|Full Auto (2006)
Available for: Xbox 360
It’s been more than a month since the last Xbox 360 game was released for the system, and though a carload of new titles have been announced for the early Spring, fanboys have been itching for something new to get their greasy little hands on. Enter SEGA and their innovative arcade racer “Full Auto,” a game that looks great on paper, but fails to keep you entertained for more than a couple hours. In theory, “Full Auto” is the type of game that would have made the 360’s launch a much easier pill to swallow, but instead, it feels like a waste of $60 knowing that much better games are already on their way. The SEGA meeting that prompted the initial discussion for this game would have been an interesting one, though, because it’s essentially “Twisted Metal” meets “Burnout” meets “Mario Kart” meets “Prince of Persia.” A daring undertaking indeed, but since when has the creativity of game developers been lacking so much?
The premise of “Full Auto” is pretty simple: race your car through various city tracks whilst blowing up everything in sight. The most rewarding approach of this gameplay can be found in the Career Mode, which has been divided into seventeen chapters of destruction, and include objectives that range from straightforward street racing to levels that require specific tasks. Each level grades the player on things like place finish, track time, and Wreck Points (or the amount of damage you’ve dished out), and then awards you with a bronze, silver, or gold medal. Bonus content is also unlocked after each successful medal win, but it’s mostly just new colors weapon combinations for the cars. Speaking of the machines that get you from start to finish, the game’s vehicle selection is reasonable and offers everything from ricers to SUVs to trucks with snowplows attached to the front. The faster cars are obviously much more fun to race in, but the larger cars have increased durability and can take a bigger beating before calling it quits.
If you wanted a simple racing game, however, you would be playing “Project Gotham Racing 3,” or one of the other 360-exclusive racing titles that have flooded the marketplace recently. Instead, SEGA has upped the ante by placing giant automatic weapons atop the hood of your car. Who’s “Pimp My Ride” kidding? What I want for Christmas is a classic 50s convertible with two machine guns up front, and a grenade launcher on the back. Other weapons include a shotgun, cannon, rocket launcher, smokescreen and proximity mines, but the first combination is by far the most effective. And if blowing up your opponent countless times still hasn’t helped in earning you first place, you can always rely on your boost meter (which fills up as you drift around corner and launch off ramps), or your Unwreck Meter, a single-player option that allows you to rewind time and try again.
The fun only lasts so long, though, and by the time you’re halfway through the campaign, you’ll be wishing there was something else to do. Gameplay becomes incredibly tedious, and while the gimmick can be milked for a little longer in online play, the lack of the Unwreck feature steals from the original appeal of the title. Equally disconcerting is the troublesome lag that you’re forced to experience while driving through areas of large amounts of destruction. Sometimes, it’s just too much for the game engine to handle, resulting in a considerable drop in the frame rate; an effect that is frankly unacceptable for a title calling itself next-gen material. Still, “Full Auto” has its charms, and it’s also one of the easier games in the 360 catalog to rack up gamer achievements. You may not be ready to drop your next paycheck for a game that doesn’t offer both quality and quantity, but if you can dig up a few bucks for the rental fee, you’ll guarantee at least one day of machine-gunning satisfaction.