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PSP  header logo

Full Auto 2: Battlelines

For: PSP

Steer clear?

Product: Full Auto 2: Battlelines | Developer: Deep Fried Entertainment | Publisher: Sega | Format: PSP | Genre: Racing, Shooter | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
 
by Ed Fear
Full Auto 2: Battlelines PSP, thumbnail 1
As bubblegum pop psychology has been telling us ever since the 1980s, men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Rather than an exposé on fumbling tentacles and boggle-eyes on stalks, this is a message on the supposedly vast mental chasm that separates the sexes: sometimes, men and women need an interpreter to communicate.

Cliché also supports the theory with countless generalisations: men like football and violent action films, for instance, whereas women like shopping and sloppy romantic comedies. Of course, those clichés are not true: the chasm lies not between the sexes, but between individuals. That's what we thought, anyway, until Full Auto 2: Battlelines reared its head.

Now we've no choice but to stand tall and admit it. We're men: we can't do more than one thing at once.

First, a little background. If you're wondering whether you missed out on a previous instalment, you didn't: Full Auto 2 is the first in the series to hit the PSP. Taking its stylistic cue from the brash arcade action of crash-happy racer Burnout, Full Auto 2 focuses itself less on racing and more on out-and-out destruction.

Unfortunately though, that's where the similarities end: rather than also copying Burnout's careful balance, Sega's effort tries to juggle so many balls (including adding weapons to the dangerous driving mix) that it ends up dropping them all.

The game is divided into around 50 challenges, spread across the geographically distinct regions of America, Asia and Europe, each of which is a race with certain victory conditions. Things start off simple enough, with requirements that rarely stretch further than to not finish last, but quickly – very quickly – the challenge heats up.

The main problem (and here's where our seemingly irrelevant opening comes into play) is that the game simply demands far too much from the player. Sometimes you'll be tasked to destroy, say, 60 of the pieces of breakable 'furniture' that litter all the courses – postboxes, roadside stalls, cardboard boxes, that sort of thing. At other times you'll be expected to trigger a certain number of 'special events', parts of the track that can be destroyed with your weapons to cause hazards to your fellow racers and create new routes.

Both of these individual elements are enjoyable (and achievable) enough on their own, but the game is reticent to ever let you enjoy them in isolation. See, most of the time it'll ask you to do both of the previously mentioned targets, and then to finish in third place or better. Oh, and if that wasn't enough of a challenge, you've only got one lap to do it in.

If that sounds unfeasible, then you're thinking along the right track. The problem is that each discrete objective requires a different way of playing, be it ploughing along the pavements and open areas to smash as much scenery as possible or attempting to race as best as you can for a good finishing position – and attempting to do these at the same time results in a car that flips around like a schizophrenic fish out of water.

Ah yes, the cars. Initially limited to a paltry three, a further range can be unlocked by winning challenges. Whether or not you'll actually get to see any, though, is a different matter: the game seems strangely happy to keep them locked until much further into the game, and when you're still getting decals as rewards after your eighth or ninth victory you'd be forgiven for looking elseqhere for your UMD-based thrills.

Similarly measly is the selection of weaponry on offer: mines, mini-rockets and machine guns, of which two can be taken into any race. Alas, the mini-rockets rarely hit their target, the machine guns do little damage, and you can't even see if your mines manage to destroy anything because, well, their very nature means you drop them behind you.

If there's one thing we can praise Full Auto 2 for, though, it's the innovative ability (for this genre) to reverse time after a crash, handy for getting yourself out of fatal scrapes. Sadly, it's not enough to lift the title from its doomed mediocrity though, especially when countered with the basic visuals and dreadful music (sorry, Sum 41 fans).

If you're a die-hard battle-racing game fan then you might be able to squeeze some enjoyment out of this, especially if you have the ability to play against three other owners via ad hoc, but for the rest of us there's only so many times you can fail at something seemingly unattainable without just giving up.

We're not ashamed to admit it's just far, far too difficult. For those able to play the game to its conclusion: congratulations! You're a better woman than we'll ever be.
 
Full Auto 2: Battlelines
Reviewer photo
Ed Fear | 3 April 2007
A few nice touches can't hide the fact that this is a mash-up of several incompatible ideas
 
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