XBOX 360 REVIEW: FULL AUTO

It's fun, over too fast and a little flawed, but Full Auto will put a smile on your face for awhile. XBL users will get more bang for their buck though. by Vaughn Smith

February 20, 2006 - Let's face it. Full Auto has the stage all to itself. Released last week when the only other X360 releases were a week or so away, chances are high that people are going to invest in Sega and Pseudo Interactive's time-twisting, vehicular asskicker, just to have something to play. Full Auto is a full on assault on the racing genre of the Burnout variety and it accomplishes it's goal...which is to temporarily make you forget that there is currently nothing else to play for this system that you blew $500 on last November. Surely that alone will cloud some folks judgement as they'll only be too happy to be pressing the power button on the 360. However, if you look a little closer at Full Auto with a more discerning eye, you'll see a fairly shallow game wrapped in a blanket of onion paper depth offline. There looks to be a lot going on, but it's smoke and mirrors mostly - but again, it is a new game for the Xbox 360 and that's definitely a good thing, especially if you're not fond of EA's Fight Night series.

Full Auto looks great and it plays reasonably great which is what you'll be thinking for the first hour or so, while cursing me and my opinion for being "totally wrong and an assclown". Trust me when I say most gamers' enjoyment level of Full Auto should be compared to a full tank of gas. Drive around for a few hours and that level is going to drop considerably. Once you've discovered all of the nooks and crannies and have blown your way through the games' main mode, there really isn't any reason to revisit for long stretches, not even online as far as I'm concerned. In fact the game plays all of its cards almost from the start, so there isn't anything to really build to, aside from some new weapons. The game is missing the climax of excitement and I think that's why it's far too easy to get bored quickly. In the world of screenplay writing, your story should be presented within the first ten pages (10 minutes of screentime) so that the premise is set up and the events can now unfold with the audience now brought up to speed and along for the ride. You've seen movies that take too long to get where they're going and you become bored....you've also seen movies that smacked you over the head with their plot too early and you figured out the ending before you've needed to wipe your buttery popcorn digits on a napkin. Full Auto is like that. It's "bang, crash, boom, look at what I can do!" attitude is simply too busy to sustain over a long period of time.

Pseudo Interactive deserves kudos for attempting something entirely new in the racing genre. The ability to rewind time (called Unwreck) after you blow a curve or maneuver is fantastic; it's a really great mechanic (you won't find this ability when playing online for obvious reasons). That power combined with the ability to cause extreme environmental and vehicular damage is Full Auto's hook, which is definitely entertaining since it's bringing something entirely new to the table. Unfortunately the gimmicky powers bestowed upon you are also the games Achilles heel, because without them the racing is rather flat and doesn't stand on its own two wheels for too long.

Not that shooting things isn't fun. You're outfitted with two weapons - one in the front and one in the rear - and you can upgrade these weapons of mass desctruction as you progress. You won't be able to mix and match weapons as that would make the combat far too unbalanced, but some of you may look at that as a missed opportunity. I think Pseudo did the right thing by limiting the weapon sets. Controlling the cars while you're steering and shooting can get a little out of hand, but it's never too overwhelming. If you do screw up, you can always use Unwreck to do it right the next time. I found the cars a little floaty for my liking, but I've been playing a lot of Ridge Racer 6 lately so that could account for it. A Sherman tank would seem floaty after playing Ridge Racer.

Visually the game is a dynamic tour de force of frame rate and high res candy. Pseudo Interactive really went to bat and cleaned up the framerate from what I've seen in previous demo releases. There is still the odd sputter and stutter which is jarring, but I'll chock that up to first generation learning curve; next year at this time I won't be so lenient. Ewwwww, I bet they're scared now.... The environmental damage is great and oddly cathartic. I never knew I liked blowing stuff up as much as I do. Since you are encouraged to decimate the landscape as much as possible in your bid for greatness, you'll spend quite awhile wondering just what you can destroy and what you can't. The car models are equally as impressive but they should be as we are talking about the most powerful console available today. The replay cameras that display a particularly cool event that you've executed are a wonder to behold, but again, it's just all flashy glitz.

