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Full Auto 2: Battlelines
Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Pseudo Interactive
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2 (Online: 2 - 8)
Genre: Racing (Arcade)/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:
Brilliant graphics greet you in this sequel to Full Auto, a game that seems very much like Burnout meets Twisted Metal. The vehicles are various flavors of cars and trucks, but the high amount of destruction possible in this game pretty much guaranteed that the cars would not be licensed; car manufacturers typically frown on depictions of their vehicles being smashed up and blown into little bits. Pity, that.

The visuals themselves are very nice, being enhanced that much more by the fact that the models are almost all destructible to some degree. Most buildings have at least an outer-most shell that can be smashed into and knocked down. This allows you to literally "cut corners" as your race around the town. Some buildings with glass plazas and such can be driven straight through, while still other buildings and constructs in various playing fields have certain columns or other supporting structures that can be taken out, causing the massive structures to fall, possibly taking out enemies and hopefully not flattening your vehicle. These destructive environments are not only cool, but make the levels interactive and dynamic - both are a nice touch.

Occasionally, I did notice some pop-in issues, where pieces of the environment would suddenly appear, but this wasn't too bad - just an infrequent distraction.

Full Auto 2: Battlelines's sound effects do what they're supposed to do, providing audible cues to reinforce that you just shot your weapons, smacked into a wall, etc. There are no sound effects that I noticed to be missing, poorly timed or poorly fitting, and as such, they sort of sat in the background as sound effects should, enhancing the gameplay without really making themselves noticed too much.

The music in Full Auto 2: Battlelines is licensed music, including: "30/30-150" by Stone Sour, "Analog" by Strung Out, "Callbacks" by We Are Scientists, "Take It Away" by The Used, "Colossal" by Wolfmother, "The Hardest Part" by Stretch Arm Strong, "No Reason" by Deryck Whibley and Greig Nori, "Symphony Of Destruction (The Gristle Mix)" by Megadeth, "Slow Drain" by Dennis Wolfe, "Carry Me Home" by Chris Cheney, Scott Own and Travis Demsey and "Crash" by Tommy Lee and performed by Methods of Mayhem.

Full Auto 2: Battlelines offers a few different modes of gameplay: Career Mode, Arcade Mode, Head-to-Head Mode and Online Mode.

In Career Mode, you play the part of a driver who has been selected by a law enforcement A.I. program to act as her champion and to infiltrate and take out the gangs of military-class armed vehicular combatants who have taken over the city. The A.I. has a female voice and briefs you before each mission and makes comments at the end of each mission based on your performance. This is an interesting feature, which adds a bit of comic value (especially when you do poorly) and helps to advance a coherent storyline.

Arcade mode is a "jump in and play" mode, but you are limited to vehicles and weapons that are available from the beginning or that you have unlocked in Career mode. There are three types of games that you can choose from in Arcade Mode: Race, Gladiator and Team Gladiator. Race is just that, a race with vehicular combat, with every car for themselves. Gladiator is also every car for themselves, but there is no racing element. This is an arena event where the goal is to destroy other vehicles while trying to avoid being destroyed yourself. This is basically a demolition derby with military weapons, a la Twisted Metal. Team Gladiator is just like the Gladiator game, but you are part of a team. You want to destroy vehicles on the opposing team while protecting yourself and your teammates. The advantage of Team Gladiator is that occasionally members of your team will help you out.

Head-to-Head mode allows you to play Full Auto 2: Battlelines with a friend sitting next to you. This is a split-screen game, where one player is on top and the other is on bottom, which makes it harder to tell what's going on, however. Other than the fact that you only have half of the screen to work with for each player, this is pretty much the same as a one-player Arcade mode game. The only other difference is that the "Unwreck" feature is not available for any game where there is more than one person playing.

The remaining mode in Full Auto 2: Battlelines is Online mode. There are a variety of types of games available for online play, and you can choose to play a Ranked game or an Unranked game, but I found that in my several attempts to play online, there were never more than three games running simultaneously. This means that it will be hard to choose the type of game you want to play, at least until the game's popularity (and/or number of PS3's in homes) increases. You can, of course, choose to host your own game, but you may find yourself simply sitting there waiting for someone else to be interested in joining your game. Online play was fun, but I wouldn't suggest buying Full Auto 2: Battlelines specifically for the online play unless you have several friends who also have the game and you plan to arrange times to play online with them.

Career mode has three levels of difficulty, and you can choose from three A.I. difficulty levels in games with A.I. controlled players. Obviously, the difficulty in Head-to-Head and Online mode games will be heavily affected by the skill of your opponents.

That being said, there is a lot to be leveraged in the proper use of your vehicle and weapons. Each vehicle has its own stats, some being faster than others and some being able to take more damage before they are destroyed, as examples. Finding a combination of vehicles and weapons that you feel comfortable with and are effective with can help to stack things in your favor. Career mode is a good place to practice with different combinations and is the only place to unlock new vehicles and weapons. Once the vehicles and weapons you want are available, you can play Arcade mode to select the areas you want to play in and the type of event you want to practice.

In the end, it is going to be practice, practice and more practice that increases your skill, but it's a good idea to see what fits your style of play before engaging others online. Be warned, however, that Online games may specify what vehicles and weapons can be used, so you might not be able to select exactly what you want to use for Online games.

Game Mechanics:
One of the more unique features of Full Auto 2: Battlelines is the "Unwreck" feature. This visually looks like you're rewinding a VHS tape, with the added stylistic treatment of being black and white and grainy video. This feature is available in all one-player games and can allow you to "fix" little mistakes you make as you play, rather than having to start the event over again. Be wary of growing too dependant on this feature, however, if you plan to play against other people in Head-to-Head or Online modes; this feature is not available when playing against others.

The Gladiator games in Full Auto 2: Battlelines are definitely heavily influenced by the Twisted Metal series, but I found that the controls were less intuitive or somehow more clunky than in the Twisted Metal series, leading to more frustration. This may be partially due to the fact that in Twisted Metal games, the cars had predetermined weapons and in Full Auto 2: Battlelines, you select your vehicle separately from selecting your weapons. This means that each combination you try will have its own unique characteristics which will affect both game balance and how well your particular style of gameplay will work. Any time you change vehicles or weapons (or even encounter different enemies), you may need to adjust your strategies.

In the end, possibly the most fun I had in Full Auto 2: Battlelines was in the Online mode's games, but as I stated earlier, there's not a lot of games to choose from at any given time. If you have friends with Full Auto 2: Battlelines or if you're all picking it up at the same time to play the Online mode, then I say go for it. If you're really into online play and you're not dead-set on picking up Full Auto 2: Battlelines after reading this review, I would have to suggest renting it first. At any given point in time, the number of people playing Full Auto 2: Battlelines online could increase to a reasonable amount, but as of this writing, no.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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