Smuggler's Run Hands-On

Formerly known as The Getaway, Smuggler's Run puts you in the shoes of an aspiring smuggler who must move contraband across the border while avoiding rival gangs, rough terrain, and the fuzz.

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Rockstar recently stopped by our office with a fairly complete build of one of its two PS2 launch titles, Smuggler's Run. Formerly known as The Getaway, Smuggler's Run puts you in the shoes of an aspiring smuggler who must move contraband across the border while avoiding rival gangs, rough terrain, and the fuzz.

The build that Rockstar showed us is still some ways away from the alpha stage, but it was enough to give us a pretty good sense of what the final game will look and play like. None of the cutscenes or storytelling elements are in this build - just missions and scenarios. Still, from the looks of things, Smuggler's Run could offer some pretty tense racing situations.

The first mission had me simply picking up some contraband and then moving it to another location within a time limit, all while avoiding the Five-0. I started off with the dune buggy, as it seemed to have the right combination of speed and maneuverability for me. I flew through a country town and headed for a forested area. I quickly located the contraband: a suitcase full of some unknown substance. At the moment the contraband pickup and dropoff spots are represented by colored smoke signals. Rockstar assured us that in the final game, trucks, shady-looking people, and other more convincing smugglertypes would replace the spots. As soon as I had picked it up, though, a gang of po-pos flew at me from nowhere, sirens and lights blazing. I had to make tracks fast, so I quickly found a somewhat innovative path through the rocky forest and out onto the street. But the man was waiting for me there with a roadblock. Fearing tire strips, I aimed my buggy for the edge of a cliff and flew off into the shallow river below. A quick climb up the other slope of the chasm, and I was at the drop-off point. Touchdown from all angles - I had prevailed over the man and his anti-smuggling attempts.

Another one of the cooler levels pitted my gang against a rival gang in a race to deliver several different packages to prearranged areas before the allotted time expired. Each gang had three different vehicles that could carry, steal, and deliver the contraband. Having this many different vehicles all vying for one piece of contraband really made the mission hectic. Not only did I have to avoid collisions with other vehicles, but I also had to make sure a rival didn't T-bone me - I'd lose my loot if that happened. There were also plenty of huge wrecks and multiple car pileups in the brief time that I played.

The environments in Smuggler's Run are simply immense. There are three gigantic maps that make up the three different areas you'll be competing in, and each of the game's missions takes place in a smaller area of one of the larger maps. But while the action is usually only on a small piece of the map, the game doesn't restrict you to it - you'll be free to drive wherever you want. I really like this method, as it really motivates you to get to know the game's terrain.

Smuggler's Run is really shaping up to be a solid driving experience. With clean graphics, a fairly realistic physics engine, and the always-cool concept of slipping on the shoes of a notorious smuggler, Smuggler's Run could be the game Driver aspired to be

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