Review by: Matthew Dujnic
Published: August 16, 2002
All reviews are subjective. Anyone who tells you otherwise simply doesn’t have a good grasp of the English language. Now and then, though, something comes along that may make a reviewer too subjective – that is, biased. Reflections’ Stuntman has arrived, and it’s only fair to mention up front that I’m a car stunt junkie. I’ve got all the old Halicki and McQueen movies, and after E3 2002, I was very close to taking a stunt driving course myself. Alas, that plan fell through, but now I have Stuntman. Can it satisfy the reckless driver in me?
The core of Stuntman is the career mode, where you progress from job to job, earning pay for stunts and collecting a garage full of cars. Like anybody in the business, you start small; your big break comes when you’re hired on to do the driving in “Toothless in Wapping,” a low-budget British gangster comedy that echos loudly of Guy Richie’s Lock Stock and Snatch. From there, you move to progressively bigger movies, finally landing gigs on big-budget projects such as “Scarab of Lost Souls” and “Live Twice for Tomorrow” (Indiana Jones and James Bond, respectively).
If you’ve ever played Driver, which originated from the same development house, you’ll know exactly how Stuntman controls: it’s straightforward arcade racing. However, instead of Driver’s free range approach, Stuntman is rigidly linear, and the levels play out like obstacle courses, requiring quick reflexes and a lot of memorization. The director will relay instructions to you constantly as you drive through the stunt path, and his instructions will correspond to yellow icons that appear on the course. You’ll be crashing gates, chasing cars, jumping through moving trains, and performing finishing moves. The finishing moves are especially charming, as the research that went into this game shows through here. Cannon rolls, rail flips, and many other behind-the-scenes tricks are all faithfully represented, and a budding stunt enthusiast might even learn a few fun factoids.
This is still for fun, though, so the game does put aside some of the realism. Whereas a real-life stunter would pull off one trick at a time, and leave the continuity to the editor, you’ll be required to complete entire chase sequences in one go. From beginning to end, if you fall behind, wreck the car, or go off course, you’ll have to start all over. Though your alter ego talks about each stunt before he does it, there is no formal walkthrough of the stunt path. This provides a great deal of challenge, as you’ll basically have to learn the stunts as you go, and trust your reflexes. The trial-and-error element is offset by the sheer fun of speeding around in a whole host of cool cars (there are about 50 to unlock), coupled with the spectacular crashes you’ll inevitably cause. The physics model is quite intricate, and it does great justice to getting sandwiched by two freight trains.