Developer: Pseudo Interactive
Release Date: Q4 2005
Now this will involve thinking way back, the length of which being painful for some to attempt, but think back to when you were little. Remember how you had the Matchbox cars and imagined them racing each other and doing whatever was necessary to cross the finish line first? Missiles making opponents fly into heaps of rubble, explosions, and ridiculous amounts of violence? Maybe it's just my childhood that was as strange…
In either case, Pseudo Interactive has captured that same wanton destructive glee and digitized it in the form of Full Auto, coming out for both the Xbox 360 later this year. In Full Auto, your objective is to race across the finish line first, an act that any gamer should expect from a racing game. Muddying the waters somewhat as to how to actually accomplish that task is the fact that every car in the game, from sports car to SUV, comes fully equipped with machine guns and missiles. What happens when you take eight vehicles, high speed, and enough ammunition to supply a small war?
You've probably already drawn the first conclusion; these cars are obviously going to drive around, powerslide around corners, and shoot at each other with some amount of fury. Indeed, the cars of Full Auto can take a beating but ultimately wither from all of the gunfire that can rain down on them, making dodging enemy gunfire and lining up your own almost as important as racing competitively. When cars take that one hit too many, they act much as you would expect an exploding automobile traveling in excess speeds would – by sending charred body panels flying, skipping and sparking on the concrete, catching air, and then simultaneously plowing through a storefront and taking out a fire escape in mid-air. The machine guns are fairly weak but are very easy to use, while missiles pack a ridiculous punch but travel relatively slowly, and the firer must lead their target.
So, you fire a missile and miss, and that missile careens off. In previous racing games with weapons as a gameplay element, the player may as well disregard that missile; the game surely does, as the missile hits an invisible wall and disappears. In Full Auto though, that same missile will continue on its merry path… right into that train bridge, causing the whole thing to collapse. Oops, there was a train on it? Down it goes too. You aim high in a bout of powersliding madness and hit a skyscraper in its midsection, and you'll watch as huge chunks of the building rain down like meteors to the poor racers below. The sheer amount of carnage that can go on at any one time, just what you see on-screen even, is enough to make a chess grandmaster think he has A.D.D.
By racing well and taking out opponents, you gain two valuable commodities: boost power and rewind ability. Boost is fairly self-explanatory and allows you to go much faster than normal, operating in a matter similar to Burnout 3. The rewind ability is something straight out of Prince of Persia, allowing you to rewind time to correct mistakes. With all of the high speed powerslides and ridiculous jumps going on, not to mention the explosions and withering machine gun fire, the ability to give something another go after failing fairly spectacularly is a welcome and useful addition.
Graphically, Full Auto requires me to rework the toolbox I use to describe video game visuals. Without degenerating into a babbling loon, the title simply looks amazing, and even when the on-screen action gets intense, the framerate never skips a beat. The cars themselves look excellent both before and after they explode, buildings (and, well, everything else for that matter) realistically take damage and get destroyed in the chaos, and the special effects are of the quantity and caliber up until this point only seen rendered in movies. Seriously, if you were to take a freeze frame of a battle with three cars firing at each other, it would take one of the developers literally minutes to point out everything that was going on. Remember a time in gaming when missiles hit a building and it just went poof, and maybe left a scorch mark for a few seconds?
If Full Auto turns out to be an Xbox 360 launch title, it'll serve an additional purpose. With its ridiculously detailed graphics engine Full Auto will undoubtedly serve as one of the first-string titles that really shows off the potential of the Xbox 360's capabilities; the title in itself was almost a spectator sport on the E3 show floor. More importantly though, for as graphically advanced as the title is and for as simplistic as the design of the title is, Full Auto is a throwback to a time when games were simply fun and also as a shining beacon that good ideas still exist in the minds of developers. Pseudo Interactive, my inner child weeps with joy.
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