Team 17 is famous for the Worms series--the timeless turn-based strategy game with countless iterations. Stunt GP is the latest project out of the UK-based studio, and it's been in the works, in some form, for quite some time. It was originally intended as a Dreamcast game, though after some hopping about, it ended up in Titus' lap, and it was decided that the PS2 was the ideal platform for it. But for all this drama leading up to its release, Stunt GP doesn't really have a whole lot going for it. The game was never too solid to begin with--aside from its amusing track design and decent customization elements, there really isn't anything much there in regard to actual compelling gameplay.
In Stunt GP, you race remote-controlled cars on huge, twisty electric-toy-track-styled courses. The events are straight-up races, in which you take on a series of AI-controlled drones for a few longish laps. The tracks themselves are the game's most inspired element. Most of them resemble roller coaster tracks more than anything else, and many of them get pretty outlandish. Ramps, bumps, and other protrusions litter most of the courses, and these serve as the catalysts for Stunt GP's trick element. This would have been cool, were Stunt GP's trick system thoughtfully designed.
The trick system is fairly limited, and most of the time you'll feel as if the game's nutty physics model is the one having all the fun. Basically, you execute tricks while in the air, with combinations of the analog stick and R1 button (which also serves as the hand-brake button). Soon after your first trick, though, you'll get the feeling that you're doing something wrong--tricks won't land correctly, or your car will behave like a turbocharged shuriken. It's not you, however. Stunt GP's system allows for only two types of tricks: one that causes you to flip, spastically and continuously, and another that lets you rotate on your axis. You perform the former with an R1 plus up/down input and the latter with an R1 plus right/left command. But regardless of what you push, the default trick action seems to be the aforementioned flip madness. You can also score trick points from especially cool powerslides and from simply catching big air. But as you've probably deduced, the disparate elements of this system don't really mesh in any satisfying manner. In the end, it's like Rumble Racing's simple-yet-engaging trick mode, only with a whole lot less precision and a distinct lack of fun.
The point of all this tricking is to acquire money to upgrade your car in the game's championship mode. Much like in the recently released Gadget Racers, you can upgrade many of your car's systems, from the CPU, engine, and brakes, to the tires, turbo boost, and transmission. As in any driving game's simulation mode, it's easy to become engrossed in the process of empowering your little racers. Given the limitations of the gameplay, though, it's unlikely that you'll get too far in the process.
At the very least, the game looks somewhat decent. The racers themselves feel pretty homogeneously designed, but that's mostly due to the default, close-up rear view that you're likely to use. When playing in the stunt mode or watching the game's attract mode, you'll actually notice that the cars look kind of neat. The frame rate isn't blazing, but it's reasonably consistent--it hovers around the neighborhood of 30fps at all times. Areas thick with drones can affect this a bit, but not too seriously. The environmental designs are pretty interesting as well, though they don't often feel as much like RC tracks as they should; you'll often do a double take at the human-sized objects scattered throughout for the purpose of context. Technically, though, it's clear that the game used to be a Dreamcast game--the textures are kind of low-res, and the environmental geometry is fairly simple. Still, none of it is glaring enough to actually stick out in a serious way.
There are a few auxiliary modes thrown in, though only one is particularly noteworthy--the stunt mode. Basically, you're given access to a concave pool course, replete with ramps, and you're allowed to go nuts, as it were, with the game's wonky physics and trick system. What's surprising, though, is that this is actually pretty amusing. The altered camera perspective does wonders for the mode--it's a trailing, overhead view--and really makes you feel that the game should have centered on this sort of thing, rather than the halfhearted racing.
Halfhearted racing is what you're left with, though, and even if you're still hankering for something along those lines--despite the existence of RC de GO!, Gadget Racers, and R/C Revenge 2--you'll still likely be disappointed by Stunt GP. It's recommended that you pass this one up and wait for a more solid entry in the genre. One is bound to surface soon enough.