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Smuggler's Run
Review By: Joe Rolfe
Developer:   Angel Studios
Publisher:   Rockstar Games
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Driving
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   01-14-01

Since itís debut early in 2000 at multiple game trade shows, Smugglerís Run (SR) reached critical excitement and a ton of pre-release buzz before the PlayStation 2 even hit stores. With the "off-road, reckless abandon" racing genre just getting onto itís feet thanks to games such as Driver, Midtown Madness and (to an extent), Grand Theft Auto, the initial showing of Smugglerís Run proved very tantalizing indeed to both critical and public crowds alike. With "veterans" of the genre, Angel Studios (whom created the Midtown Madness) behind the title, very few questioned if the game could really supply an entertaining time amide the rest of the mediocre, average launch games for the PS2. Did the developer succeed?

For the most part, yes. Despite an ultimately repetitive gameplay and brutal AI that will eventually frustrate you more so than challenge the gamer, SR turned out to be a highly enjoyable product in the end that should solidify Angel Studiosí name in the book of good developers once and for all.

Like the name implies, the premise of Smugglerís Run is exactly that: Running around and smuggling items. With an absence of an epic story, SR settles on the idea that you need to obtain contraband and other miscellaneous products across boarders and environments by means of multiple vehicles. At itís most simplest terms (and it doesnít get harder, really), SR requires that you follow an arrow over a map to different green marking points, which is disguised as the "contraband", and from there on you "transfer" it to a red marking point which represents the drop off destination. For just about the whole tenure of Smugglerís Run, this is the name of the game. Other than few strait up racing challenges against rival groups or even missions involving co-operate find-the-contraband-and-deliver with teammates versus those same competitors, SR sticks to the same pattern.

The greatest quality I found within Smugglerís Run was its claim to a wonderful physics engine. While most forward driving titles today focus more on handing out the most realistic approach to racing, SR mechanics exploits a crash-course model that hasnít been done this well since the former PSOne off-road hit, Rally Cross. Crusiní throughout the dessert, evergreen forest and burly winter hilltops show off an intelligent engine and aerodynamics as well. Momentum is handled well, car rolls and bounces behave well and the reaction to damage is exquisite. While vehicles intake much more destruction than they would crumble at the mere sight of in real life, cars and trucks subliminally destruct and lose parts depending on how one exactly goes kamikaze in the environments.

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