Smuggler’s Run 2: Hostile Territory
While everyone will agree the launch line-up for the PS2 was less than stellar, one game that came out of nowhere was Smuggler’s Run. This game got little advertising hype, so it may have passed under the radar of a lot of gamers. Those who decided to take a chance on this little known title may have stumbled across one of the more innovative and entertaining games of the entire launch line-up. Rockstar, understanding the cult following that quietly amassed, did the smart thing and decided to release a sequel, this time without the pressure of meeting a system launch, and a great sequel it is. You play the game as an elite smuggler. Someone known only as the "Colonel" has contracted you and your gang of smugglers through his spokesman to pull off specific jobs throughout Russia and Vietnam. There are tons of missions of varying objectives, along with huge worlds that you will find yourself racing across with one true goal in mind -- staying alive.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
If you missed out on the original Smuggler’s Run, not to worry. No previous experience is required to start playing Smuggler’s Run 2. Like the first, this game starts off slow, walking you through short missions that are used mostly to introduce you to the vehicle physics and overall feel of the game. After a few ramp-up missions, things start to pick up and before you know it, you will find yourself in an all-out panicked rush just to survive. Not many games do a better job of pumping up the adrenaline from start to finish. I keep talking about missions and I have yet to explain what these missions consist of. The game is broken up into a number of missions, which can range from picking up contraband and delivering it to another location to ramming control towers to disable communications. That is one of the great things about Smuggler’s Run 2 -- the mission variety keeps the game fresh. I found that as I completed a mission, I was excited to see what was coming next. One of my personal favorite mission types was team-based. It was me with two other computer controlled vehicles against three computer controlled rival smugglers. Each group had a color-coded base. A helicopter would drop contraband and both teams would attempt to acquire the contraband and get it back to base. If the opposing team had the contraband, I had to smash my vehicle into theirs and I would take possession of the contraband. I then had to deliver the contraband back to my base before they smashed into me. The action is non-stop and it is just a blast to play.
I also keep talking about vehicles and have not come right out and said it but this game is vehicle based. All of your missions are performed driving one of the eight vehicles. When you start the game, you only have access to one vehicle but as you complete missions, more vehicles open up. The type of vehicle you choose will play an important role in your success. The vehicles range from a buggy to a truck to an ATV Quadrunner to a Grenadier (a huge truck that looks almost like a garbage truck). The fastest vehicle is not always the best choice depending on the mission. I found that experimentation led to some surprising results. Fortunately, you will have the option to select any of your available vehicles at the start of each mission so you are never locked into a specific vehicle. The controls are also very solid. The missions will require you to run at full speed and even though the terrain had me bouncing, jumping, smashing and flying over cliffs, I always felt I had a handle on my vehicle. Keep in mind, there are times when you will be screaming through a muddy marsh in Vietnam at over 100 MPH, so if you expect to stop on a dime, you will be disappointed. Try slamming on the brakes and you will slide appropriately. Try to make a sharp turn and your vehicle will slide sideways. The balance between fun and realism is a fine line and I feel they really nailed it.
I have intentionally saved the best for last. The one thing that really stood out more than anything else was the enemy AI. Since you are a smuggler, the local authorities don’t particularly care much for you. Actually, they hate you and they are making it their goal in life to stop you from reaching your goal, whatever that goal may be. So, not only are you racing against the clock in a number of missions, you are also avoiding the police. The police will stop at nothing to see you get arrested and they are relentless. There are times you will have upwards of six police chasing you in SUV’s and Quadrunners. They will ram your vehicle until you come to a stop or your vehicle is destroyed and then they will arrest you. And if that is not enough, you have also pissed off the local army, who will bring in air support and drop bombs down on you. The bottom line is the police and the army will do whatever it takes to make sure you do not achieve your goal and man, do they get tough.
Smuggler’s Run 2 has a couple of multiplayer modes that will keep you and your buddies entertained. You can play head-to-head in a turf war or a checkpoint race. I am personally not a big fan of split screen racing but if you enjoy it, these games are actually quite fun against another player.
To say I am impressed would be an understatement. The developers really did a good job of shining this game up. The environments and view distances are enormous and the details in the world are incredible. Everything from the choppers flying around to the small towns looked great. I really felt as if I was in the jungles of Vietnam or in the hills of Russia. One of my few complaints is that there are a few levels with rain and it makes it almost impossible to see. I would be driving along and smash into a rock that was blended in to the environment, which made it a bit frustrating. Other than that, the look of this game fits the action perfectly.
The audio is satisfactory. I was a little disappointed with the lack of variance in the sound of the vehicles. When I jumped on the Quadrunner, I was expecting a different tone but it sounded just like the truck and the buggy. The music was more for background filler and I guess it did the job adequately.
I really enjoyed this game. It was a nice blend of action and racing. Every mission felt like a struggle to survive. They did a great job of setting the timer on some missions to the point where you will either succeed by a few seconds or lose by a few seconds. The graphics were great and the detail level was more than I expected. I just hope Rockstar understands they have a good franchise with Smuggler’s Run and continues to move the series forward. Check this one out, you won't be disappointed.
Download Smuggler’s Run 2: Hostile Territory
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP