There’s nothing some guys love more than fast cars and things that go BOOM, and Full Auto 2: Battlelines offers them both in one action packed game.
The original Full Auto was released back in February 2006 for the Xbox 360, and this destructive racer had the great idea of putting two different styles of gameplay - combat and racing - into one. This 360 version had many problems with it, not least frame rate issues in the races and limited multiplayer modes. Thankfully Sega has listened to the complaints and has produced a sequel on PS3 that's leaves the 360 original eating its dust.
Weapons of much destruction
Full Auto 2: Battlelines drops high-speed vehicles outfitted with deadly weapons and armor into fully realized and fully destructible urban street environments. Putting your foot to the floor while shooting at your opponents is all well and good, but with FA2 the destruction doesn't stop with your rival's bodywork. Fully wreckable environments mean wayward missiles can literally bring the house down, and far from discouraging such wanton destruction, FA2 sees it as a race winning ability.
There are four different modes to choose from. The first is career mode and is the main focus of the game. Each mission has a set of both primary and secondary objectives. The primary objectives range from finishing at least third in a race or killing a particular individual, and must be completed to move on to the next level.
The secondary objectives unlock all kinds of hidden bonuses such as extra vehicles, vehicle skins, weapons, and bonus levels but are much more difficult, such as being the last man standing/driving or finishing first. Whilst completing all of the secondary objectives can get frustrating, it does give a higher replay value. What's more, finally acing all the challenges will have you grinning like a NASCAR shareholder.
The plot - what there is of it - finds you in the near future taking orders from a computer named Sage who tells you of an evil gang that it taking over the streets, and it’s your job to stop them. While the story is very fire-and-forget, does a game of this type really need one? Probably not.
Scorched earth policy
Destruction is far more important than mere plot and thankfully the carnage not only looks the business, but sounds amazing. Each of the weapons you weld to your car unleashes an audio armageddon, penetrating the ambient engine roar and explosions that surround you like a aural armor-piercing round. Environmental devastation also blows your eardrums, as buildings topple to their doom the resulting boom shakes you more than any rumble mechanism ever could.
Of course the best sound in the game is the sound of your opponents ploughing into some debris you've left in your wake, and illustrates how important strategy is to FA2. In the original Full Auto, players would just try to take out the racers in front of them to win. But with FA2, Sega has done an even better job, making your surroundings act as a weapon, a defence, a trap and even an optional shortcut should you have the firepower to break through.
For example, imagine your languishing in last place then all of a sudden you blow up the main bridge ahead while taking an alternate route. This leaves everyone up ahead for dead as you pull off the miraculous upset and get the win. That’s what Full Auto 2 offers in single-player and eight-player online car-nage.
Online FA2 offers both racing and strategic (or wanton) destruction. There is also a battle mode which does nothing for me except to remind me of the good ole’ days when Twisted Metal was the most popular franchise on the PlayStation. Battle mode gives a nice distraction to the pure racing, and six different arenas await, peppered with vehicle powerups and the option of human (online) or AI controlled opponents.
While the level of mayhem is impressive, Battle mode doesn't really excite because the levels aren’t are just far too small. Your vehicle can get stuck in the most awkward places and it this gets tiresome very quickly. Also when playing solo game, the bots are as dumb as rocks. This is really unfortunate as Battle mode is the main focus of the game. The sadly absent split-screen multiplayer would have been a redeeming feature, as couch-based competitions with some friends would have really added to FA2's appeal.
The graphics in this game are great considering how much action is taking place on screen at any one time. Bullets fill the air, ricochets ping from every vehicle, and did I mention that the buildings surrounding you are getting blown up and falling down on top of you as well? Sega has delivered some very detailed visuals from the blisteringly real explosions to the dust hanging in the air after a structure takes a nosedive. What’s even more appealing is the ability to go back in time as if it never happened and avoid the entire crash just like in Prince of Persia. What makes this feature so unique is the fact that you can literally watch buildings put themselves back together brick by brick.
The controls are quite functional and responsive as you weave through the motorized mayhem. That being said, Sega has missed an opportunity to show off Sixaxis' motion sensing skills and deliver a virtual steering wheel to players. This would have added quite a bit to the enjoyment and further showcase why consumers should give a dang about motion sensitive controllers.
Playing through FA2 you'll enjoy blowing up various buildings to alter the route on the map, and this in turn will make you want to do the same race over and over. So good value-for-money. Whether you're an existing Full Auto fan or a vehicular violence virgin, Full Auto 2: Battlelines will offer a unique experience of simultaneous combat and racing to all gamers.
-The Final Word-
If you love cars and you love guns, this title is for you. Otherwise, we recommend you give it a rent.