We had a chance to sit down with the fast-paced massively multiplayer car combat game Auto Assault from publisher NCSoft and developer NetDevil at E3 2005. The game seems to be coming along extremely well and runs at a blazingly fast frame rate. We watched a human player in a small armored four-wheel car tear across the desert landscape of the Steel Fields area on one of the game's many, many missions--this time to seek out and destroy a base held by the cyborglike biomek race. We watched as the car carelessly tore down the freeway, blasting everything in its path (other cars, pedestrians, highway dividers and signs, and even buildings) and reducing everything to rubble. As we approached the biomek base, we watched as the environment changed to an industrial-themed area with heavy machinery enclosed in chain-link fences. Once we encountered a biomek combat vehicle on the road, we knew we were getting close (but Auto Assault will also feature multiple pointers to keep you on track, including a floating navigation arrow at the top of the screen and a minimap with specific markers).
To destroy the biomek base, we had to resort to our vehicle's "hazard mode," the most powerful attack that any vehicle can perform. In the case of human vehicles, hazard mode ties in to the humans' research into energy shield technology. Since Auto Assault takes place on a futuristic version of Earth that has been torn apart by alien invasions and unhealthy amounts of radiation, the human race (one of three playable races in the game, the other two being mutants and biomeks) has equipped each of its vehicles with energy shields that can be "reversed" in hazard mode, which causes the shields to erupt into highly damaging ion streams--coils of bright-purple energy that latch onto any nearby enemies and damage them severely.
Auto Assault continues to look like a very promising, very accessible game that should hopefully turn out well. The game's beta-testing phase has just barely begun and will expand later this summer. We'll have more details on the game as we near its release later this year.