Full Auto 2: Battlelines Hands-On
The auto-battling mania of Full Auto 2 is coming to a PSP near you. We take it out for spin in our hands-on look.
Boil it down to its most simple ingredients, and Full Auto 2: Battlelines for the PlayStation Portable comes down to two things: cars and guns. Though the handheld game continues the same driving-and-shooting approach found in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, it's not a direct port; rather it's being developed by the folks at Deep Fried from the ground up. Many of the developers behind the game have previous experience in racing franchises such as EA's Need for Speed series, and that know-how is beginning to peek through the early build of the game we recently played.
You'll spend the majority of your time in Full Auto 2 turning laps at ludicrous speeds while blasting away at everything in sight--and the PSP version of the game will have new content not found on the PlayStation 3 version of the game, including 10 new weapons and 10 new cars. Weapons are classified as either light, medium, or heavy; weapons you'll be able to choose from include the M203 launcher, the fire and forget missile, and the M60 machine gun. Before a race event begins, you'll have more options for placing your weapons than in the PS3 version of Full Auto 2. In that game, you could mount a weapon only in the front or rear of the car; in Full Auto 2 for the PSP, you'll be able to place weapons on the sides of your car as well. That won't be your only choice for customization, however. You'll be able to choose from multiple paint jobs, as well as unlock more than 100 skins that you can apply to your rides.
The heart of Full Auto 2's single-player game will be its career mode, which will comprise more than 50 missions. The career mode is set up in a nonlinear fashion, so after completing a mission, you'll have multiple choices of where you head next. The career mode will have you rolling through missions across three major locales: Asia, North America, and Europe. Missions will be spread across a number of different event types, including point-to-point and circuit races. Multiplayer matches will be available for up to four players via ad hoc wireless connection and will include game modes such as head-on, down and back, and arena deathmatch. Full Auto 2 for the PSP will also support game sharing.
One of the key elements of Full Auto 2's gameplay is the destructible environments. As you turn laps in a circuit race, for example, you'll see a target meter onscreen. Whenever the target turns yellow, it indicates an area that can be destroyed with your weapons. Take out the column of a bridge, for example, and you'll create an obstacle for your opponents to deal with, or you'll open up a new route through the track. Any destroyed object hangs around on the track so that on the next lap, that mangled portion of the bridge will still be there for you (and your foes) to contend with. In addition, it will usually take a couple of laps to destroy the bigger structures in the game, with the debris piling up with each successive lap.
Though they haven't been fully finalized, the controls in Full Auto 2 are simple and straightforward. The X button is used for gas, the square is for brakes. The right trigger fires your primary weapon, and the left trigger is used for the secondary weapon. When you come upon a destructible environment, you can use the circle button to zoom in and get a better look at what you're shooting at. One big question remains--how the unwreck functionality will work in the game. Though producers told us the reverse-time feature, which lets you rewind and replay a tricky part of the track, will be in the game, they haven't decided exactly how it will control yet.
The graphics in Full Auto 2 weren't fully optimized in the version we played, and the most obvious aspect that needed work was the frame rate. Assuming that gets fixed up, there's plenty to appreciate in Full Auto 2's visuals, including a nice variety of detail in the backgrounds (assuming you pay attention to that kind of thing amid all the explosions and gunfire), and nicely detailed cars that look fast and menacing. The game's soundtrack, in addition to the sounds of wrecking cars and blasting weapons, features some top-notch talent on the musical side of things; expect to hear tunes from Wolfmother, Sum 41, We Are Scientists, and Megadeth (who seem to be all over video game soundtracks these days).
There are still a few months to go before Full Auto 2 launches on PSPs. While the development team still has a few issues to work out--including implementing a new menu system, finalizing the control scheme, and working a bit on the graphics--Full Auto 2 should be raring to go when it hits store shelves in March. Expect to see our full review of the game then.
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