While the single player game is seriously over in a few hours, those who have the ability to play online will get the most mileage out of Full Auto. The online portion of the game is a blast and while it may not weather the test of time like the Burnouts and Project Gotham Racings of the gaming world, it will substantially increase the replay value. Other offline modes such as Arena, Rampage, Pursuit, and Tag most likely won't hold your attention after a few days, but they're welcome additions.

Sadly I couldn't seem to get the Custom Soundtrack to work properly, as the game will instantly revert back to the preset audio once it hits a loading screen. Hopefully Sega will release a patch shortly as I'm not particularly fond of the tunes that ship with Full Auto. Doesn't anyone test these things? The various sound effects of destruction, weapons, and car engines are done well.

Full Auto is a lot of fun, but it's more style than substance especially if you have no plans of taking it online. I'm definitely not out of line suggesting that you locate a rental copy and see if Full Auto does it for you. As a racer it's competent but it runs out of gas a little quicker than you'd expect for a full priced Xbox 360 title ($59.99).

Features:

  • No pre-calculated or canned animations. Players will never see the same wreck twice!
  • Unique Unwreck feature gives players the ability to control time, rectifying fatal errors, missed opportunities, and bad aim.
  • Distinct gameplay modes include a 60-event Career Mode, Pursuit, Arena, Tag, and Rampage. A host of mini-games add to the collection.
  • Collision, Jump and Death cameras magnify key moments. One-touch replays and customizable highlight reels amplify the awesome presentation.
  • Enjoy intense combat and unlimited replayability thanks to 20+ vehicles and 10 distinct weapon types.

By VaughnSmith
CCC Site Director

Rating out of 5
Full Auto (X360)
4.4
Graphics
Some framerate hiccups but mostly this game looks pretty hot.
4.0
Control
Extremely easy control scheme which makes driving and destroying things fun and intuitive.
3.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
I'm not a fan of the built in soundtrack and custom soundtrack doesn't work properly. Sound effects are pretty good though.
3.0
Play Value
Very short in length and a lack of single player depth. Online play will elongate the fun.
3.9
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
Preview by Vaughn

One might be taken aback by the idea that Sega's first game for the Xbox 360 is one developed outside Japan. In any event, Pseudo Interactive best known for the lukewarm racer Cel Damage is at the helm of this next gen game described as a cross between Burnout, Twisted Metal and waitasec? Prince of Persia? You bet.

The gist of the game seems to be racing through streets that look they were designed for a next gen Project Gotham, but somehow got mixed up into a terrible Twisted Metal universe. We're talking real bad ass weapons here. Weapons that cause all kinds of damage to your opponents and the surrounding area. We saw footage of one particular weapon causing an explosion which sent a fuel tanker careening into a bridge, which just so happened to send the train on top of it flying in many directions. Yeah, that was cool.

The Prince of Persia aspect comes in due to your ability to rewind time or "unwreck" as the developers call it. If you take a dead end, don't make a jump, miss your enemy, simply rewind time and try again. We're not sure how this will work in realtime on XBL, but we're hoping that this insane power makes it into the online portion of the game.

Visually the game is looking very gritty and realistic. Tons of explosions were rocking the screen while a multitude of cars were racing, realtime environmental damage was happening at the same time as realtime vehicle damage and there wasn't a flicker of slowdown. Nice.

We think you'll be hearing a lot about this insane racer as the months go by and we think it's finally going to put Pseudo Interactive on the map.

Press:

Full Auto™ marks PSEUDO's premier contribution to the exciting realm of next-generation gaming.

Powered by the studio's proprietary technology and inspired by the best action and racing games throughout history, Full Auto delivers the most destructive racing experience ever.

Featuring heavily-armed vehicles throttling through highly-detailed and fully-interactive environments, Full Auto pushes the boundaries of next-generation hardware with a sense of speed and style all its own.

In addition to its visceral thrills, Full Auto also contains an innovative feature known as "Unwreck" which allows gamers to turn back time so that they might cheat death, rectify mistakes, re-attempt stunts, and correct their aim.

Click For Media
Click For Media
System: PS3, X360
Dev: Pseudo Interactive
Pub: Sega
Released: Feb 2006
Players: 1 - ? Online
Preview by Vaughn

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best