There's something to be said for really having to try hard. While many games more or less let you waltz through them, with the story, setting and experience being more important than the challenge, Stuntman: Ignition makes you work for everything. I don't imagine a stuntman's life to be all that easy, no doubt filled with near death experiences and broken limbs, so you could say Ignition is somewhat of a life sim.
For fans of the original Stuntman, Ignition sticks largely to the same formula. You play a driver who performs various stunts on the sets of new movies, the odd commercial and stunt exhibitions. Instead of simply performing one stunt, cutting, and then trying another, you drive through lengthy sections where you'll need to perform a number of stunts without incurring too many fails.
The game is split into movies, with each movie featuring six scenes that you need to drive in. Your rating in each scene will earn you stars, which in turn increase your star rating, which determines what movies you can drive in. For the most part driving to earn 2-Star ratings in each scene doesn't take too much trouble, but doing so won't reward you with enough stars to open up the later movies. Taking part in individual events that don't allow for a single failure helps increase your rank, but you'll almost certainly need to re-record scenes and try for better ratings.
And this is where the game is likely to come under most criticism. If the idea of having to replay scenes over and over again doesn't appeal to you, skip Stuntman: Ignition. In truth, when you're going for high star ratings (hitting every stunt and attempting to chain together combos) the game has a similar feel to sim racers, where you can spend days taking a fraction of a second off your best lap times. One slip up there and you restart, and the same is true in Ignition - thankfully restarting is quick and painless.
It makes for a highly addictive game that simply refuses to be turned off. After an hour of trying the same scene, only to fail at the last moment, there's no way you'll want to give in and admit defeat. Add in the ability to upload your replays for the world to see and you have something that is perfect for the elitist gamer who thrives on one-upping other players.
The stunts themselves vary quite a bit, with the most common being the powerslide, 180 degree turn and simply pressing the action button once you reach a certain mark. Other moves occur far less frequently, such as the reverse 180 degree turn, driving on two wheels and spinning 360 degrees while in the air. The game gives you adequate training before you encounter a new stunt, but you'll only really nail them in the movies after considerable play. It's not that they're particularly hard to pull off on their own, but doing them in the right place and at the right time proves to be rather tricky.
The end result of a successfully completed movie is a movie trailer, complete with your scenes. It's a nice touch, but also serves to highlight one of the game's inherent problems: you only drive. The trailers are filled with action scenes but you only ever get to drive. While perhaps a little too ambitious, giving players the ability to star in on-foot action sequences or to pilot some of the air vehicles would have made for a more diverse game and given a more overall stuntman feel.
That quibble aside, Stuntman: Ignition is a highly entertaining and addictive score-based game. The included online multiplayer modes aren't quite as captivating, but hardcore stunters will appreciate the effort that's gone into designing workable games around a less than conventional game mechanic. Presentation is also solid, although not breathtaking. Certain movies look better than others and the mixture of CG and in-game footage during trailers makes these rewards look a little odd. Audio work is usually excellent, with the comical movie directors being well thought out.
There's absolutely no getting away from the fact that Stuntman: Ignition is often an infuriating game, but that doesn't automatically make it a bad one. At times it feels as rigid as an old-fashioned school cane, but perseverance will reveal a highly rewarding experience. A stuntman's life is hard, but when you pull off that career defining stunt, the pain is a distant memory.