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Smuggler's Run: Warzones Package Art
 GENRE
  Racing-Action
 DEVELOPER
  Angel Studios
 PUBLISHER
  Rockstar Games
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1-4
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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Smuggler's Run: Warzones

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live the life of a contraband smuggler? If so you’re in luck! Thanks to Rockstar Games, via developer Angel Studios, GameCube owners are finally able to experience what Playstation 2 gamers have been enjoying since the launch of the system. However, we get treated to brand new missions running on a highly polished and refined engine.

visuals

Perhaps the most highly touted aspect of the Smuggler’s Run franchise is the landscape display engine which Angel Studios built before the game itself even existed. What they were after was an engine that would be able to generate very large and complex environments extremely quickly, without any signs of loading or pop-up whatsoever. Each subsequent game in the series has seen enhancements to this already impressive engine and Warzones is proof of this.

The textures used to create the aforementioned environments aren’t anything too special, but they’re definitely above average and get the job done nicely. What I found more impressive were the environmental effects such as snow, rain, and water, and the realistic damage effects that you’ll encounter when you get rough with your vehicles or deal punishment to opposing vehicles. Very well done.

audio

Warzones features a full soundtrack of licensed techno music which more than adequately gets you in the mood for high-speed, all-terrain, gravity-defying pursuits. All of the tracks are free of vocals, in order to loop them indefinitely without being to obvious about it. This avoids distraction from the audio tips and commentary given during the game. Overall, the music present is great if you’re into techno – only one or two songs being sub-par – and enjoyable enough if you’re not particularly partial to this genre of music.

The rest of the audio, consisting of sound effects & mission tips/criticism, are plentiful and get the job done very well. The only gripe I have, which also happens to be common for most games, is that the mission tips/criticism become really annoying when you’re getting frustrated with a particular mission. They also get annoying in general as you begin to invest lots of time with the game. It’s only a minor gripe however, which can easily be remedied by turning down the SFX volume or supplying your own music instead.

gameplay

Warzones offers a well rounded package of gameplay modes; four in total including Smuggler’s Missions, Turf Wars, Checkpoint Races and Joyridin’.

Smuggler’s Missions is obviously the meat and potatoes of this game. Basically, it's the story mode. You start off with some tutorial missions in which they teach you about the different controls, give you a feel of the terrain and obstacles that you’ll be facing throughout the game, and teach you about picking up and delivering contraband. This serves as a good refresher for veteran Smuggler’s as it introduces you to the new buttons and gameplay mechanics, and for new Smuggler’s it gets your feet wet without drowning you. You’ll also encounter video sequences to push the “story” along. The “acting” and “story” are laughable at best, and the quality of the video and audio is purposely distorted to give it the desired feel. But these videos aren’t an integral part of the game, unlike say a Final Fantasy title, so they can be easily dismissed.

As you progress through the game you’ll take control of many different vehicles which you’ll then be able to use in all of the missions, provided you successfully complete the mission in which it was first assigned to you. Each vehicle obviously has it’s own unique positive and negative attributes ranging from speed, weight, control & durability, as well as unlockable countermeasures. Speaking of control, all vehicles have nice, tight control, responding dynamically to the environments; crashing, bouncing and thrashing through terrain is all realistically portrayed, whereas jumps and the amazing ‘hand break’ which acts as a level control are obviously exaggerated.

During the Smuggler’s Missions you’ll predominantly be picking up and delivering contraband while avoiding the authorities, but there are also several other types of missions you’ll encounter, from destroying communications towers to preventing competing Smuggler’s from taking your contraband or escaping.

The learning curve is gentle in Warzones but does get very challenging towards the end, especially if you’re attempting to achieve the score “great” in each stage to unlock the bonus vehicle.

multiplayer

Yes, there’s plenty of multiplayer opportunities for you in Warzones -- and most importantly it’s 4-player compatible. One of the biggest disappointments with most multi-platform games occurs when the game is originally developed for the Playstation 2 – which is the case with this game – and the developer doesn’t take the extra time to up the game to 4-player support from the PS2’s 2-player only support. Thankfully Angel Studios took the time to add 4-player support and that makes this package all that much more appealing.

All of the modes available in Warzones can be experienced with up to three of your friends, save the Smuggler’s Missions – Turf Wars being the typical crowd pleaser.

overall

Smuggler’s Run: Warzones definitely shines in the single player mode with its generous amount of missions and a steady difficulty curve to keep you interested and wanting to play. The game itself just seems to scream fun -- whether you’re actually playing the missions or just goofing off in the joy ride mode, with or without friends. I definitely recommend a rental to anyone remotely interested in this title – don’t be afraid to purchase it either if you happen to see it laying in the bargain bin or with a reduced price tag.

final score 9.2/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Jeff Pearson
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"I've given all I can, but it's never enough."


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