When announcements trumpet the debut of a sequel well before the original title has a chance to gain a foothold on the market, a red flag should go up. Pumping out titles with minimal development time is problematic; developers probably aren’t pleased with their results and we suffer through an end product lacking promised features and polished. Full Auto 2: Battlelines is case-in-point for such a strategy, announced shortly after the release of its predecessor on Xbox 360. Even though most of the game has been transplanted from first game, Full Auto 2: Battlelines is marginally enjoyable; however, a number of issues make is very clear that the game was rushed out the door in hopes of catching stray dollars from eager PlayStation 3 launch patrons.
In Full Auto 2: Battlelines, you’ll play as an unnamed driver recruited into the battle over Meridian City. Beckoned by a sentient computer known as SAGE, you’ll confront a group of combat racers known as the Ascendants. Career mode has you taking on Ascendant forces district by district in a variety of events that blend racing and combat. Each event possesses primary objectives that must be completed in order to capture the territory, as well as secondary objectives that go toward unlocking new vehicles, weapons, and other rewards. Primary objectives usually ask you to finish a race in first place or destroy a key opponent within a specified time limit. More challenging are secondary objectives that demand extra kills during an arena event or to finish a race under a certain time.
Before each event, you’ll be prompted to select a vehicle and outfit it with primary and secondary weapons fired with the X and circle buttons, respectively. You can direct the firing reticle using the right analog stick, but given that you have to use your right thumb to fire your weapons, it’s pretty difficult trying to position the reticle while playing. In fact, it’s difficult to maneuver much of anything in the game. Vehicle handling in Full Auto 2: Battlelines is cumbersome. R2 and L2 serve to accelerate and decelerate your vehicle, while the left analog stick controls your direction. Straight sections are easily handled, but turns can be problematic since vehicles have no drift whatsoever. Navigating tight corners basically requires slamming on the brakes and hoping you can accelerate fast enough to not get overtaken by the competition. Clearly, more effort was placed in developing combat elements than in tuning vehicle handling.
Pressing R1 allows you to “unwreck” your vehicle, which essentially equates to rewinding gameplay. Unwrecking enables you to back up from a mistake such as unintentionally driving into a wall or being nailed by an enemy. Unfortunately, the mechanic doesn’t work for two reasons. First, unwrecking never plays an integral role in the game. You’re never required to use the feature when playing through career mode and it’s not available in multiplayer; as a result, the feature feels more like a novelty than a core element of gameplay. The other reason why unwrecking doesn’t work is that it doesn’t provide enough time to actually avoid the mistake you’re rewinding from. If you were to over-steer through a corner and smash into a wall, for example, unwrecking your car would only take you a second or two back in time; you’re likely to make the same mistake again because you wouldn’t have enough time to act any differently. Compound the lack of time with control issues and unwrecking your vehicle is simply a waste of time.
Up to eight players can join up for races or arena events online. Too bad you won’t be able to find many people to play with. Ranked matches require at least four players to start, which is a considerable problem since there are so few players venturing online. It isn’t uncommon to sit for several minutes waiting for other players to join a ranked match that never starts. Unranked matches only require two players to start, but without anyway of communicating with other players online, you can’t suggest playing an unranked match. Chat lobbies are completely absent, which not only prevents discussion of game settings but also of organizing an unranked match if there aren’t enough players for a ranked match. When you can get enough players, online matches are incredibly fun; in fact, Full Auto 2: Battlelines is perfectly suited for multiplayer actionâ€”it just needs more of a community.
Peppered with moments of intensity and excitement, Full Auto 2: Battlelines is enjoyable; however, considerable flaws make it clear that it was rushed out the door. There’s no denying the impressive visual quality of the game — until the framerate drops and those highly polished textures stop looking good moving at 10 frames per second. Of course presentation problems are nothing compared to issues with sloppy controls and barebones multiplayer features. You’re probably better off waiting for the release of Full Auto 2: Battlelines on PlayStation Portable in March with the hope that the deficiencies in controls and multiplayer are solved.
— Tracy Erickson
- Overall 6.5
- Full Auto 2: Battlelines might be battling for your gaming dollars, but it’s in your best interest to draw a line in the sand. Say no to a wealth of issues with the presentation and controls, as well as a distinct lack of basic multiplayer features. While the game is enjoyable at times, it’s really too difficult to justify the cost.