- Developer: Angel Studios (now Rockstar San Diego)
- Publisher: Rockstar Games
- Platform: PlayStation 2
- Release Date: 26 October 2000
- MSRP: n/a
Is there anything more fun than smuggling drugs across borders? Well, Smuggler’s Run allows me to finally realize my life long dream of making a living selling illegal drugs, without breaking the law. Smuggler’s Run was an early release on the PlayStation 2, and it really shows. This game has not aged well. I remember renting this game back in the day and enjoying it. But I was a child at the time and wasn’t as discerning as now. Picking it up again after so many years, I didn’t expect it to hold up. What I didn’t expect was to find myself mostly frustrated with the game.
Upon loading up the game, it becomes immediately apparent that the driving controls are total ass. The vehicles are difficult to control. This will become frustrating when you try to reach checkpoints. I routinely missed checkpoints due to the inaccurate steering. At first, this wasn’t a problem with missions that only included moving contraband. The bad controls aren’t much of a factor, but where it kills the game is anything involving a race. The races require you to hit the checkpoints, which the awful steering will cause you miss them and lose the race repeatedly. One of the most baffling decisions regarding the controls was tilting the right stick for reverse. I was pushing every button and nothing was working. Somehow, I figured out that the right stick was used for reverse. Who would think to do that? What were they thinking? Use the shoulder buttons! Anyway, moving on.
Smuggler’s Run has three modes; Smuggler’s Mission, Turf War, and Joy Ride. Smuggler’s Mission is like a career mode in which the player completes missions, such as moving contraband, leading a team against rival smugglers, and races. The Turf Wars are team battles. Joyriding gives the player the freedom to explore the map without a time restriction.
Joyriding is the source of the most fun in this game. The lack of restrictions allows you to freely explore. Dicking around is easily the best part. Now you can send people and animals flying after hitting them at full speed. Watch them get some sick ups dude. Another fun thing to do while Joyriding is launching yourself off hills and see how much air you can get. Most of my enjoyment of the game came from this. The team battles also provide for decent fun. Absolute chaos will ensue and provides for a good laugh or two, like glitching though another vehicle or giving them a bump.
Smuggler’s Run seems like it would be more fun with friends, laughing and having a good time. Maybe a couple of adult beverages if that’s your thing. I don’t think it was intended to be played alone, save for unlocking new vehicles. Soloing it just doesn’t seem all that fun. Smuggler’s Run is still worth playing with a few friends. I wouldn’t call it good but there is some fun to be had here.
Smuggler’s Run was released early in the PS2’s life cycle, and it shows. Its very dated by today’s standards. Textures are very basic. It went for a more realistic look and as a result, looks hideous compared to less realistic games released around this time. The music fits the gameplay, using electro-dance/industrial sounds. But they quickly get repetitive. Now the voice acting, oh boy, the voice acting. I don’t want to be too harsh considering its age, but damn is the voice acting bad. Not the worst I’ve heard but certainly nowhere near anything considered good. The voice clips are very repetitive and corny. I was able to ignore it most of the time, except for the races. Because I kept on failing the races due to the awful controls, I had to hear the same lines over and over again. My sanity couldn’t handle it anymore.
Smuggler’s Run is one of those games that seemed good at the time but has since aged poorly. 2000 was still somewhat early in the 3D era. Developers were just about close to mastering designing 3D games. Smuggler’s Run came out during the late stages of this learning period and it shows. It’s a little too bare-bones to hold someone’s attention for long. The game feels like one you would rent from Blockbuster back in the day. Multiplayer seems to be the focal point of this game. You and several friends can have fun freely dicking around. Playing solo doesn’t provide as much fun. Its not a flat out bad game, but I don’t see myself ever coming back to it.