Stuntman Ignition Hands-On

We check out a work-in-progress demo version of this action-packed driving game.

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Earlier today at the THQ Gamers' Day in San Francisco, we had an opportunity to get our hands on a playable version of Stuntman Ignition for the first time. The demo that we played was running on an Xbox 360, but PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 versions are also scheduled for release this summer.

In Stuntman Ignition, you'll assume the role of a wannabe stunt driver trying to make a name for himself in Hollywood. The only way to do that is to impress the directors of commercials and movies, and the only way to do that is to follow their instructions as exactly as possible. The stunts you'll be expected to perform early on in your career are relatively undemanding, but we can tell you from our experiences tonight that things get a lot harder later on.

Stuntman Ignition will feature six movies for you to work on, and each of those will require you to complete at least six stunt sequences to the director's satisfaction. If you played the original Stuntman, you'll know that making just one mistake would invariably mean having to start again--and endure some occasionally lengthy load times in the process. In the upcoming game, you'll be allowed to miss up to five stunts in any given sequences before the director calls for a reshoot, so while you might not achieve a high score, you'll still be able to progress through the game.

The first stunt sequence that we attempted (and after a few attempts, completed) was taken from the fictional movie Aftershock, which we were told is the first movie in the game. Set in a locale loosely based on Vancouver, Aftershock appears to be a disaster movie involving earthquakes and lava flows. As we raced through the burning environment at the wheel of a red sports car, we were prompted to perform basic stunts such as getting dangerously close to other vehicles, driving through narrow gaps, drifting around corners, and hitting jump ramps. Memorable set-pieces from the sequence included a truck's trailer that we drove our low sports car straight underneath, and a carwash that we raced through to put out the flames after the car caught fire.

After successfully completing the Aftershock sequence, we moved to another console where we were able to check out a sequence from the '70s-style cop movie Overdrive--which will be the fourth or fifth movie of the six in the game. Set in a caricature of San Francisco, the stunt sequence tasked us with pursuing a criminal from behind the wheel of an undercover police car. Stunts required en route included overtaking vehicles on busy streets, crashing through boxes, jumping over a taxi rank, and performing a 180 degree turn within the confines of a yellow box superimposed on the environment. Using a makeshift ramp to fly through the air and land on a cargo ship after crashing through some crates that were in the process of being loaded onto it was certainly the most thrilling sequence of the level, although the sheer number of other vehicles and pedestrians in the area ensured that there was never a dull moment.

In addition to being awarded a varying number of points for completing required stunts, you'll earn bonus points for driving dangerously whenever possible. The point bonuses that you earn for getting close to other cars or drifting around corners aren't huge, but in much the same way as ground tricks in skateboarding games, they can be used to string together combos of stunts, earning you points multipliers in the process. At the end of each stunt sequence, your score will be augmented by a rating of between one and five stars, and while talking to the game's lead designer, Shawn Wright, we were told that achieving a five-star rating will require you to complete the entire sequence in a single combo.

We didn't come close to achieving anything like that on this occasion, but we had a lot of fun trying. In the finished game, those of you who also struggle to achieve five-star ratings (it'll get easier as you memorize each sequence) will have the option to check out replays from the top players on the online leaderboards and, if they've opted to share them, import ghost data of their best runs so you can try to imitate and improve upon them. Stuntman Ignition will also boast multiplayer modes of play, but at the time of writing, no information on them has been made available to us. We look forward to bringing you more information as soon as it becomes available.

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