the pickings have been slim to be sure but that, my fellow Xbox 360 owners, will change with the coming weeks. The console may have launched with Project Gotham Racing 3 and Ridge Racer 6 but what racing fan wouldn’t welcome a game that mixes the usual racing essentials with a touch of Twisted Metal and a dash of Burnout? The result is Full Auto, a destructive racing game where you have to do anything to win … including blasting your enemies away with your mounted guns and rocket launchers.
If you’re expecting a story mode or a career mode that explains why a collection of shiny cars are racing across the streets of various different venues you’ll be disappointed. Full Auto is about the racing and the destruction you cause in order to get to the finish line. There are three playable modes in this game: Arcade, Career and multiplayer (both online and offline using a single 360 console). Career mode is that main mode since here you will get to unlock new vehicles, race courses and a few extras you can use in the game’s Arcade mode.
You start your career by playing through a few Tutorial races that help you get to know the game’s controls, racing style, weapons and special features. As far as the racing is concerned, it’s nothing we haven’t already seen in a racing game. There are the usual circuit races that have you going through two laps, a point-to-point race that has you going from Point A to Point B and a Down-And-Back race that has you racing to the finish line then quickly racing back to the starting point. There’s even a standard Lap Knockout that eliminates the last racer at each checkpoint and a Rampage mode that has you destroying enough cars and buildings for points.
The cars you get to drive may not be licensed vehicles (they have funny names like the Honcho, and the sleek and sexy Ardent) but they resemble real-life vehicles. There are muscle cars that resemble classic Ford Mustangs and one that looks like the new Dodge Ram but rest assured that these cars drive the way they should. Did I mention the mounted guns and rocket launchers? There are selectable weapons you can equip each car with and that include forward mounted weapons and secondary rear weapons. For example, you can have twin machine guns as your primary front weapon and have explosive mine canisters as your secondary weapons or have mounted rockets up front and smoke screen for when you want to give your rivals the slip. The cool part is that each weapon type has three levels that can be unlocked the more you play.
What sets Full Auto apart is the fact that not only can you blow up your enemies but you can also destroy oncoming traffic as well various buildings and other environmental details. You can, for example, blast open an auto dealership and use it as a shortcut or destroy an oil tanker and watch its burning remains get in the way of the other racers. Want to give your car an extra push, the more unique moves (like power slides and near misses) you make the more you fill your Boost meter to give you a short burst of speed. The real unique twist, however, comes in the form of Unwreck. Unwreck allows you to “rewind” back time before you made that most fatal crash or accidentally ran over a mine and get another chance by pressing the RB button.
As far as the controls are concerned, this game manages to make the driving uncomplicated and, thusly, easily accessible. Of course, there are a few times the game runs into a few stutters, especially when the rockets really start tearing the environments. There are race courses to unlock along the way and each venue adds its own twists and turns and shortcuts. The problem is that by the time you get to the last few races you’ll feel as though you’ve seen it all and done it all.
Visually, Full Auto will not knock your socks off. Sure, it displays some sharp and nicely detailed vehicles that are shiny and break apart to the point that you can even see the driver get ejected out of the vehicle most gruesomely. The environments look decent enough but the real treat is in watching them crumble from a rocket as chunks of concrete and shards of glass shower down on the streets. You’ll be glad for the One-Touch Replay that allows you to replay a particularly spectacular crash or destructive act. Even the black and white warping effect of Unwreck is just Ok.
The game’s sound effects are only passable at best, which is something of a disappointment for a game that’s big on nasty crashes and explosions. If you’re hooked up to a good sound system everything from machine gun fire to crashing into a deli is slightly enhanced but we’re talking only minor improvement here. There’s a soundtrack, mainly electronica tunes that sound the same, just aren‘t very good.
Full Auto is game that could have been a deliciously destructive racing game since it does have all the right elements in place but sadly the game isn’t innovative enough to keep the racing fresh. Sure it’s great to be able to blast away at your rivals and tear through environments that fall apart but with very little variety this Xbox 360 game provides just enough fun to make this a good weekend rental.
Drive to the finish line while shooting or blowing up your opponents … that’s pretty much all there is to this game. There are a few variations to the race modes and that’s what hurts this game the most. These simplistic controls make for a pick-up-and-play racing game.
This isn’t the most visually amazing Xbox 360 game you’ll find but at least the cars look good in action and the destruction is actually impressive. There are some stellar moments that will have you wishing there was a way to capture particular moments during a race.
The game’s tunes are repetitive and not very good but at least the sound effects are handled just right. Still, it would have been nice to have more detailed crash sound effects and louder explosions.
The opponent AI makes for some brutal races at any difficult setting and the environments play a role in either aiding you or get in your way if your driving gets out of hand. It’s a challenging game, all right.
Many of the vehicles, especially the muscle cars, are actually cool and adding various weapons to the mix makes for a real destructive action-packed experience. The destructible environments are great but being able to “rewind” mistakes on the fly works perfectly.
Sure you can play the game using a single Xbox 360 (split-screen action) but the real action is online where the game moves at a somewhat steady framerate.
Full Auto pushes the pedal to the metal but it runs out of speed way too quickly. It’s a game with all the right elements to give Twisted Metal a run for its money but as it stands this is really just a simplistic racing game that could have been a lot better considering the power of the Xbox 360.This one is a definite rental, indeed.