Review: Full Auto 2: Battlelines

Full Auto 2: Battlelines (PS3)Platform: PS3
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Pseudo Interactive
Release Date: 12/07/06
Genre: Combat Racing
Players: 1-8

Despite some untapped potential and contrary to the unenthusiastic response it recieved from much of the mainstream press, I found the original Full Auto to be quite an entertaining ride and one of the few early 360 titles that caught and held my attention. It wasn’t perfect, nor was it anything truly “next-gen”, but it was a hell of a lot of fun, and in the early goings of the 360’s life that’s all that mattered to me. Now the sequel, Full Auto 2: Battlelines, has exploded onto the PS3 too the same effect, outclassing its predecessor in nearly every way possible in the process.

Upon being first announced, Full Auto almost immediately became dubbed “Burnout with guns” around the industry, and fair or not that’s basically what it was – a fast, action-packed racing game with high-powered weaponry tossed in to heighten the mayhem. While the core mechanics have not changed – the arcadey car handling and physics, life-saving unwreck feature, and incredible environmental destruction are all back in full force — Full Auto 2 fuses racing and vehicular combat far beyond what was seen in the first game, and the resulting experience is even more fun and invigorating.

Full Auto 2’s single-player career flows in similar fashion to before, taking you over a long stretch of events each containing a series of vehicular competitions to survive, all in order to save Meridian City from the clutches of the Ascendants. An actual storyline has been tacked on this time around, but none of it is worth paying attention to. Whereas the original Full Auto’s events revolved around different racing events, Full Auto 2 shifts to a greater focus on combat. Racing events are still present, but there is always an objective to complete in addition to crossing the finish line first, such as eliminating a certain number of opposing racers, taking down a rival, or protecting an ally from automotive doom. Alongside the racing, new arena battles have been introduced, dishing out some true deathmatch-style car combat — ala Twisted Metal — that celebrates the game’s destructive ambitions the way it never was before.

Environmental destruction matters much more in Full Auto 2 as well, it’s not just eye-candy the way it mostly was in the first game. Every track and arena has numerous set pieces that are potential roadside traps that, when destroyed, can be used to take out enemy racers hot on your fender, such as overhanging shipping crates, signs, stacks of pylons along the road, parked cars and trucks and even entire buildings. Destroying the environment also alters the traveling route as laps go by, even opening up hidden shortcuts.

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To go with the higher emphasis on combat, Pseudo Interactive has completely revamped the weapon system from Full Auto. Instead of being tied into pre-determined weapon sets like before, Full Auto 2 lets you individually choose the pair of weapons you take into action, though you can’t simply slap the two most powerful weapons onto any given vehicle, as each car has different weapon capacity limits. New, more extravagant weapons have been added as well, such as laser beams, homing missiles and flamethrowers, in addition to the return of machine guns, shotguns, cannons, grenades, mines and smoke trails. Beyond choosing weapons, car customization has received more focus in other areas as well. By completing primary and optional secondary objectives in an event, special reward packs can be earned to unlock tons of car skins (new cars and weapons can be unlocked this way too).

With the first Full Auto under its belt and the power of the PS3 at its disposal, Pseudo was also able to doctor up Full Auto 2’s appearance over the 360 original. Although it doesn’t look astoundingly different, Full Auto 2’s graphics are slightly sharper, the effects and explosions are more dazzling, the sense of speed is noticeably quicker, and the framerate has been locked down a bit better. A few hints of slowdown still creep up from time to time unfortunately, and in the pre-race buildup there is some unsightly texture load-in, but thankfully these glitches are minimal. As for the audio, I can’t say that anything left a lasting impression on me, but the music, vehicle sounds and explosions all serve their purpose well.

The only area Full Auto 2 still needs to prove itself in is the multiplayer. Both two-player split-screen and online play for up to eight players are supported, with five multiplayer modes to play in, including Race, Cat & Mouse, Gladiator, Team Gladiator and Base Assault. In the case of the online play though, there just aren’t that many people playing and finding a match is virtually impossible, which is a shame because the multiplayer runs smoothly and is a lot of fun when you can actually get into it. I’ve been playing the game for months now and have only been able to find a couple of matches total in all that time, and even in those instances the matches were only able to meet the minimum four-player starting requirement – I haven’t been able to get a full 8-player match going at all. Online activity seems to have picked up here recently, and as the PS3 gets into more homes I’m sure that trend will continue, but as of now you shouldn’t expect a bustling online environment. It’s also a bummer that no form of voice or text communication is supported either.

Full Auto 2 doesn’t make any monumental leaps forward over the original game and the online play is still a work in progress, but overall it does make improvements where improvements needed to be made like any good sequel should, and the result is a much more solid and complete gameplay experience. The PS3’s software lineup is still pretty thin at this point, but Full Auto 2’s brand of fast-paced and explosive car combat puts it as one of the system’s highlight offerings thus far.

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!