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.
- 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.
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.