Smuggler's Run: Warzone

Review: Smugglers Run: Warzones

Smuggler's Run was actually the very first game I played on the Playstation 2 at a SONY event some years ago and even then I was impressed by its pick up and play quality. After several years and a handful of sequels the franchise makes its way onto the GameCube courtesy of Angel Studios. There has, however, been much criticism levied at this trend towards all format releases with a variety of studios taking on the conversion duties. It has occasionally resulted in a bit of a lottery as to the quality of the GameCube version so we can only hope that the good people at Angel Studios can produce a shiny disk that everyone will want to play and own.


Angel Studios must be congratulated in producing a graphics engine, which is both solid and visually pleasing. The first thing you will notice is the distinct lack of pop up or fogging and the landscapes seem to stretch for miles. The areas are also suitably different with some clever lighting effects conveying the various times of day. In addition the weather effects are stunning and the whole thing runs at an impressive 60 frames per second even in multiplayer mode.


The sound is a real mixed bag and while many people will enjoy the soundtrack, there'll probably be a fair few who will simply want to turn it off. Fortunately this can be done simply by heading over to the options menu and hitting the required button. The sound effects are a little strange too and while they are certainly not the poorest I've encountered you can't help but feel that the developers could have gone that much further in harnessing the sounds of the various weather effects and their interaction with different vehicles. This would have injected much more atmosphere into the gameplay as, although it's all very acceptable, it does occasionally sound a little flat. The audio really hits rock bottom during the FMV clips and the dialogue here sounds like it's been recorded via a tin can. This may be a blessing in disguise though as the acting's so appalling there's a good chance you'll skip these sections anyway.


Warzones involves you participating in a number of missions to smuggle contraband over some of the roughest terrains you'll encounter in a console game. The storyline challenges you to take part in a variety of smuggling jobs, and really does help to capture your interest over the 35 available levels. It starts with a classic 'pick something up' at point A and drop it off at point B. It's possibly the simplest way to begin but if you're unfamiliar with the control system it's a great way to ease you in. The missions rapidly increase in difficulty as, for instance, it is incredibly difficult to knock down communication towers in a set time limit, especially if you select the wrong vehicle. Our favourite task though involved pursuing and stopping another player by simply ramming into them until you destroy their buggy. This isn't as easy as it sounds as they tend to be rather intelligent so you're likely to hit a few trees or other objects before bringing them to a halt.

Even after you've completed the Smuggler's Mission section there's still a lot more gaming to be had in the Turf War. This is a series of mini-games which can be dipped into whenever you require a quick gaming fix and which can all be enjoyed as multiplayer outings. Firstly there's 'Checkpoint' where you must race with another seven contestants in order to finish an off road course first. In 'Bomb Tag' you must steal loot whilst avoiding the player with the bomb whilst in 'Crooks 'n' Smugglers' you battle it out with other players in order to deliver your quota of contraband first. There is also 'Domination', 'Loot Grab' and 'Fox and Hounds' to dabble with, all of which resemble challenges from the main game but are still highly enjoyable.

Success in any one of the various challenges opens up new vehicles and counter measures, which are simply your means of getting out of a sticky situation and which can range from a speed boost to bombs or a classic oil slick. There are some extra missions hidden too but you'll need to do some serious gaming to unlock them. Finally the save feature is just as you'd like it, simple, effective and virtually automatic. In short it allows you to load and save games in a matter of clicks and not via the long-winded method favoured by some developers.


A: Gas.B: Brake.X: Countermeasure 1.Y: Countermeasure 2.L: Large Map/Look Back.R: Drift/Air Balance.Z: Reverse.C: Camera.D-Pad: Menu Control.Control Stick: Steering.


Warzones is the first GameCube title I've played for some time that encourages the 'just one more go' mentality that can strip hours from your life without you even realising it. The problem is that it's really easy to get involved in the game and just two buttons control most of the action. The learning curve is also well pitched, with both the police and opposition smugglers gaining intelligence and numbers at an acceptable rate.


More gameplay than you can shake a stick at and even when you've conquered the single player mode there are still a number of other challenges open to you. There are also the multiplayer modes meaning you can be play the 'tag' or 'bomb' games with a few friends for some considerable time.

Final Say:

In these days of declining console exclusives it's refreshing to see that an all format release can be so good, given the right developer. Angel Studios have managed to deliver a title worthy of anyone's collection. It may be an old idea now and critics will argue that it's simply an updated Playstation 2 game but when it's this much fun it really doesn't matter.


A: Gas.B: Brake.X: Countermeasure 1.Y: Countermeasure 2.L: Large Map/Look Back.R: Drift/Air Balance.Z: Reverse.C: Camera.D-Pad: Menu Control.Control Stick: Steering.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Simply the Best Off-Road, Law Avoiding, Smuggling game available on the GameCube.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals4
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Imaginative Missions
Decent Cop AI


FMV Actors

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