted rookie driver trying
to make a name for yourself.
As your talent and experience grow, so your
career blossoms. Easy eh?
The astute among
you may have noticed that in the previous
paragraph I wrote "rookie driver",
not "rookie stuntman", as the developers sadly
decided not to encompass the numerous other
types of stunts performed by today's stuntman. Stuntman is a driving game, pure
and simple. Now, upon reflection (get it?!),
Stuntman would have been more appropriately
titled Stunt Driver - but I digress...
The game opens
with a rather nice cinematic trailer (screen-shots below)
showing the progression of the stuntman from the early days of cinematography
to the big budget Hollywood blockbuster. After which
a stomping techo tune kicks in while you select
your language and wait for the main menu to
main menu, you can select from six options;
Stuntman Career, Stunt Constructor,
Driving Games, Load Game, Set
Up and DVD Extras.
is the main game mode of Stuntman. It
is from here that you begin
your stuntman career by working on a low budget
film called Toothless in Wapping. If
you manage to prove your worth as a stunt driver,
you will progress on to other films with bigger
budgets where you will be asked to perform
even more dangerous stunts.
Each of the film
titles used in Stuntman appear to
be parodies of popular films we all know and
love. For example, Toothless in Wapping
is easily a parody of Lock Stock and Two
Smoking Barrels, while Live Twice For
Tomorrow is obviously a parody of Tomorrow
Never Dies (007). The other cleverly named
film titles in Stuntman include; A
Whoopin' And A Hollerin', Blood Oath,
Conspiracy and Scarab of Lost Souls.
each film, a 3D animation of the film is accompanied
by a voice over from the director describing
what the film is about. This is then followed
by a walk-through of the stunts you will be
required to perform within the scene of the
film. At this point I suggest you stop whatever you're doing and listen very carefully as
you'll need all the help you can get.
Why? you ask...
because Stuntman is hard. Totally and utterly, stupidly,
unbelievable, insanely difficult! Anyone who tells
you otherwise is lying!
are not required to remember when and where
you must perform the stunt as video and audio
(courtesy of the director) are provided while
of the 3D animations shown while
the director talks about the stunts
you are to perform.
fit in a quick interview before
The stunts that
you are asked to perform vary from scene to
scene and film to film. They can be anything
from overtaking a car to exploding some pyrotechnics
under your car at the right moment and barrel
rolling your car across a river! To complicate
matters, not only do you have to perform these
stunts correctly and within the scoring zone
(from which you are awarded accuracy points),
you also have to perform them against the clock.
So, think you're
I guarantee that during your first dozen or
so attempts of playing the game, you will
last no longer than 10-15 seconds before the director shouts CUT
and accuses you of going too slow. This is extremely
frustrating, however if you persevere, you'll eventually
master those 180 degree handbrake turns. It just takes time.
each scene takes numerous attempts to master
and complete. This is where Stuntman
ultimately fails... Each time you fail (and you
will - lots of times) you have to wait for the
entire level to load again - which takes ages!
I kid you not. To make matter worse, even if you
manage to reach the end of the scene having
completed each stunt within the time limit,
you might ultimately fail if your accuracy score
is too low.
If this starts
to happen, my recommendation is to simply walk
away and come back to it later. Take a few minutes
breather, make yourself a hot drink or make
a phone call... try anything otherwise you'll
Of course, the
flip side to this is that once you do manage
to achieve a high enough accuracy level and
pass the scene, boy will you feel happy with
yourself ;-) At this point, although you won't
want to, I recommend that rather than moving
on to the next scene or film, that you redo the one
you have just mastered. This has two benefits; the first
is that it gives you the opportunity to improve your skills
(as you are not having to worry about what is
coming next and you can concentrate firmly on
your driving skills), and secondly, you might
manage to improve
your statistics for that scene.
Trust me, you'll
thank me in the long run!
of scene driving statistics screen.
This is where you hope and pray
you have achieved a high enough
infamous loading data screen. Do
not remove the memory card, reset
or switch off the console... or
yet again?! Do you have a driving
As you can see
from the screen-shots below, the graphics are
of a good quality and the visual prompts
for the stunts are obvious enough, if only they
were easy to perform...
in Wapping... more like Frustrated
Whoopin' And A Hollerin'... more like
A Shouting And A Swearing!
As a reward for
completing each film, you are presented with a
car and items to use in the game's Stunt Constructor.
Stunt Constructor is rather a novel idea
and arguably the best - as well as being the
most fun - feature
of Stuntman. Based in the Stunt Arena
(see screen-shots below) you can design and
practice the most wild and wacky stunts imaginable.
Seriously, don't try these at home kids!
the empty Stunt Arena, you can browse
the available toys (term used in Stuntman
to refer to the various ramps, obstacles and
smashable objects at your disposal) and add or move them within
the arena. As you progress in the Career
Mode, more toys are unlocked (including
cars and pyrotechnics!).
The really cool
feature of the Stunt Constructor is that you can
reload and edit previously
saved arenas (assuming you have enough
memory on your PS2 card) which helps add a long-term
attraction to the game.
of a stunt in the arena.
of a stunt in the arena.
feature of Stuntman allows to test your
skills and practice the various diving modes
(Precision, Speed and Stunt) found in the main
game. Sadly these are just as infuriating
as the main game :-(
In the Precision
Tests you need to drive as quickly and accurately
as you can around a test course within a fixed
time limit. This will test your driving skills
to the limit and beyond. In a sick way, I found
this rather fun!
Tests are unlocked after each successful
film that you complete. This is perhaps the
most fun of the three driving modes as you only
need to drive as fast as you can through a series
of cones. Again this test is against the clock.
Sadly, the Stunt Tests are only available
once you have completed the Career Mode and
earned the (impossible) "Lead Stuntman Ranking".
As I have not yet reached this point, I cannot
comment. I like a challenge though.
option allows you to fiddle with the various features
of the game such as adjust the music, speech
and SFX levels as well as turn the subtitles,
vibration, auto reverse camera on and off.
most DVD Extras found on most games, Stuntman's
is probably the first that does not appear to
have been an afterthought and included just
for the hell of it. However, saying that, you
are unlikely to watch them more than once.
a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of Stuntman,
interviews with Vic Armstrong and
Tommy McTague, two real-life stuntmen (both highly respected stuntmen
who have been involved in numerous blockbusters),
as well as
trailers for the Driver 3 and
A nice addition
to the DVD Extras section is the inclusion of
the music videos for the games in-game music
by the artist Yvonne.
what appeared to be a promising game, with an
original twist to the often bland driving game genre, Stuntman did nothing but frustrate
me! As a result I cannot recommend this game
to anyone and given the option to buy this game again, I'd without
hesitation spend my money on something else.
The global covers of
/ Atari Interactive
/ $49.99 / €59.95
- A refreshing approach to
- Create your own stunts in
the Stunt Arena
3D animated cut
- The all too frequent Loading... screen!
in the form of the
- Did I mention the