XBOX 360 REVIEW: FULL AUTO

Be prepared to be taken for a ride. by Colin Thames (Click here to read Vaughn's Full Auto review)

February 21, 2006 - I expect a lot more from Full Auto for the Xbox 360. It's a shallow, repetitious game that runs its course in a few hours. While it looks good, it suffers from slowdown and a few bugs. It's a shame that after purchasing the Xbox 360 we are presented with only a handful of new games designed exclusively for the next-next gen console. The rest of the offerings are filler arcade games like Smash TV, Bejeweled 2 Deluxe and Robotron 2084. Games that could easily be ported to the Xbox. It's really disappointing that when a genuine game is published for the 360, such as Full Auto, that it's not much deeper than the glut of arcade ports.

Full Auto deals with racing and combat. Get a car, add some weapons, put on some armor, shoot at other cars and try to win the race. There's more to it than that but that's the basic premise. Once you learn all of the finer points of the gameplay, which may take an hour, there's really nothing more to experience. The cars, weapons, tracks and scenery are limited. Although you can always unlock some kind of upgrade, the game fails to motivate you to play to the bitter end. Online play, or just local multi-play, has its own rewards, and that comes in the form of beating another opponent. It helps to wring some extra replay value out of the game but not so much that you would consider adding this title to your collection. Most players will probably find that a day or two rental period is ample time to spend with Full Auto.

Racing events that require you to kill your competition always occur in the future. I always thought that such brutality would be eradicated as we evolved as a society and became more intelligent. Then I witnessed the creation of Ashley Simpson and Hillary Duff as pop stars and realized that we may indeed be regressing, which makes a premise like Full Auto very believable.

Career mode is where you'll experience the full brunt of the gameplay. Arranged with a series of races, you will arm your vehicle with whatever weapons, gadgets and armor that you are in a position to select. In each race objectives must be met that will earn you points. Objectives include destroying competitors, shooting at things in the environment and finishing a race in first place.

Weapons are acquired in pairs. They are installed at both the rear and front of the vehicle so that you can destroy cars in front of you as well as those gaining on you. Weapons are also used to shoot at objects in the environment. You start out with a machine gun and mine-dropper and progress to smoke screen, shotgun, grenade launcher and rocket launcher.

A boost meter fills as you slide around turns allowing you to access a turbo boost which will give you an incredible burst of speed to overtake your competition or to increase your distance from the pack. Cars fly, spin out of control, flip end-for-end and smash into buildings and other obstructions. There's flames and pieces of cars everywhere. Ramps let you take advantage of shortcuts as you launch yourself into buildings through the plate glass windows and find an exit on the other side. Full Auto is like a more realistic version of the cartoonish Smashing Drive.

Another interesting feature in Full Auto is Unwreck. It's like the sand power in the Prince of Persia that allows you to rewind time and start over from a point before a particular disaster. If you hit the side of a wall and end up in a collision you can access the Unwreck feature and try to avoid it the second time around. It's a strange addition for a racing game, since it does more than interrupt the flow of the gameplay - it actually forces it backward. But if you're really intent on finishing the race in first place come Hell or high water you can really get used to having a second chance to fix the errors of your ways.

The physics of the game is very loose and forgiving. For the most part the tracks are wide and while there are some sharp turns, once you commit them to memory you won't be likely to get into many more accidents. What you have to watch out for are the obstacles such as parked trucks, civilian traffic, crates, barrels and other items such as sofas that shouldn't be on the streets. You vehicle will always seem to be under attack from all of these elements, adding damage to it bit by bit.

The draw distance is excellent, allowing you to size up the oncoming obstacles and twists and turns to make the appropriate maneuvers. You can powerslide around the turns and avoid obstacles by applying the handbreak. It's a technique that isn't necessary thanks to the Unwreck feature but learning how to powerslide will ensure that you keep the action flowing. This is one of the few elements in the game that give it some depth since you'll need to play the game for hours, or even days, before you acquire the skill to use it fluently.

In Career mode you will unlock new cars, weapons, paint jobs and objectives. You will also earn medals such as gold, bronze and silver for your efforts. There are more than 20 different cars that you can unlock, each one an improvement on the last. Upgrades in handling, speed and armor are welcome but overall, the races seem too similar. Faster cars usually have better armor and can take on more damage but the competitors will also earn upgrades so that you will always be racing against similarly equipped vehicles. This makes all of the races relative to each another with no particular car having the upper hand.

