Full Auto Reader Review
Life is so unfair isn't it? Certain titles can stumble around in a state of constant mediocrity and retain good scores based on the media's cowardly inability to honestly review updates to popular franchises, while games which address many of the faults in the aforementioned popular franchises get put to the sword for no apparent reason.
Enter Full Auto, the new pretender to the crown of arcade racers. The combination of ideas at the very core of this new Sega-published title is a simple one: take some cars, add some guns. Full Auto, however, adds one important ingredient to this seductive combination: A fully destructible environment. This fact alone is pretty much enough to allow for the game's recommendation. While on the Xbox, it was noteworthy if sign posts and litter bins were deformable, In Full Auto upper stories of distant buildings can be blown to pieces and entire petrol stations can be detonated. Thus, even without the racing, this sheer amount of devastation would mean that Full Auto would be an utterly enjoyable experience for anyone who has testicles. This is quite fortunate, as destruction is pretty much the only card Full Auto has up its sleeve. However, at the same time its noteworthy that developers Pseudo have put every effort into making sure that the solitary trick their pony performs works pretty damn well.
One particularly controversial element has been the implementation of Full Auto's 'Unwreck' feature. Despite its fancy name, 'Unwrecking' simply involves the ability to rewind brief periods of time in order to correct mistakes such as running over enemy mines or jumping into the sea (think Prince of Persia). Some argue that this makes the game to easy, and while it is certainly true that the only limitation on unwrecking is a bar which is all-too-easily refilled through the implementation of a bit of mindless violence, such a criticism misses the point of the game. If you want careful, precision racing PGR3 is the game for you as Full Auto is an entirely light hearted affair. Unwrecking may make the game a tad easy, but at the same time unwrecking is one of the features that make Full Auto so enjoyable. While many other arcade racers, Iím looking at you NFS:MW, can quickly cause frustration as the 'slipply-slidey' handling falls short of the task of the precise traffic-dodging the game requires, the ability to undo those infuriatingly race-ending mistakes means that Full auto is never anything less than a thrilling experience - especially as it means you can afford to go for those risky bits of stunt work which would have you reaching for the 'restart race' option in any other game of Full Auto's ilk.
On the subject of handling, itís also worth noting that as arcade racing games going, the handling of the cars in Full Auto isn't all that bad. Of course, it still adheres to the age-old pivotal/slide formula which you expect to find in pretty much any other arcade racer, but the implementation here does at least reward the skilful. Not only is there no Burnout-style wall hugging to be found, but the fact that jumps and powerslides are the only way to fill your self-explanatory 'boost' gage does mean that there is a certain degree of skill in finding just the right amount of handbrake to allow you to balance filling your boost gauge against the maintenance of a good level of speed.
The game is however, deserving of some criticism in the presentation department. The functional menus are far from inspirational and the somewhat non-descript musical score will surely have many looking to their custom soundtracks. The in-game graphical presentation is however, far more commendable. Though the cars all handle in a similar fashion, there is a good variety of character models on offer and there is also a reasonable mix of urban and more rural tracks available, even if there is a degree of repetition. More importantly, the in-game graphics do much to complement the feast of carnage on offer. The player and opponent cars in particular are all tremendously detailed, from the pipes on the underside to the magazines being rapidly loaded into roof-mounted machine guns, and are all rewardingly deformable. While the fire and smoke effects are also second to none, the most rewarding graphical aspect is the sheer amount of debris you can generated during your motorised shooting spree. Not only can anything be destroyed, but everything falls apart in fairly convincing and satisfying manner, making Full Auto one of the most enjoyable videogame experiences of recent times - especially as early framerate problems have generally been cleared up.
Unfortunately for Full Auto and 'Pseudo', the reviews so far have not been kind. One particularly prevalent criticism has been Full Auto's lack of a story. Why is it then, that Burnout was not criticised for not containing any Shakespearean monologues? Why was Outrun 2 not chastised for its blatant disregard of character development? This major criticism seems somewhat nonsensical. Full Auto isn't supposed to be comparable to a great work of literature or a pretentious foreign language film. It's the video game equivalent of an 80's Arnie film. No brains involved - just a volatile mix of guns, explosions and violence. This is why it succeeds. It's essentially on the same intellectual level as your Burnouts and your Need For Speeds, but the crucial difference is that Full Auto removes the tedious difficulty which other arcadey-type games use to disguise the fact that they're as shallow as they actually are. Full Auto isn't one for those looking for a deep and difficult experience; itís simply a dose of guilty, destructive pleasure. Thus, on its own merits, Full Auto deserves a solid 8/10 - and that's before you factor in the fantastically madcap multiplayer aspect.
8 / 10