April 11, 2007 - With Stuntman: Ignition, THQ and Paradigm Entertainment aim to put gamers into the shoes of the world's most dangerous stunt driver. Featuring a number of movies with action sequences that put the car chase in The Rock to shame, nailing the game's chaotic scenes takes patience, practice and, most of all, lots of skill.
This week we spent some time performing take after take in the high-octane action flick Overdrive. The movie features two scenes, Kill Stone and Chaser, both of which have you driving at high speed through a tight and compact city while running from helicopters. While the previous film we shot played, Aftershock, featured plenty of open streets and only scattered bits of traffic to deal with, Overdrive is a much different experience. The streets are littered with cars, and almost every turn puts you face-to-face with oncoming traffic running down tight corridors. This one takes lots of practice in order to learn where cars and such are going to be around every corner, as small errors wind up have a big, negative impact on your score.
Overdrive features plenty of tight alleyways like this one.
Kill Stone puts you behind the wheel of a classic muscle car (that very much resembles a 1960s Mustang) as an undercover police officer, attempting to both flee from and take out a helicopter that's firing missiles your way. The city in Overdrive looks to be very much inspired by San Francisco, with plenty of hills to provide jumps and cable cars to make for obstacles. Much of the action in Kill Stone revolves around you skidding around corners, carefully flying down alleyways and trading paint with other cars. At the end of the scene, a tap of the action button unleashes your car's nitrous and you ram straight into a van which (somehow) takes down the hovering helicopter.
Chaser is similar to Kill Stone in many ways, but your stunts are based more on exquisite driving rather than brute force. In this scene, you drive an exotic sports car that looks very similar to a Lamborghini of some sort and begin by reversing at high speeds underneath a flatbed truck and then performing a 180 spin. Dodging cable cars, passing by explosions and such make up the bulk of the level, while you catch air and fly over an entire block at one point and make a hair-pin turn under a second flatbed truck at another. The finale has you utilize a few nicely-placed ramps to leap up a couple stories before turning your exotic car into a missile and ramp head-on into the helicopter in mid-air. Good stuff.
As we mentioned in our previous looks at the game, Stuntman: Ignition's scoring works on a multiplier system and your overall rating for the shoot is based on how well you score. While nabbing a four-star rating hasn't proven to be too difficult, earning a full five-star rating requires that you string together the entire level into one giant combo. Your combo timer (which is hidden from view) runs out quick, so you have to really work to keep things going. Be it by skidding around corners to driving near a wall for some near miss points or narrowly dodging oncoming vehicles, you'll need to actively look for new ways to earn points between the main stunt spots in order to keep the points racking up.
When the ground is on fire, take to the air.
So many things add to your score that your total can change drastically from round to round. While we would generally finish in the 300,000 or 400,000 point range on either scene, a "bad" run would net us only around 150,000 points or so, while our record on both scenes is just under 850,000. Being able to string together stunts is paramount to your success, and perfecting a scene will have you playing it over and over again to nail that five star rating.
Luckily, the level triggers, traffic and such are always situated in the same place, so while your timing may have you see things in slightly different positions, cars always take the same paths and appear in the same spots. In other words, once you've practiced the scene, you won't have to play a guessing game and hope that things are aligned to nail a perfect score. It won't be easy, but at least the game is on your side in this respect.