Other modes include arcade and multi-player. You can play against one other racer offline or against seven others online. When playing online you can't use the Unwreck feature for obvious reasons as it would put all players back a number of seconds every time someone implemented it. That would be really unfair to the player out in front. Different competitive objectives are offered for online play which are just variations of the Career mode gameplay. The framerate takes a nosedive in the two-player offline mode but it also slows down whenever the camera zooms in during an explosion. The animation stutters and sputters as car parts fly and fireballs erupt into the heavens. The graphics of the explosions look great but the slowdown makes it seem like your viewing it in "bullet time."

The cars always maintain a showroom finish, even when they display damage. There isn't an incredible sense of speed to the vehicles which makes the challenge a little bit too easy. The backgrounds, buildings and obstacles look photo-realistic so I guess the developers want you to see the stuff they worked so hard on rather than have it go by as a blur. The music is techno which is subdued during the actual races. It never gets in the way but it doesn't generate any excitement either. The sound effects of the explosions, shotguns, accidents and motor acceleration are really all that's needed.

There just isn't enough variation or challenge to recommend Full Auto for a purchase, unless you just gotta have the shiny new Xbox 360 game. Use it and lose it.

Features:

  • No pre-calculated or canned animations. Players will never see the same wreck twice!
  • Unique Unwreck feature gives players the ability to control time, rectifying fatal errors, missed opportunities, and bad aim.
  • Distinct gameplay modes include a 60-event Career Mode, Pursuit, Arena, Tag, and Rampage. A host of mini-games add to the collection.
  • Collision, Jump and Death cameras magnify key moments. One-touch replays and customizable highlight reels amplify the awesome presentation.
  • Enjoy intense combat and unlimited replayability thanks to 20+ vehicles and 10 distinct weapon types.

By Colin Thames
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Full Auto (X360)
4.5
Graphics
Photo-realistic looking environments. The cars may be too shiny and plastic looking but they blow up real good.
3.1
Control
Overall the game is too easy to play. The Unwreck feature is good but it also takes a lot of challenge out of the game.
2.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The tunes are very low key and if you want to customize your soundtrack you have to select each tune for each race since there is a bug that keeps it from automatically playing your selections.
3.0
Play Value
You're bound to get a few more hours out of the online mode but the racing is still too forgiving even without the Unwreck feature.
3.0
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
Preview by Vaughn

One might be taken aback by the idea that Sega's first game for the Xbox 360 is one developed outside Japan. In any event, Pseudo Interactive best known for the lukewarm racer Cel Damage is at the helm of this next gen game described as a cross between Burnout, Twisted Metal and waitasec? Prince of Persia? You bet.

The gist of the game seems to be racing through streets that look they were designed for a next gen Project Gotham, but somehow got mixed up into a terrible Twisted Metal universe. We're talking real bad ass weapons here. Weapons that cause all kinds of damage to your opponents and the surrounding area. We saw footage of one particular weapon causing an explosion which sent a fuel tanker careening into a bridge, which just so happened to send the train on top of it flying in many directions. Yeah, that was cool.

The Prince of Persia aspect comes in due to your ability to rewind time or "unwreck" as the developers call it. If you take a dead end, don't make a jump, miss your enemy, simply rewind time and try again. We're not sure how this will work in realtime on XBL, but we're hoping that this insane power makes it into the online portion of the game.

Visually the game is looking very gritty and realistic. Tons of explosions were rocking the screen while a multitude of cars were racing, realtime environmental damage was happening at the same time as realtime vehicle damage and there wasn't a flicker of slowdown. Nice.

We think you'll be hearing a lot about this insane racer as the months go by and we think it's finally going to put Pseudo Interactive on the map.

Press:

Full Auto™ marks PSEUDO's premier contribution to the exciting realm of next-generation gaming.

Powered by the studio's proprietary technology and inspired by the best action and racing games throughout history, Full Auto delivers the most destructive racing experience ever.

Featuring heavily-armed vehicles throttling through highly-detailed and fully-interactive environments, Full Auto pushes the boundaries of next-generation hardware with a sense of speed and style all its own.

In addition to its visceral thrills, Full Auto also contains an innovative feature known as "Unwreck" which allows gamers to turn back time so that they might cheat death, rectify mistakes, re-attempt stunts, and correct their aim.

Click For Media
Click For Media
System: PS3, X360
Dev: Pseudo Interactive
Pub: Sega
Released: Feb 2006
Players: 1 - 8 Online
Review by Colin

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best