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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Rockstar

 

Developer

Angel Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

August 2002

 

 

- Often like a sports game

- Good mix of vehicles

- FMV makes a glorious comeback

- Lots of good driving action

- Great big levels to roam around

- Fun multiplayer

 

 

- Missions can get repetitive

- HUD arrow could be bigger

 

 

Review: Smuggler's Run 2: Hostile Territory (Playstation 2)

Review: Twisted Metal Black Online (Playstation 2)

 

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Smuggler's Run: Warzones

Score: 8.2 / 10

 

Full-motion video (FMV) cutscenes were seemingly burned out of existence with the whole-hearted acceptance of CG cutscenes.  I’m sure publishers and developers have their own reasons for abandoning FMV cutscenes, but when Smuggler’s Run: Warzones opened with an honest to goodness video clip I couldn’t help but feel slightly giddy.

 

smugglers-run-warzones-1.jpg (40116 bytes)          smugglers-run-warzones-2.jpg (34401 bytes)

 

It was all there, just like I remember it: the semi-serious actors working with some awkward dialogue and a small production budget (but with an actual plot).  Some will loathe the use of FMV, but I found it to add to the joy.  There is more to Warzones than just the FMV but I thought I should mention one of the highlights first.

 

In case you don’t know, Warzones is part of the Smuggler’s Run series that has always tasked you with acquiring contraband and delivering it safely to a drop point.  Warzones sticks with that theme – you won’t find anything that wavers very far from it.  Of course, the type of contraband and the method of acquiring and delivering that contraband can be quite different.  The opening levels simply require you to collect and drop off your merchandise – driving at breakneck speed from point A to Point B without having to pay much due care and attention to anything (i.e. tanks, border patrols, etc.).  But if you're transporting explosives. . . eyes to the road!

 

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There is strategy involved in some levels that play more like vehicular Capture the Flag or soccer.  These missions have you racing alongside teammates to pick up and deliver more contraband than the competition – and if you don’t have a good mix of forwards, guards, corners, and backs you’ll get wiped off the map.  Contraband can be picked up at drop locations or stolen from the opposition by slamming contraband-laden opponents.  Buddy AI is good once you realize 

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they play their roles to a “T” and won’t suddenly break out of their routine to save the day.  The opposing AI is entirely ruthless and they provide more than enough challenge (and tension).  Other mission objectives include catching (and destroying) an opponent, escaping from authorities (some of the best fun), and disabling/destroying specific landmarks, like radio towers.

 

Although there are definite edges, Angel Studios has done a very good job providing some big environments to bomb around in – each one introduced by a glorious FMV sequence to develop the story.  Some will notice a bit of “pop-up” on distant hills but if you’re only watching the hills maybe you shouldn’t be playing.  The graphics are good all round with various light conditions, weather, and seasonal changes that not only affect the visual impact but also the control of your vehicle (i.e. you’ll slide around on ice).  The HUD, which displays all your critical information, is also easy to read as well, although I would have appreciated a larger directional arrow.

 

smugglers-run-warzones-3.jpg (35454 bytes)         smugglers-run-warzones-4.jpg (41075 bytes)

 

All told there are 8 vehicles to access (and one hidden vehicle), each with their own speed, handling, weight and acceleration attributes, and team role to consider.  As usual, you start off with a jalopy of a car but as you complete more levels more vehicles become accessible (along with various countermeasures).  The attributes of each vehicle are noticeably different but are still easy to get a handle on.  Control is straightforward and responsive.  Press a countermeasure button and the countermeasure takes affect – oil slicks, temporary stealth, bombs, among others – as long as you have some in stock.  Basically, it has easy pick-up and play control, and some of the craziest physics ever (but in a good way).

 

The biggest problem with Warzones is that even though it has a variety of mission types some will complain of the repetitive nature of picking up contraband then dropping it off.  (I didn’t find this to be a problem though.)  And if they do have this problem, Warzones comes with a variety of multiplayer modes, the highlight of which is Bomb Tag.  The objective of Bomb Tag is to not have the bomb when the timer expires.  This creates some great chase and evade tactics (which should be honed during the single-player Smuggler Missions) like cutting off a train in order to put your opponent into its path granting you more time to get away.  The multiplayer aspect should come with a bit of a warning though: If you're playing with more than two human players make sure you have a big TV so you can see just what you're doing, otherwise prepare to sit close to the screen and squint.

 

smugglers-run-warzones-5.jpg (33947 bytes)         smugglers-run-warzones-6.jpg (37260 bytes)

 

Smuggler’s Run: Warzones is a solid “racing” game with good entertainment value.  It has solid pick-up and play control, wide-open levels, good graphics and multiplayer options, and the return of FMV!  Recommended rental at the very least.

 

- Omni

(September 22, 2002)

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