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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Full Auto 2: Battlelines
(Sega for Playstation 3)

Enhancing last year's car combat title in a number of ways, Full Auto 2: Battlelines is a solid sequel. It adds increased realism, better physics and handling along with several new modes of play. The basic premise emphasizing racing and shooting remains intact, as does the signature rewind mode and destructible environments. It adds a new arena combat mode where you face off against foes in a large open arena, while the game's career mode is deeper with an elaborate storyline and more missions. Look inside and find out how Full Auto 2 improves on the first game and why it's one of the more entertaining PS3 titles to date.

Not content to rest on their laurels, developers Pseudo Interactive have pumped up their combat series for its PlayStation 3-exclusive sequel. While it stays true to the basic premise of the first title, Full Auto 2 expands and refines the formula that made the first game so successful. The new game features some of the same areas as the original game, but they've been made larger with more detailed graphics and a smoother appearance overall. From an aesthetic standpoint, the game's visuals look much better than the first game. The levels display a greater level of detail with improved light sourcing, more realistic environments and a more realistic appearance. Full Auto 2's car models have also been upgraded and look much better than the original's vehicles which seemed to look like toys. The levels are larger with more elaborate layouts and include additional hidden areas and alternate routes which adds to the variety of the gameplay. This makes the game more challenging while not really making things overly complicated. The tracks are larger and include more destructible objects, which players can target to collapse on opposing vehicles to cause chaos and damage on unsuspecting rivals. This not only creates some really spectacular effects, its also a key strategy that's essential to winning races. The targeting controls have been improved and allow for more accurate shots at opponents, allowing you to destroy them much easier. Likewise, the number of cars, types and classes has also been expanded so there are now more than 20 available in the game. You begin with a limited number of vehicles but can unlock additional cars and trucks by playing through the extensive career mode, which also allows you to earn additional vehicle upgrades.

One of the coolest features that made Full Auto stand out from the pack was its innovative Unwreck feature. This is basically a rewind button that allows you go back a few seconds in a race if you crash, allowing you to replay a turn crashed or get out of the way of mines. Knowing when to use this is one of the key strategies in Full Auto 2, often making the difference between winning and losing. Unwrecking feels a bit more refined this time around with better integration in the gameplay. The controls are better which allows for better precision in the timing, and doesn't seem as gimmicky as it did the first time around. Since the main game is more robust and challenging, you don't need to rely on it so much, and it doesn't feel like a crutch to mask exaggerated controls. Full Auto 2 includes some cool weapons in its garage, and these can be mounted in either the front or rear of the car and mapped to the primary or secondary fire buttons. You can select which weapons and their position before each race on the configuration screen, and there's quite a variety to choose from. Weapons include machine guns, shotguns, missiles, mines, oil slicks and smoke screens that can destroy opponents. Each weapon has a limited amount of stock and will overheat for a time, so you can't waste your shots unless you want to be left without any defenses. Full Auto 2 is a bit deeper and expands the selection with over two dozens weapons in all. The controls have also undergone substantial improvement and tweaking, which shows up immediately in the easier maneuverability of the vehicles. Turning around corners and drifting feels more precise and timing jumps is also more intuitive. While the gameplay retains the arcade-esque exaggerated feel that made the first game so popular, things feel more grounded in reality which makes the driving more realistic and satisfying.

Full Auto 2 includes many different gameplay modes, which adds to the title's longevity and depth. You can start off with a few fun rounds in the arcade mode, where you can race a single level against foes. This is fun, but ultimately doesn't offer the depth and challenge to keep the game in your PS3 for long. Once you delve a little bit deeper into the game, you can play the Career mode, which is deeper and much improved from last year's installment. In this mode, you are a lone driver looking to free the city from a gang of thugs that have taken it over. An on-board assistant gives you a brief rundown on the objectives and goals for each race. There are different tasks you need to complete and new types of races with more challenging objectives. Some races require you to take out a targeted opponent before the time runs out, or reach a certain number of eliminations during the race. As you win these rounds, you'll unlock bonus packs which contain additional weapons, skins and vehicles. This mode is quite intense and adds a focus and coherence to the gameplay that gives you a strong motivation to keep playing. In addition, Full Auto 2's online modes have been expanded as well with additional modes of play. There are five online modes that offer a variety of challenges, along with better player matching and smoother play to make this a more robust and intense part of the experience.

One of the key additions to the game this time around are the new Gladiator Arenas, where you face off against other racers in an all-out battle destruction and mayhem. The arenas are fairly large and the expansive areas feature hidden sections, destructible objects that you can use and numerous power-ups. You can choose to let the other racers battle it out or jump right into the fray and shoot them to smithereens. These modes have a time limit, and players are ranked on both the number of kills and the how often they've been fragged. At the end of each level, the player with the most points wins. While the arena battles feel very different from the standard racing modes, one of the coolest aspects is that you can use the Unwreck feature here as well, which gives Full Auto 2's arena battles a distinct approach and strategy. These arena battles are quite intense and enjoyable, which makes them a very welcome upgrade from the last game. It definitely adds to the variety in the mission modes, and feels like a natural extension of the series' approach to combat racing.

Full Auto 2 fixes the more glaring problems from the first game and adds some new elements that make the action more exciting and intense. The vehicles' controls are much better this time around, and the cars feel more solid and steer more realistically. While the game retains an arcade feel, you won't find yourself swerving out of control this time around and shooting feels more precise. This makes the action slightly less exaggerated, but more satisfying. From an aesthetic standpoint, the graphics have undergone an impressive facelift and feel more detailed and robust this time around. The game's new open-ended arena battles mark a welcome change of pace and allow you to concentrate on blowing things up. Add to this, a deeper career mode with a better back story and you can credit the developers for adding depth, but Full Auto is still an arcade racer at heart. The bottom line is that Full Auto 2: Battlelines is a much improved version of last year's game, offering improved controls, better graphics and exciting modes.

Grade: B

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