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Auto Assault

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Publisher: NCSoft
Developer: NetDevil


PC Preview - 'Auto Assault'

by Mark Crump on June 9, 2004 @ 12:50 a.m. PDT

Combine fast-paced vehicular combat with high-tech, futuristic weaponry and hundreds of intense skills and you get Auto Assault – a unique departure from traditional Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). Hop in your own customized cars, semis, and motorcycles and prepare to fight the mutated creatures and bandits of Auto Assault's post-apocalyptic world. Battle other players both in arenas and in epic race vs. race wars for control of the regions in a devastated Earth. Auto Assault uses the power of the Havok physics engine to let you make insane jumps, send obstacles flying and even blast bridges, buildings, fences and trees with your car-mounted rockets. Anything you can hit, you can destroy!

Genre : MMORPG
Developer : NetDevil, LTD
Publisher : NCsoft
Release Date : 2005

I’ll get the obvious pun out of the way early: Auto Assult is a “car”-pg. More accurately, it’s like taking “Mad Max” and combining it with EverQuest; Auto Assault, you see, is a vehicular-based MMOG set in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s an original idea that sure beats killing large rats in other online games.

The story’s not terribly original – is any post-apocalyptic story ever original? Following the obligatory nuclear war, three races – Human, Mutants and Biomeks - are vying for total control. I guess that means we can kiss the “why can’t we all just get along” hope out the window, huh? Each race has its own unique qualities: the Humans are big on the whole genetic supremacy thing, but are easy to kill outside their vehicles; the mutants believe in Devine Evolution; but the Biomeks, who have fused with their cars in a quasi-transformer role were definitely the coolest.

NetDevil is also attempting to get away from the “fire-and-forget” combat modes of competing MMOGs, where you can initiate an attack and go make tea. What they’ve done is made the combat “twitchy” by forcing you to react to what your opponent is doing. There’s an aiming reticule for your primary and secondary weapons that you’ll need to keep focused on your opponent.

The base of your vehicle is the chassis, be it a sports car, motorcycle, semi, tank, etc. Like its competition, Auto Assault is loot driven. The items you get can improve an attribute, give you a new attack, or just visually improve your ride. You can also purchase new vehicles and some upgrades.

The missions in the game are instanced and are a mixture of handcrafted and scripted. You can join a Convoy, the games term for a group, or do some of them solo. Some of the damage you do is persistent; if you get a mission to destroy a dam, on later missions the dam will be destroyed.

The PvP portion of the game revolves around things called Outpost Battles, where, as you can probably guess, you fight to control a factional outpost. You can then collect components like turrets to improve the base, making it easier to defend. There’s also a PvP arena where you can have tournaments using ladders and brackets, as well as Clan-v-Clan battles.

There is a crafting component as well. You use a blueprint – Auto Assault’s version of a recipe – to craft the component, and you can experiment on it as well to improve the results. Resource gathering isn’t as passive as in other games; here you fight monsters near resources to get the piece you need. I guess the food supply is in such sad shape that the monsters have taken to eating aluminum to stay alive. That aside, it’s nice to see that the crafting component also revolves around the hell-on-wheels combat model.

The game uses a combination of the Havok physics engine and the Palantier graphics engine to create a completely destructible environment. Don’t like that building being there? Just hit it with your flamethrower and torch it. It’ll respawn again in a few minutes, giving you another chance to vent some pent-up frustrations. The game is mostly played in isometric view, but you can customize the camera angle. The water effects were particularly impressive, and heat-based weapons, like the flamethrower, throw off heat waves that distort the air around them. The game will also support various controllers like racing wheels, joysticks, gamepads, etc, as well as voice chat.

Auto Assault is going to be subscription based, and the developers were closed mouthed on any release date, so expect this one late next year at the earliest. Which is a shame, because Auto Assault looks like a nice break from the fantasy-based MMOGs that have the lion’s share of the market.

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