I think James focused a little too much on Stuntman's flaws and not enough on its praiseworthy elements in his review. Despite the long load times and sometimes maddening difficulty level, Stuntman is a well-produced, exciting game that provides a good simulation of the life of a Hollywood daredevil.
Expecting nonlinearity from Stuntman is a mistake, as a real movie stuntman does not get much nonlinearity in his line of work He gets paid to do a predetermined set of stunts and do them correctly. Anything less requires a retake, which, while frustrating, is also realistic, and provides the player with an incentive to do better next time. The game does not require perfection, though; most scenes allow you to miss some stunts with no penalty more severe than a smaller monetary bonus. Realism in simulations is often sacrificed for the sake of fun, but we shouldn't be too hard on Reflections for taking a different route.
James is right that there should be a "training or practice" mode so players can get to know a scene before the first take, but he neglected to mention the documentary-style stuntman interviews that do precede each scene. In these interviews, the stuntman often talks the player through some of the more difficult stunts they can expect, or explains some lesser-known pieces of stuntman trivia. Besides providing a non-intrusive training for the scenes, these interviews drew me into the world of the stuntman very effectively. I felt like I was being accepted into the stuntman's world, gaining more information and trust as I proved myself with more impressive stunts.
I strongly disagree with James' assertion that the replays "weren't showcased properly." I found the movie-style replays and trailers to be one of the high points of the game. After a hard-fought battle to get a scene just right, nothing is more rewarding then sitting back and watching the fruits of my efforts up there on the screen. Even the takes where I screwed up horribly often turned into amusing replays. I nearly ended up buying an extra 8MB memory card just so I could save more replays to show to visiting friends, whose ensuing laughs and gasps were proof enough for me of the replay's efficacy.
Panning a game for a lack of compelling extras is like panning a movie because the popcorn was stale. While I didn't find Stuntman's extras particularly compelling, they didn't take anything away from the main game. I also found it odd that James complained about the stunt construction set, the only bit of the game that provides the creativity and non-linearity that he craved earlier in the review.
Yes, Stuntman does have its flaws, but I don't think a few technical problems can completely take away from a game that has so much originality and good design going for it. Those who are willing to overlook the long load times and repetitive gameplay will come out of the experience with a good idea of what it's actually like to be a movie stuntman. For that, the game deserves some credit.
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