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Published: Saturday, 8/3/2002

Playstation's 'Stuntman': Plenty of action and frustration

BY JAKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

“Stuntman” (PlayStation 2, $49.99)

So you want to be in movies, eh, tough guy? Well, here's your chance.

“Stuntman” puts you in front of the camera and under the rollcage as a stunt driver in six action films. As you cruise along preset paths, guiding your vehicle through an extremely precise series of jumps, curves, and other white-knuckle maneuvers, the director shouts commands at you that match up with onscreen indicators, letting you know where you need to go.

It's an interesting concept, but how does it play out?

Basically, “Stuntman” requires perfect game play, incessantly repeating a scene of the movie until, at long last, you get it exactly right - cut and print! Having only one difficulty level (very hard) and no checkpoints of any sort means no mercy for anyone but the hardcore gamer. There's nothing more annoying than missing the very last jump of a level and having to start all over again.

A few problems with “Stuntman”: For one, it's supposed to be a stuntman simulator, but I'm sure that actual Hollywood stuntmen would know the entire stunt they're planning to perform before they hop into the car. Here, you start a scene, and then find out what you're supposed to do. How about some direction here! An intro of some sort with the stunt mapped out (maybe during the screen loading?) would really have helped. Or perhaps a practice mode where you could take your time and master the stunts before doing them with the camera rolling.

Another problem: Numerous times when I would try to drive around a corner I'd run into an imaginary wall that would stop me dead in my tracks. It seemed that the curb itself would even stop me every once in a while. Inconsistent and confusing.

Lastly, load times were quite long. An error at the very beginning of a stunt will have you waiting 20-30 seconds for the same scene to reload before starting over. Do this 10 or 20 times while getting the stunt right, and the recurring load time gets very irritating.

While you've got to give a thumbs-up to Stuntman's premise and top-notch action-film stunts, its high level of frustration and repetitiveness will have many gamers throwing their controllers.

Bottom line: it's not a lot of fun, and the frustration levels are high. Sky high.



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