Smuggler's Run 2: Hostile Territory Preview

Rockstar's sequel drops your smuggler into war-torn landscapes and forces you to deliver your contraband while dealing with landmines, explosions, and of course, the law.

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Smuggler's Run was one of the PlayStation 2's US launch games. The game, published by Rockstar and developed by Angel Studios, put you in the role of an off-roading smuggler charged with picking up contraband and delivering it to a drop-off point while fighting off rival smugglers, the law, and the rough off-road terrain. The game was short on story, but it made up for that shortcoming by offering excellent gameplay and an absolutely enormous world to drive in. Smuggler's Run 2: Hostile Territory takes the same approach as the original game, but it adds more of a story and a whole new level of danger to the world, as well as all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a sequel.

While Smuggler's Run took place in a fairly nondescript locale and didn't offer much in the way of story progression, the sequel is all about danger. The game takes place in two very hostile territories indeed--Afghanistan and Vietnam. With the new international setting comes new terrain. The Afghanistan environment has large flood plains and villages and is generally set in the high plains. Vietnam features a lush jungle, steep hills, and rice paddies. Along with the rival gangs and law enforcement officials from the original Smuggler's Run, you'll now have to deal with explosions, adverse weather, minefields, cross fires, and nighttime conditions. A more complex plot has been added, and it will be told via cutscenes, some of which will be in-engine, while others will make use of filmed footage. When asked about the plot, Dan Houser, Rockstar's producer for the game, said, "The game is still very much an off-road driving experience, but you have real motivations and a lot more surprises in this version. The storyline has been integrated [with the gameplay] so your mission objectives help unravel the plot."

Including the various racing and multiplayer modes, the final game will contain 10 to 15 different modes and more than 30 missions. Hostile Territory will also tweak the mission structure of the single-player game a bit. While the game will still take place in gigantic areas filled with all kinds of wild terrain, there will be new types of objectives beyond simply picking up a package from the ground and taking it to a drop-off point. Some of your contraband will be dangerous, exploding when time runs out, while other cargo may slow you down or bounce around when dropped. Other new twists include catching contraband that falls out of the sky or losing any vehicles on your tail before making the delivery. Houser said that the new missions are designed to "add to the sense of danger and paranoia while driving." Also adding to the danger is a new set of AI routines, which are customized for each of the different computer-controlled vehicles to give the AI a collection of different personalities. Teammates will work together to protect you and your contraband from harm, while the law will team up against you. When asked about the AI, Houser stated that the computer-controlled vehicles "will feel a lot more realistic and human in this version--like you're being chased by a group of angry, militant lunatics."

While the original game had a solid engine that could deliver high-speed gameplay and large areas without much trouble, the sequel will feature a new engine designed to deliver cleaner graphics, real-time shadows, and more detail while still running at 60 frames per second. The great physics model from the first game has also been tweaked a bit, though most of the changes focus on incorporating greater differences in the way the game's vehicles handle. Different vehicles will be better suited to different types of terrain, making your best choice of direction slightly different depending on whether you're driving a truck or a dune buggy. New vehicles have been added to the game, including an ATV, a tank, and a monster truck. In the end, the game will feature eight different vehicle types for you to control. All the game's vehicles will break apart in different ways, such as hoods and fenders flying off.

Smuggler's Run 2: Hostile Territory for the PlayStation 2 is scheduled to hit stores in October of this year. The game is also scheduled to be shown at the upcoming E3. Be sure to check back with GameSpot for hands-on reports once the show commences.

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