Stuntman Update

We get a new look at Reflections' upcoming stunt game.

Reflections, the studio responsible for the Driver series, is bringing its latest to the PS2. Titled Stuntman, the game expands upon Driver's manic cinematic focus, making fancy driving the object, rather than the reward.

As the story goes, you are a rookie stuntman with your eyes on the big time. Starting at Hollywood's proverbial gutter, you make your way up the auto wrecker food chain, taking on bigger, more glamorous assignments. In game terms, this equates to six levels: from London gangsters films (the bottom) and Indiana Jones pulpish adventures to 007-style superspy flicks (the crème de la crème). Each stage, essentially, will put you at the mercy of a demanding film director, who very clearly tells you what stunts he'll want you to perform for any given scene. One stage, for instance, he could have you flying through a billboard onto a parked cop car after barrel-rolling off of a loading ramp. After each scene, you'll be rated as to how well you did. If your average for each stage (that is, each film you work on) is 75 percent or greater, then you get to move on to the next film. And after each stage is up, you'll be treated to a mock film trailer, throughout which will be interspersed actual footage of you performing the stage's stunts.

A host of graphical niceties make it all look convincing. A detailed real-time shadowing system has been worked into the graphics engine, which causes the cars to cast realistic shadows that respond convincingly to level geometry, and light sources. Drive next to a bush, for instance, and your car's shadow will be cast on it, wrapping around each individual branch and leaf. The cars also deform realistically: Each one's guts is fully rendered, and, just as in Driver, collisions will cause random parts of your chassis to fly off. This time around, however, the cars will shed actual car parts, rather than nondescript, triangular polygons. The shed debris will also be interactive: During his demo of the game, Reflections' Martin Edmundson drove over a wheel that came of the car to illustrate this.

Fans of the Driver series will be pleased to know that Reflections has decided to keep the series' control scheme and physics intact in Stuntman. Handbrakes will be used to great effect, which will result in the expected powerslides. You'll get to control a pretty wide variety of cars, though--everything from a mock Mercury Capri to a rickshaw, and even an Aston Martin look-alike, depending on what film you're stunting for.

We were also treated to a brief demo of the game's scene editor. Basically, it lets you set up stunt scenes, by means of a variety of preset props, including ramps, barrels, oil canisters, and the like. Though most set pieces are locked at the start, you'll begin to unlock some components as you progress through the game's career mode. Presumably, you'll be able to use pieces in your own creations as you encounter them throughout the various set you'll work in.

The game has definitely been polished up a good deal since we last saw it. Frame rates are very healthy, and the cars and environments look full and detailed. We'll have media for you early next week, so keep your eyes on this space. Stuntman is due out around the middle of next year.

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