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Game Over Online ~ Smuggler's Run: Warzones

GameOver Game Reviews - Smuggler's Run: Warzones (c) Rockstar Games, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Smuggler's Run: Warzones (c) Rockstar Games
System Requirements GameCube
Overall Rating 80%
Date Published Friday, August 23rd, 2002 at 05:23 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Smuggler's Run: Warzones is a first of its kind title for the Nintendo Gamecube but in actuality, it has already gone through two iterations for owners of the Playstation 2. Angel Studios, the developers of the Smuggler's Run series, have taken the latest release of Smuggler's Run and revved it up, literally and figuratively speaking, for the Gamecube's powerful hardware by including new countermeasures, an exclusive map and two new multiplayer modes. As if that's not enough, Warzones' single player campaign takes place in Eastern Europe, a land full of diverse terrain, as you'll be smuggling contraband for a corrupt Russian military official through barren rock, European towns and even dense jungles.

However, the art of smuggling is the same. You choose a car, countermeasures and weapons, doing whatever you have to do to get the package to its destination. Each zone of operation in Warzones is alive with law enforcement and competing smugglers dedicated to making your lives difficult. What's more, the AI, a trademark of the Smuggler's series, translates to the Gamecube too. Your opponents will constantly be breathing down your neck every step of the way, ramming you, initiating a little kiss from behind and outright firing at you to get to your possession or deny you access to the drop-off point. They go to elaborate lengths and the AI is cunning enough that they won't try the same thing twice and adapt to what type of defensive measures you employ against them. It's very smart and does a good job at harassing you. That's not to say the game is too difficult. The most difficult part will be their job because if you're making all the checkpoints, not crashing into fixed objects and going in the right direction, you can mostly keep them off your back. It begs the question, however, why your opponents are so interested in jacking your goods while you're in motion, armed to the teeth and not simply amassing their collective power to get it when it's stationary, sitting in a warehouse. I imagine I shouldn't ask because that defeats the whole objective of the game.

You won't have time to ask questions during the new multiplayer modes. Warzones comes with two new game types to play with your friends. One is a variant of the game tag, where one player will grab the lone package on the map while others will co-operate to destroy the player and get it themselves. The other is the well-known Domination mode, a capture and hold style of play. Support is available for up to four players and the beefy Gamecube hardware is able to handle the enhanced pyrotechnics as well as showing four playing screens at once.

As you progress throughout the game's campaign, you'll get access to better gear and vehicles, although none of the vehicles are deficient compared to others. It's just a matter of playing style and also what weaponry you're interested in using. Depending on your style, some vehicles will be easier for the single player levels, but again, no single vehicle is useless. There's a hoversled bonus vehicle for Warzones. Furthermore, a cloaking device, a repulse shield (to literally repulse surrounding vehicles), an acid drop (something like Spyhunter's oil slicks) and a vertical hop (a la mode since Crazy Taxi) are added to both the single player and multiplayer portions of the game. All of these are exclusive to Warzones on the Gamecube.

Warzones does falter in not being one of the more visually impressive Gamecube titles. You can't really blame the developers since they were basically working off the same base they had for the Playstation 2. The visuals move at a clip pace but there's not a lot of refined detail in the terrain, at least not in the quantities and quality I would expect from a cutting edge Gamecube title. The soundtrack, though licensed, is rather repetitive. There's a lot of techno going on and I know it's really a matter of preference but considering the game takes place in Eastern Europe, I was thinking more of something along the lines of the stereotypical Hollywood treatments of the Russians: opera or something like that.

It's important that Warzones has already been through two iterations for the Playstation 2 platform. That means it has worked out a lot of kinks. In the PC world, we call it a version 3.0 product and the polish definitely shows. Microsoft Windows took three versions before it became wildly popular. Warzones adapts to the Gamecube flawlessly, working wonderfully with the controls and hardware. It's not necessarily a very deep title but for vehicular combat, it's got one of the best AIs out there; not too difficult but not too easy either. The multiplayer, even with four players, is underwhelming though. Domination just doesn't work as well with only four players. With two players, the new tag mode is rather redundant. But like I mentioned before, all the experience and toil Angel Studios went through for the Playstation 2 has created a thoroughly entertaining piece of work for the Gamecube.


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