How many times while playing a racing game have you wanted to pull out a machine gun or rocket launcher, and simply blast your opponent off the track? Or how about blowing up fully destructible buildings and causing mayhem on the streets in your mad struggle to get that coveted first place? Well that is the whole concept behind Full Auto, racing and shooting fused together to make a highly destructive next-gen racing game.
As great as this sounds, Full Auto is far from the perfect racing and shooting mix that you would expect to have you on the edge of your seat for the entirety of its lifespan. While the game is exceptionally fun right at the start, there are few things new to keep you going throughout Full Auto's 8- 10 hour career mode lifespan. It feels like you have experienced all Full Auto's joys after the first hour or two of gameplay, in fact, so it can feel a little repetitive in later stages.
When playing Full Auto, a number of things both positive and negative will stand out. Firstly, the game modes are well designed meaning that you are challenged to cause a certain amount of damage, as well as finishing the race in a certain position, or within a specific amount of time. These goals are often very well balanced in order to keep you in the action and to make the most of both the racing and destructive aspects of this game. Depending on your Performance there are three types of medals awarded for each race, the bronze 'S' medal is the easiest, and the 'Full Auto' gold medal the most difficult to achieve. Sadly there is very little to reward the perfectionist drivers who decide to get Full Auto medals in every race, as it will only result in unlocking some rather menial car colours.
During all the races there is a function called 'Unwrecking' which rewinds time for a few seconds, allowing players to rectify fatal errors and missed opportunities. This function, not too dissimilar from the time rewinding mechanics in the latest Prince of Persia games, is an original idea for a game such as this. It helps keep the game flowing at a fast and hectic pace, avoiding those less enjoyable moments where a bad mistake causes your vehicle to be annoyingly wedged between buildings, or toppled upside down due to a bit of careless driving you would like to pretend never happened. The 'Unwreck' metre is filled up by causing damage and destruction to your surroundings, and most importantly your opponent's vehicles. This means the more carnage you accomplish throughout the race, the more of the 'Unwreck' feature you can use.
The handling of the cars is very basic and most of the vehicles have a tail-happy sliding tendency. This helps a lot while aiming the forward mounted weapons which can't be directed separately, the machine guns being a good example of this. Other weapons, for instance the cannon and the shotgun can be aimed separately using the right analogue stick. There aren't a massive variety of weapon sets to choose from, most races just offer two or three of the total eight weapon sets available. Some of these weapon sets have two front mounted weapons, but most have one front and one rear mounted weapon. Full Auto's different weapons include missile launchers, rockets, machine guns, cannons, grenades, mines and smoke screens, each offering their own tactical advantage and destructive edge in a given situation. During the weapon selection screen there is a choice to set them both to the same power, or to have one more powerful than the other. The default setting is both level 2 weapons, but if you prefer a little more power on your front weapon than your rear (or vice versa), you can switch it up to a level 3 weapon and a level 1 instead. This makes for an interesting tactical decision before the races.
As well as the single player, Full Auto takes advantage of Xbox Live, with up-to 8 player online support. Sadly the 'Unwrecking' function cannot be used online, so it can feel quite basic in direct comparison to the single player game. However, other than this Full Auto plays very much like the single player experience, and online features are well utilised across the game, with hundreds of Xbox Live leaderboards to compare yourself to the rest of the world.
Graphically with the exception of the explosion effects and the destruction animations of buildings crumbling down, the game is rather disappointing. The frame rate is particularly poor with frustrating slowdown at key points during racing. The car models look reasonably nice, and all have decent damage models, but sometimes they look over shiny to the point that they almost look out of place with the dull looking environments which many races take place in. The sound in Full Auto is all rather typical, the weapons all sound somewhat generic, and the bland electronic background music will have you reaching for your Xbox 360 custom soundtracks in no time.
Full Auto is, overall, a decent game. It boasts much originality and despite the unimpressive sound and graphics, there is plenty of fun to be had with the game. Whether this fun lasts depends purely on the player, as some may find it gets too repetitive towards the end. If you always dreamed of a mix between racing and shooting mayhem, with a lack of other titles offering both, Full Auto could well be a game worth investing in.