Full Auto Xbox 360 Review
Road Rage can do terrible things to people, it doesn’t take much, getting cut up on a junction, a traffic jam on a hot summers day, it’s the little things that do it. It can turn even the meekest person into a foul mouthed barbarian and drive them to verbal and physical abuse, but you don’t see people strapping rocket launchers to the front of their cars, no matter how much they’d love to. But now, thanks to Sega, you can fulfil those road rage fantasies in a virtual world with their latest 360 game, Full Auto.
When it comes to gameplay there’s no pretence at realism here, this is pure arcade action all the way. Gameplay options are Career, Arcade, head to head and Xbox Live. Head to head is a split screen multiplayer game, Xbox Live will take the game online where you can play with up to 7 other players, Arcade is just quick pick up and play races, but the real meat of the game, as is usual, is career mode. In career mode you get a long series of events, split up into different categories. First off you have to start off with the tutorial races before you can unlock any other categories. The tutorial events are a little on the long winded side, they really should have put more game mechanics into each event, but it doesn’t take too long before you can start on career mode proper. The main thing you learn in the tutorials are the importance of wreck points, most events winning the race just isn’t enough if you want those gold medals, you need to rack up those wreck points, but this isn’t hard, just blow up stuff, doesn’t matter what it is, other cars, buildings, even trees and flowers, all can be destroyed to add to your total. Things can be destroyed by crashing into them at speed, but if you really want to cause maximum destruction you’re going to need some bug guns, and that’s just what you get. Weapons come both forward and back mounted, on the front you can have rockets, missiles, machine guns, grenade launchers, shotguns and cannons, on the rear you have the choice of mines, grenades, a shotgun or smoke screen. Unfortunately you can’t mix and match these weapons, but they do come in some good combinations, all with a suitable name. The weapons can also be tuned, you can choose to augment one of your weapons, but this has the cost of cutting down your other weapon. Not all are front and back combinations, some have two front mounted, but not rear mounted. In career mode you aren’t given much choice of cars or weapons, being forced to use a set combination usually, and in career mode they have to be unlocked, fortunately the games other modes give you more freedom allowing you access to all vehicles and weapons combinations from the start.
Once you’ve got your car and weapons selected though it’s straight into the action, there’s plenty of variation in both track types and game types in career mode. Track types come in circuit, point to point and back and forth, circuit and point to point are both straightforward enough, but back and forth is something new, it’s essentially the same as point to point, but once you get to the end you have to do a swift U turn and back to the start. Nothing revolutionary, but it has the added peril that if you’re ahead or behind you have to face your rivals head on at that end of the track. Game variations are numerous, apart from the usual races, there are game types such as Hunters, where you play as a bounty hunter and have to hunt and destroy criminals during the race, and Gang warfare, where you team up with half the other racers into a gang and have to fight it out with the other gang, you don’t have to be first past the finishing line in this game, but one of your team mates does. There’s also time trials where you are totally weapon less and have to do a point to point in a set time, there’s plenty of other game types, some giving you only one life, some pitting you against more powerful vehicles, some you just do time trials and have to wreck as much traffic as possible. All this variations spice up the gameplay enough so you don’t get too bored with the same game type over and over.
As well as just driving and shooting you also get the obligatory boost function, which cannot be used until the boost meter is full, you fill it up with a little stunt driving, jumps and handbrake turns top it up nicely and with a little planning you can string together boosts to maintain your pace. As well as boost the game offers you another feature that’s never been seen in a racer before, unwreck. It’s nothing new really, you’ve more than likely seen the same thing before in the Prince of Persia games, that’s right, it’s the ability to rewind time, hitting the unwreck button will turn back time for as long as it’s held down, handy for averting those unforeseen impacts or just those moments when you end up trapped in an awkward position with no way out. It’s a neat little feature that gives you a little edge over the computer controlled racers but due to it’s nature is missing from the multiplayer game.
The multiplayer is basically a stripped down version of the single player, not only do you lose the unwreck feature, but also you are game types are limited to just standard races. Offline you just get two player split screen, but online gives you 8 player action, and it’s a lot of fun blasting round the tracks and blasting your mates off the track. For some reason the games unavoidable slowdown doesn’t seem as bad on the multiplayer, which is also helped by the games general lack of lag. It’s definitely one of those games that would be great for a bit off mindless fun after the pubs, just a pity it doesn’t run to 4 player split screen.
Car crashes are never pretty, but you can’t help but stare at them, thankfully Full Auto doesn’t follow the same rules. Both the cars and scenery are a joy to behold, with the cars sporting some very nice reflection effects, especially on the chrome work. The car models are nice and varied, no licensed cars, as to be expected from an all out arcade style game such as this, but they all look real enough and most wouldn’t turn heads if you saw them driving down your high street. They range from your everyday saloon car models, through SUVs and pick up trucks to some very nice and fashioned American type models, there’s even a tow truck in there too. All of which are nicely detailed and come in a nice range of colours (once you’ve unlocked them).
The scenery isn’t quite as good looking as the vehicles, but considering it’s all pretty much fully destructible they are nice enough, but aren’t as varied as the vehicles, a good number of the locales you race in are in big cities with plenty of skyscrapers and the like, but there are other areas too, the docklands and warehouse district are personal favourites, but there are also some nice tracks set in a nice rural mountainous area and a few which cover some stretches of motorway. It seems a shame to blow them all up, but that’s what the games all about, unfortunately that’s where the problems start on the graphics front, the explosion effects themselves are very nicely done, but if you get too many of them going off on screen at the same time it can cause a drop in frame rate, and as you’d expect the more explosions the more it slows down. It’s not so much of a problem when it’s opponents cars you’re blowing up, as the game slows down then to give you a slow motion close up of the damage, but when you have a tightly bunched group of racers all jostling together letting off missiles and the like the slowdown can be quite bad, luckily this doesn’t happen too often so it’s not too serious a problem, but it’s a real shame they couldn’t have sorted it out before release.
Like the visuals the audio for this game isn’t the best in the world, but it’s still pretty good. The sound effects are meaty enough, with some suitably powerful sounding engine noises and plenty of bangs and crashes as you’re blowing the crap out of everything. Music is also pretty decent, with some nice tracks which are a mixture of rock with a little bit of techno thrown in. The music suit’s the game well, giving it a dark and dangerous atmosphere, but if you don’t like it then you’ve got a problem. Custom soundtracks are of course supported as with all 360 games, but due to a glitch in the game at the end of a race the custom soundtracks cut out and when you return to the games menu screen it reverts back to the games own music. It’s a bit annoying for those like me who love nothing more than a bit off Motorhead with their racing action, and like the small frame rate problems makes the game look like it was rushed to get it out.
Career mode is quite long in the single player game, so I’d say even without Live or a friend to play against you get a fair amount of bang for your buck here. The multiplayer will of course increase the games longevity. It’s pretty lightweight mindless fun though and some people may tire of it easily, but if all you want is a quick blast this should keep you coming back for a good while.
It’s nice to see Sega doing something a bit different with the racing genre here, but it’s a bit of a mishmash of game design and sometimes feels a little unbalanced. The fact that it seems rushed out as well doesn’t go in it’s favour either, but the idea itself is a good one and with a bit more time spent on it this could have been a great game. Overall I’d say give it a try if you like the sound of it, the small faults don’t ruin the game, but you can see how good it could have been. Hopefully Sega will fine tune the idea and spend more time on it and bring us a sequel that fulfils the idea behind the game.
7.6 out of 10