Full Auto 2: Battlelines Review

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Full Auto is an Xbox 360 exclusive and in my opinion, one of the best racing games on the system. I describe it as Burnout with weapons. It’s fast, fun, action-packed and addictive. It came out in February, 2006 and ten months later, the sequel would be released. Developed by Pseudo Interactive and published by Sega, Full Auto 2: Battlelines was released for PlayStation 3 in December, 2006. Deep Fried Entertainment worked on the PSP version which was released in March, 2007. For this review, I played the PS3 version.

There is an actual plot in Full Auto 2 and it centers on SAGE, a sentient tasked with guiding Meridian City through crisis. Its core systems were disabled and the police force was neutralized as a result. A group known as the Ascendants have taken over and resumed a deadly tournament spanning all throughout the city. Somehow, SAGE was able to beckon a driver (the player) and tasks them with infiltrating their events in order to return peace to the city. As you progress through the Career mode, SAGE reveals more about what’s going on.

Full Auto 2 does support local and online multiplayer but the servers were shutdown some time ago. The single player modes include Career and Arcade and they should keep you occupied for a while. The Career mode takes you through multiple series of events and is where you unlock vehicles, skins, and weapons. Vehicles are split up into different classes and have different stats in speed, handling, durability, and weapon capacity. You can accelerate, brake, powerslide, boost, and self-destruct. Unwrecking, the ability to rewind gameplay, does make a return and both Unwreck and Boost drain your energy gauge. Energy can be replenished by performing jumps, stunts, and powerslides. Before starting an event, you can choose your vehicle’s color and/or skin and choose what weapons to mount to the front and/or rear. Best of all, you get to choose individual weapons instead of presets so you’re not forced to use specific combinations like in the last game.

Full Auto 2 is a combat racing game and I would even say a vehicular combat game and feels more action-oriented than its predecessor. Many events are more-or-less slight variations of different race types like circuit races, point-to-point races, and lap knockout. There’s also Gladiator events which are arena-style matches and the most common objective is to destroy opponents. Each event requires you to complete a primary objective, sometimes multiple. Objectives include things like eliminating specific opponents, protecting allies, destroying stuff, beating certain times, and winning races, among other things. Each event also comes with optional secondary objectives and the more objectives you complete, the more stuff you unlock.

The weapons you choose and the vehicle stats are a little more important this time around. The higher the weapon capacity, the more powerful weapons you can equip and the higher the durability, the more damage the vehicle can withstand. All of the weapons from the first game have been carried over and the arsenal has been expanded with new toys including a ram, flamethrower, even a laser. It’s wise to choose the right weapons for the event which can boil down to trial-and-error. Sometimes opponents can be eliminated easily and other times, they can take a beating and some weapons are simply better for certain situations. Skill is also required as is memorization of certain tracks.

I would say Full Auto 2 is more challenging than its predecessor. There are pickups on the tracks and in the arenas to aid you and are a way to balance out the increase in challenge. These pickups include full repair, unlimited fire which allows you to fire rapidly without your weapons overheating, unlimited boost, and different types of mortars. These, along with the Unwreck ability, can help you get out of jams and evade destruction. The opponent AI doesn’t mess around during races, especially in the later events. AI opponents are aggressive, they go for pickups, they will take shortcuts, and the game features obvious rubberbanding. If you don’t drive a fast enough vehicle, they will constantly be up your ass which also means they will attack you, sometimes relentlessly. Many of the faster vehicles don’t have high durability and many of them cannot equip the more powerful weapons so depending on the event or the objectives you want to focus on, sometimes the fastest vehicle isn’t always the best choice.

One thing I noticed about Full Auto 2 is that there’s rarely a dull moment. The action is constant. In the first game, you could get a big lead and I would often have to slow down to engage opponents. I have no doubt the more action-packed gameplay has to do with the rubberbanding and more aggressive AI. As a result, some objectives can be quite challenging and it’s sometimes better to revisit previous events after unlocking new cars. Depending on the event, you can get ambushed or new opponents appear out of nowhere, and most of the time, you’re up against multiple. If you have a super fast vehicle, you should be able to win races rather easily even with the obvious rubberbanding. I can’t say I had too much trouble completing most of the primary objectives but some of them and many of the secondary objectives can be tough.

In the Arcade mode, you’ll get to choose the game type, track, and configure different event settings. You’re going to race on several tracks and drive around multiple arenas, all set in different districts of Meridian City but many of the race tracks in particular feel familiar. Several tracks and/or segments of certain tracks feel like they were taken directly from tracks in the first game. There are new tracks here but I can’t say anything about the urban environments really stands out compared to the first game. On the plus side, the environments are still highly destructible which is still awesome. You can obliterate traffic vehicles, drive through buildings, severely damage buildings, and even bring some buildings and structures down. The arenas are open so you’re free to drive anywhere you want and tracks will include multiple paths and shortcuts, jumps, tunnels, and plenty of things to crash into.

Full Auto 2 does look pretty good and runs in 1080p. The visual effects in particular really make the action look exciting. Speeding down roads as you blast away the competition and see things around you explode can be quite exhilarating. Sparks fly through the air, vehicles show deformities, and environments can be torn apart. Many of the urban tracks kind of look and feel the same but the texture work is solid and the environments showcase some neat details ranging from cracks in the roads to signs to storefronts. The action-packed gameplay is accompanied by loud engine noises and powerful-sounding weapons. The soundtrack comes with not only original scores but also some licensed tunes including a remix of Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction”. On the technical side, I didn’t encounter any serious issues but I can say Full Auto 2 is not very smooth. The frame rate is relatively stable but it never feels smooth.

I had a blast with Full Auto 2 and it does feature a lot more content than it’s predecessor. It has more vehicles, more weapons, more depth, and the arena matches are certainly welcome. On the other hand, I sometimes felt it was like more of a rehash of the first game. A lot of tracks just feel way too familiar. Regardless, it’s still a fun time. The high speed racing and action-packed gameplay make for a fun and addictive experience. Driving through buildings and off jumps at high speeds as projectiles are zipping past your vehicle while vehicles are exploding in mid-air is always quite the spectacle. I do wish the environments popped a little more because much like the first game, they are lacking a charm, a personality. It just felt like I was driving around Generic Cityland and its outskirts. It might have been better if the developers did away with the Meridian City setting and instead included a more varied roster of environments.

Ultimately, Full Auto 2 is a great sequel and racing game and I would recommend it. It takes what was great about the first game and not only improves some things but also adds more. Some of the issues I had with the first game have been resolved in Full Auto 2 and the developers somehow managed to make it even more action-packed. It’s a shame Pseudo Interactive closed because I think this series had potential. There aren’t many games out there that are quite like these so they still hold up rather well. If you have any interest in combat racing, definitely check out Full Auto 2.

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