The PlayStation 2 had more than its fair share of underrated video games, thanks in part to the sheer volume of games available. Even worse, such a notoriously difficult machine to program was burdened with overhyped performance expectations, often resulting in great games with modest graphics losing out to mediocre pop gaming based on the lowest common denomenator: brand.

Stuntman was one such victim. Of course having the word "movie" associated with a game presents a natural barrier to hardcore success, but Stuntman had the virtue of setting itself inside the movie business, not one of its products. The idea was brilliant, but its idealism ultimately set expectations too high, from both consumers in terms of techincal impressiveness and the game in terms of its skill requirements.

Now Stuntman: Ignition aims to get it right, and from our hands-on time with the game things are looking extremely promising. Crucially, you can now complete a flawed run and get the practice to help attain perfection, while still having a chance to save the sequence from a retake.

Check out the official blurb to get a feel for what's on offer in Ignition: "Plunge into the adrenaline-fueled role of a Hollywood stunt driver in Stuntman: Ignition, and master the most breathtaking, death-defying vehicle-based stunts ever filmed. As the newest stuntman in Hollywood, you must rise to stardom by combining reckless manoeuvring with perfect execution to unlock big-budget blockbusters and lucrative commercial deals. Create movie-magic in six uniquely-themed films on 36 different stunt runs with over 25 vehicles, or take the action online to challenge rival stuntman in the ultimate backlot showdown."

Success markers include all the best bits of the action driver business: narrow misses, intentional collisions, dodges and of course big jumps. To provide greater context, the game follows various studios and directors on a number of projects. Each comes with its own personality - both film and director - so there's a little interperonal context, too, and thus the demands are made known and how they differ from set to set.

We can just imagine developers Paradigm taking the series further by branching out beyond driving stunts. But in Ignition there is already a good variety of gameplay available, both in terms of the environments and requirements and the vehicles themselves - from big rigs to two-wheelers and the common family sedan, the vehicles handle very well - although far from realistically - and for the most part you only have yourself to blame for getting things wrong.

Multiplayer options are also now available, and you can compete head to head both online and off. A course editor really opens things up online, and we're expecting this to be one of the most popular quick-play games on Live if the community gets behind the back-lot construction idea.

Graphically, Stuntman: Ignition has set the bar higher than the admittedly lacklustre original game. The frame rate is no maxed out but considering the intensity of action on-screen, this is hardly surprising. Things seemed to run around the 30Hz frame rate mark.


    * You are the Stuntman – Feel the rush of pulling off the most breathtaking, death-defying stunts ever filmed
    * Intense Driving Action – Perfectly execute a series of dangerous, high-speed vehicle stunts through intense, precision driving
    * Build Your Career – Amp up the action by improvising reckless maneuvers during movie stunt runs to unlock bigger-budget movies and commercial jobs
    * Online Multiplayer – Steal stunts from rival stuntmen as you battle on the film sets or through custom built back-lot multiplayer arenas
    * Stunt Constructor – Devise your own insane stunt runs and challenge other stuntmen online to beat you at your own game
    * Unique Vehicles – Master your control of more than 25 unique vehicles, including exotic sports cars, motorcycles and hovercraft
    * Welcome to Hollywood – Showcase your skills in a wide variety of big-budget action films, commercial shoots and tournaments