Anyway you look at it, Stuntman: Ignition isn't a racing game. Sure, there are cars, you drive them, and so on...but there're no tracks to speak of, you won't be making laps, you won't be tricking your car out, tuning it, never will you see a "pit stop."
It might be closer in line with the Burnout series' "crash mode" where you have a designated objective - in the case of Ignition, it's to string stunts together - but the way you accomplish it is by taking advantage of every inch of the course, every car and flaming semi, in order to get the five-star rating. You are, in this case, not just crashing on purpose (although you'll have to brush some vehicles and break through barriers) but trying to create the most visceral Hollywood stunt, or die trying.
The demo is up on Xbox Live now, and it's one worth checking out. It feels like a simple formula: "R Trigger" is accelerate ("L" is brake"), the "B" button is the handbrake (for powersliding) and the "Y" button is the action button
, which does anything from using turbo boost to shooting rockets. The game seems to control more like the original Driver for PlayStation 1 if I may conjure up old flames. The physics are mostly exaggerated, but in a pleasant way - the way hitting a car does not
send you, immediately, to the emergency room.
That is to say, it doesn't prize it's realism, an illness that most games have been catching lately. But don't think I'm railing against the likes of Forza 2. But it's nice to find games like this one and Overlord where everyday life isn't reduced to some opuscular reality, and the creators don't take themselves too seriously.
In Stuntman: Ignition, you speed down chasms and through cities doing what a stuntman does: stunt. You drive through each level, by illuminated tags which detail the stunt you have to perform. The director, too, will shout directions out to you as you progress. Hitting each stunt strings your score together, eventually netting you huge points, and a good rating.
And it's one of those games that will have you utilizing the "Replay" feature, which uses some clever camera angles, many from the action films the game is spoofing. It's a blast to see your stuntman going through the movie for real and seeing what kind of havok you caused by your driving.
The demo offers up 3 levels: 2 of them come from the disaster film "Aftershock" (Hello, "Dante's Peak" and "Volcano") and the last is an ice level from the spy film "Never Kill Me Again" (This one resembles the likes of "Die Another Day").
Of the three, each level has high points, low points. I'm not certain of my favorite now, although I spent more time on the "Never Kill Me Again" level and really liked it. The game does make you feel like you're really "in" a movie as best it can, although you'll see the director and cameramen sitting beside the set (You can actually run them over, too, although that is unadvisable). But while it mesmerizes you with Hollywood hoobajoo (is that the technical word?), it exhilirates when in motion and actually performing the stunts. A wrong turn and you'll botch the scene and get a low rating, have to start over.
I found that the game gives quite a bit of laughs as well, a nice change of pace from such sobriety as The Darkness and Forza 2. Give it a shot, and maybe have some friends over as well: although the demo is not multiplayer, it's the kind of game where you pass the controller, relax, and watch some stunts.