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Full Auto (Xbox 360)


By Michael Palisano

Segaís Full Auto for the Xbox 360 delivers an unprecedented level of vehicular destruction in an arcade-style package of frenetic gameplay and slick special effects. The game offers players the chance to race against or destroy rival vehicles in a series of intensely brutal racing battles. Full Autoís massive crashes, explosive fully destructible environments, and multiple weapons make for an intense experience. Full Autoís coolest feature is the Unwrecking technique, which allows you to rewind the action and get a second shot at avoiding a crash or a rivalís attacks. This is smartly implemented, but the big question is if thereís enough substance under the hood to hold your interest over the long term? Check out our review and find out.

While Microsoftís new console is already home to several premiere racing titles, you can add Segaís enjoyable racer Full Auto that arrives on Xbox 360 screaming down the road at breathtaking speed, blowing away anything unlucky enough to get in its path. Developed by Pseudo Interactive, Full Autoís intense gameplay mixes Burnout: Revenge with Twisted Metal, with Burnout the more prominent influence. The game adds machine guns and ammo to the formula, as players go all out to try to destroy rivals, take out civilian vehicles and cause as much carnage as possible along the way. Set in a fictional city with fantasy cars, the game allows players to choose from a number of game modes ranging from single-race arcade mode to career, where you race through multiple courses and try to unlock additional items. These modes are basic and somewhat straightforward and most players should have little trouble getting into the action. You can choose to race against AI opponents or can go head to head via split screen and play against others via Xbox Live. Playing through the arcade mode is fun and allows you to get the hang of the basics without having to worry about present parameters. As you race through the game, youíll earn points for damaging other vehicles and more. The objective here is to play for a high score. Once the novelty of these modes wears off and youíre looking for more of a challenge, you can enter the Career mode for a deeper, more challenging experience.

Full Autoís Career mode begins with a series of training levels where you learn the basics of controls, weapons and how to use the gameís unique unwreck feature. These pass through quickly and itís on to the main event, combat racing. There are several types of racing modes including point-to-point, lap races, sprints and more. During each race, you have several objectives to complete including achieving a number of kills, finishing in the fastest time and earning wreck points. Causing chain reaction crashes and downing multiple cars in succession makes for some cool onscreen mayhem, while also increasing your score and meters. Beating these objectives means you win medals and unlocks which include additional races, vehicle and weapons upgrades and other extras such as additional colors. While the racing action is challenging in its own right, the game play has some pretty interesting twists. You race the other cars and can destroy them using either your front mounted machine guns or by dropping mines behind your vehicles. Most of the gameís modes involve combat and battles, though there are some straight-ahead racing areas where the weapons are disabled. You earn points for offing them, and in some races, a rival car is indicated, which you usually need to destroy at least once during the game. If your car is destroyed, you will respawn at full health again but you will lose many precious seconds. However, if you feel you could have made that last turn or avoided the mine, you can do something quite cool that hasnít been done in many racing games yet.  

Full Auto includes a boost meter, which gives your car a shot of nitrous, allowing you to speed past opponents. Using these lets the player achieve some breathtaking speeds, but this isnít even the best part of the gameplay. Full Autoís biggest draw is the cool unwreck feature, which allows you to rewind the action for the past several seconds and replay those last few seconds of the race. You can do this when your unwreck meter is active, and how much rewind time you get depends on how much time you have in your meter. You earn this time by wrecking other vehicles and causing destruction, and you donít need to use all your time at once. You have to be careful with this, and if you hold the meter too long, youíll find yourself back further than you want to be. However, you canít go back in time after youíve crossed the finish line, which is annoying. Using the unwreck feature strategically allows you to correct mistakes and get past difficult point in the race. While the unwreck feature seems like a showy gimmick at first, it definitely adds a new dimension to Full Auto. Using it strategically actually makes it an important tool when racing, and this technique can be used to turn disaster into triumph. Itís implementation is quite simple, you merely press the shift button and hold it down until you reach the point where you want to continue, giving you a better shot at finishing the races in the top-tier. Taken together with the gameís massive explosions and over-the-top crash physics, unwrecking helps to give Full Auto a unique feel all its own that helps it stand out from the pack.

Speaking of those massive explosions, Full Autoís brilliant visuals create a simply incredible landscape of destruction and mayhem that effectively shows off the Xbox 360 hardware. While the cars themselves arenít based on production model vehicles, they still display a high level of detail throughout, with detailed models that shimmer under excellent light sourcing. The gameís environments are rendered expertly, and show off the consoleís power, with bump-mapped streets and reflections giving the game a hyper-realistic look. The action flows at a solid frame-rate throughout and doesnít suffer from slow-down, which is impressive given the sheer volume of carnage onscreen at certain points. The explosions are spectacular, and literally explode off the screen when you crash, or destroy another vehicle. Adding to the dramatic crashes, the action usually slows down and zooms in for a close-up which can either be exhilarating or frustrating depending on which side of the bump your on. The gameís physics model is impressive in this area, with cars spinning, flying through the air and taking out entire buildings which only makes the gameplay more intense. The frenetic pace is complimented by the usual assortment of metal and rap music tracks, which do a good job of accenting Full Autoís manic racing action. Your first impression is likely to be overwhelming intitially, and you canít help to be blown away by the sheer magnitude of the chaos unfolding as you play. However, once you get beyond this, the gameplay begins to emerge, and while itís relatively solid, there are a few trouble spots that become apparent. 

For all those impressive visual pyrotechnics, Full Auto isnít without a few problems. It isnít trying to be a simulation, so there is some slack given because itís an arcade-style racer. Full Autoís control and responsiveness isnít realistic, and you feel more like youíre sliding than turning around corners, which is frustrating at first until you get used to it. The missions themselves become a bit repetitive after awhile, especially in the Career mode, which seems to drag later on. However, this is still a solidly entertaining game that succeeds in creating an unprecedented amount of chaos and fury onscreen. The visuals are excellent, highlighting a technically impressive engine that allows for an unprecedented amount of destruction, whether its vehicles or trackside objects. The level of chaos and destruction can be incredible at points, which makes the game feel like an evolutionary title that begins to deliver on the promise of next generation consoles. The slick unwreck feature might seem gimmicky on the surface, but it actually works well, and used strategically, can have a large impact on the races. The added modes and online play give it some added replay value, but this arcade racer is much more enjoyable in short-bursts, since itís flaws and repetitiveness become more evident as you play.  Itís not the deepest racing game on the market, but Full Auto still offers stunning visuals, visceral gameplay, and some intense special effects that make it one of the most impressive games on the 360 to date.

Grade: B-

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