If you look down the line, into the future of Xbox 360 titles, you see some pretty complicated games coming our way. The likes of Elder Scrolls IV
and Mistwalker Studios' Lost Odyssey
and Blue Dragon
are designed to change gamer perceptions of Microsoft's console. Out of the gate, though, Xbox 360 titles have fallen back on the themes that made the original Xbox so popular: sports, FPS games, and racing. The Xbox already has two popular racing franchises to its name. The exclusive Forza Motorsports
is a powerful sim, while the multiplatform Burnout
series finds its shiniest home on the Xbox. Full Auto
, by developer Pseudo Interactive, tries very hard to interest the 360 owner with a brand new way to race. Strapping weapons to cars can only lead to good things, right? Unfortunately this modern title, in the vein of SJ Games classic Car Wars
, fails to do much more than explode prettily in the interested gamer's face. Read on for my impressions of this disappointing title.
There shouldn't be much here that can go wrong, right? The concept, at least, seems like a sure thing. Fully destructible environments, impressive weaponry strapped to interesting vehicle designs, racing through the streets trying to gank your opponents. There's even a new use for a design element we've seen elsewhere: the application of the Prince of Persia time-rewind to the racing genre. On paper, and in E3 previews from last year, the game looks like a sure thing. Not a testament to the storytelling power of gaming, to be sure, but a solid action game that will distract folks from playing Halo 2 on their four hundred dollar console.
- Title: Full Auto
- Developer: Pseudo Interactive
- Publisher: Sega
Things start off well. The game's tutorial makes it clear from the get-go that your aim is speed, to an extent, but the real way to impress the title is by blowing stuff up. The game walks you through the various components of racing the Full Auto way. You have your boost bar, refilled by doing slides and jumps. You have your unwreck bar, which is refilled by blowing stuff up. Weapons can be mounted front and back, giving you a number of options when you're out on a course. There are several gameplay types, including basic racing, time trials, wreck point targets to hit, and qualifiers to run. There are also 'underdog' races to run, where you're outclassed by every other NPC and still have to make it to the finish line in one piece.
All of these elements somehow combine to make the most shallow and uninteresting game I've yet played on the 360. The first time you play you find dark satisfaction when a car explodes, hit by one of your hood-mounted missiles. The first time you make a mistake use unwreck, you smile in appreciation. By your third or fourth race you're settled in, driving your opponents into trucks and laying open building facades with machine guns. You're playing by rote already. You keep opening up new matches, hoping there will be new elements revealed by different race types, but you're disappointed. Within the first half hour of play, you've seen every trick this game has up its sleeve. At least it looks nice.
As a 360 game it would be hard for Full Auto to look bad, and it doesn't. Graphically, the game is solid. The textures are nice, the autos are bright and move well, and the user interface is well thought out. Even here, I don't feel entirely satisfied. With a few exceptions, the backdrop you'll be racing in is very bland. The game that Full Auto begs comparison to is Burnout, and the intricate and highly themed tracks of that game make the dingy street corridors here look quite sad. There's a jump-cam effect that gives you a cinematic view of any aerial maneuvers you perform, but when the camera returns to a first-person perspective there is a jarring sense of discontinuity; Even if your car hit the pavement in the other camera mode, you're still in the air when control is returned to you.
Most frustrating, though, is the stuttering that persists throughout the game. In heavy traffic, you can pull the trigger in rapid succession and rack up an impressive number of kills. Vehicles respond in a realistic fashion, explosions bloom, shrapnel flies, all while you speed along the track ... the system is placed under a heavy load not just occasionally but frequently in this title. Knowing that, the pausing that takes place when in a heavy combat situation is intolerable. At times there is a disquieting 'driving through butter' sensation as the action slides to a crawl. This slowdown doesn't take place during every crash or explosion, but it happens often enough to be a distraction from the only thing this game has going for it. The most frustrating aspect of this title is the purity of the experience. The game may only do one thing, but it does that one thing fairly well. I really want to like this game. I could see myself occasionally popping into Full Auto for an online match with someone on my friends list, or trying for a new wreck point max to blow off some steam. The key is that, in this vision, the game is a $20 download from Xbox Live. The depth of this game is very similar to what I've seen from some of the better Live Arcade titles, and the simple gameplay bears a resemblance to those downloadable morsels as well. The price Sega is asking for this game is a slap in the face to anyone browsing the recent release wrack. My vision is false, and in reality this is a $60 title you have to physically drive to a store to buy. I recommend against that. If you're in the mood to blow stuff up while driving, rent this one instead. It's just not worth the money for the variety or consistency I've seen here.