There are a lot of racing games around on nearly every game console ever created, they are one of the biggest sellers gaming wise. The Xbox 360 already has its fair share from PGR3 and Need for Speed and now to Full Auto, although Full Auto isn't your usual racer, this time its racing with guns, bombs and rockets. There is not much more to say about the gameplay side now, as that is what the game is about - race, shoot, race, shoot!
Redefining the meaning of "next generation," Full Auto™ is fully loaded with advanced technology. This game features high-speed arcade racing, explosive vehicular combat, and fully destructible environments, and custom cars. Blaze full-throttle through five explosive zones in 10 unique modes with one of 20 racecars stocked with combat weapons. You'll find extensive multi-player support via split screen modes, while Xbox Live® support ensures that Xbox 360™ gamers will be able to join their friends in the intense action
The basic premise for Full Auto is action, you drive around various courses with a couple of weapons attached to your car. There are various game modes for you to start playing. The first and largest of all is the Career mode, although this isn't particularly a career, more a drive around various courses in different cars killing others. Then we have Arcade Races, Head or Head and of course the most important - Live! play. Beginning the game in Career mode allows you to play quite a number of Tutorial races to get to grips with the general controls and what you are likely to have to do on the various stages that come up in the "Career"
The general jist of the game is to choose a vehicle, decide what weapons to fit to your car then go out and take on (usually) 7 other racers, each of whom are trying to win the race or just to blow you off of the road. The weapons at your disposal range from Missiles, Rockets, Shotguns to mines and grenades. The only real strategy to the game is decide what weapons you want, do you go for all out attack or try some defensive weapons like mines to drop behind you when you are leading the pack.
The cars themselves range from sports cars to trucks. You can choose different colours and unlock more colours the deeper you get into the game. Different cars handle varyingly from vehicle to vehicle, although early on in the game you will find it hard to notice any difference between the first few cars you have, only later on do you notice faster speeds and better/worse handling. The game generally likes to have you sliding all over the place, especially as nearly 99% of the time you will have the trigger button down at all times on acceleration. The courses themselves tend to offer up sliding game play anyway, as does the fact that boosts in the game are earned by doing slides and jumps (think Ridge Racer but less style). Using boosts in the game become vital if you want to aim to open up all the achievements by earning all of the "Full Auto" medals which are achieved by getting first place in each race you take part in.
Now as many of you will already know, Full Auto wants you to use your weapons and basically wreak as much stuff on screen as you can. The game has quite a large level of destructive and explosive scenery, from bridges to flaming buildings. Great you may think? well yes in general it is a lot of fun driving around and seeing so much going on at once, but some of the wreakage could have been used to improve the game play, exploding a petrol station or destroying a bridge could have hampered opponents behind you, but alas no, if you destroy something or collapse it, drivers and just go right though it out without any worry of getting damaged or knocked off course, the best you'll get is too much smoke making the drivers in Live! games not see where they are going. Also in Live! games, some drivers will just play the game as if its a race, which I guess is fair enough, but where is the fun, where is the shooting and destruction? The best way to get points in the game and to gain achievements is to go out and kill as many other drivers as possible.
The game also has quite a cool feature called "Unwreak", this does exactly what you expect from the name, pressing the right shoulder button on your gamepad will rewind up to 3 seconds of the race. It allows you to stop any damage caused to you and also helps you to take corners better. Personally I've used it in the game to dodge mines and things that get dropped by cars in front of me, its a great way to keep out of explosions and keep your car at the top of the race. Obviously this can't be done online as it would be a complete nightmare for designers, so you have to live without it on Xbox Live!
The game has about 50 achievements for you to collect for Xbox Live! Gamerscores, they range from completing various modes and killing a number of other cars, to the rank you are at on Xbox Live! races, this was one of the highlights of the game, there was regular achievements for users to get as they progress through the game, rather than getting them all early and not having much to aim for considering there is no story mode to the game and the career modes don't have a great deal of depth.
Xbox Live! play is a mixed bag, I enjoy playing it online but there were too few players during our review to give it a large going over. I have played around 20 races online and have lost most of them! The action side of the game works well online when there are a good amount of players in one race, if it is one on one it gets ridiculous as the person in front steams ahead with almost no chance of catching them as there isn't any interference from other drivers. There are leaderboards and a number of Xbox Live! achievements to be gained from playing the game online and you will get some added fun from the game this way, just don't expect anything fantastic once again.
Graphics & Sound
Project Gotham Racing 3 showed us just how good next generation racing games can be, admittedly they cheated us a bit on the HD resolution of the game, but lets not start that one up again. While the game doesn't reach the almost photo realistic heights of PGR3, it does show off some great physic effects and particle effects on screen, there can be so much going on at once with smoke, buildings falling down, fire, bullets and more flying all around you, it does manage to build up the adrenalin when playing the game.
Full Auto has a lot more happening on screen than PGR3 does, so it may be a little bit unfair to compare the two together, but when there are explosions all over the place in Full Auto, the frame rate and fluctuate a bit here and there. Also when I have crashed in the game and run out of unwreaking ability and then have to restart the races further back, I have sometimes suffered with a massive framerate drop of what feels like around 15 FPS, something I wouldn't have expected would slip through in a game like this. Textures themselves are mixed, sometimes the game can look pretty good, other times it can look poor, its a shame, there are also a few occasions when "pop-in" scenery appears while racing.
Sound work is nothing special, it has good noises for the cars and bullets, but there wasn't anything that really stood out to me even in full Dolby 5.1. The music is also repetitive which is a shame as I expected there to be at least some variety there.
Full Auto has been a hard game to mark, on one hand I have enjoyed it when I've played it in short bursts, on the other hand I can see past the action and see how much the game lacks depth and longevity. Career mode isn't really a career and you feel like you are playing the same races over and over again, just in a different car. Online play can be fun as long as you get a large group of players together otherwise racing isn't worth it. So overall? Well its a enjoyable title that would have been a lot better if it had a much cheaper price.