Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
With my rather large gaming experience, I have seen my fair share of pushovers. These games are easy to master and are usually short enough for you to beat in a week of casual play. Some are longer, others (like Seek & Destroy) are shorter (S&D I could finish daily).
I am glad to report that Stuntman is not one of those.
This game is harder than a steel plated brick, inside a giant bank vault. The learning curve for this game is like a rollercoaster. Some levels you will breeze through, others you'll find impossible to complete even the first section. Hey, it wasn't voted one of the top 5 hardest games of all time by Official Playstation 2 Magazine Australia for nothing.
The premise is simple. You are a stuntman (Really? No kidding!) trying to earn your pay. You do this by risking life and limb doing crazy tricks and stunts involving a range of objects. In most occasions, you will be expected to get the car through intact, with the exception of the final stunt of the sequence where you can expect to crash your car/bike/snowmobile into something, with you possibly leaping out before the crash. Possibly.
What makes it so hard is the execution. The time limits for these stunts are very, very tight. Tighter than the horrible sweater-vest your grandmother gave you for christmas when you were 6. The checkpoints in the game show you how much time you have left, but only if that time is below or equal to 9 seconds. Frequently you will pass through a checkpoint with 5 or so seconds left. If you do pass through a checkpoint before it starts counting down, then you really are good. Or fast.
Because good and fast are two different things in this game. The stunts you do can be timed. Pass through the zone too early and you may fail. Too late, or not at all, and you also fail. Fortunately, each stunt adds more percentage to your complete rating, of which you need a decent portion of in order to pass. If the last stunt of the scene, AKA level, is one which leads to totalling the car, then it will be necessary to pass in order to pass the level.
You'll want to pass these levels too, as the coolest function of the game is the trailer. When you finish filming a movie, a short trailer for that movie is shown. This trailer is interlaced with stunts you have done for that movie. However, in order for a stunt to be shown, you would of had to do it in the same sitting as you finished the movie. This means that if you finish all but the last scene, then turn off the PS2, your trailer will only feature stunts from the final scene. I'm not exactly sure about that, but one of my trailers only has stunts from the last scene, so it's possible.
The stunts may look cool, but the rest of the game looks a bit 'worn'. Maybe as it uses the Driver 3 engine. Expect dated graphics and overly obvious CGI movie trailers with badly animated people.
If they load. This game has iffy loading times, which are worse off when you start a new scene. But these loading screens do allow you to calm down after a particularly frustrating end to what would of been a perfect run, so they do work for you, in a way.
My reccomendations would be for hardcore stuntmen wannabes to get this game, and for those who are sick and tired of all the wussy pushover games on the market right now. Casual gamers should steer clear of this stomach-ulcer-on-a-disk.