Reviewed: June 13, 2006
Released: April 11, 2006
If you loved the Mad Max movies, or played Interstate 76, or Carmageddon and always hoped that someday theyíd make a massive multiplayer online game based in a world where cars do more than just get you around, your day has come. Auto Assault, brought to you by NC Soft, the same people who have done amazing work with such titles as City of Heroes and City of Villians, and Tabula Rasa, is a fast-paced MMO with a focus on vehicular mayhem.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where only the strong have survived, Auto Assault pits three powerful factions against each other, the Humans, the Biomeks, and the Mutants. Choose to play as a member of any of the three factions and start on the road to high-speed killing.
Start the game by choosing one of four servers to play on, then create your character, choosing from three factions, and four character classes in each. Youíll have your typical warrior class, healer, mind powers, and scout. Then you design your avatar and choose the paintjob for the starter vehicle that class is given. Once you name your character and his or her car, youíll jump right into the action.
The tutorial is built into the beginning of the game, quickly and easily introducing the player to the different aspects of gameplay and mechanics, from movement, to aiming and targeting with your weapons, to finding and completing missions. All of these aspects are extremely simple and the way it is presented to you within the game makes it so you never need to open the manual.
Driving around is fun and enjoyable, making travel in this game much more enjoyable than it is in many other MMOís. Youíll even earn some small rewards for doing impressive jumps or stunts with your vehicle, so it encourages you to try to not take the beaten path wherever you go within the rather large world they have created for players to explore.
Combat is extremely fast paced and fun. A lot of times, if youíre attempting to kill one particular enemy, youíll find yourself in a vehicle pursuit across the barren, biohazard-ridden countryside, blasting away at the enemy, while trying to close the gap between the two of you. It definitely takes away some of the monotony that you experience in other MMOís when you just sit and hack and slash away at an opponent until one of you is dead.
Levels are gained at a fast enough rate in the beginning to keep you hooked to try and get to the next one.
A crafting element is implemented in the game, although I did not spend a whole lot of time messing around with it. From what I saw, it seemed like it was a little confusing at first, but I think once you got into it, it would be fairly easy and would allow those who were interested in it the ability to really tweak their vehicles with some customized weapons and armor.
Although all of the combat is done within the vehicle, youíll spend some time outside of your car in towns. This is where youíll get some of your missions and also where you will do the crafting, if you decide thatís what you want to do. You also have access to a locker in towns that will allow you to store items and free up space in your inventory. Unfortunately, at this point, however, there are no combat options while on foot.
Multiplayer groups, called convoys, can be formed, which adds some more fun and excitement to the game. Also, they added a really nice feature that is enabled for convoys, an in-game voice chat. One thing that did disappoint me about the convoy feature, however, is that you canít organize the group by making one personís mission everybodyís mission, so only the person whose mission you are working on knows where to go and who they need to kill.
It is nice, however, to group up with others and use the strengths of all classes to really lay waste. You will even get a killing-spree bonus when you or your convoy kills a bunch of enemies in a row, giving you a bonus to your experience points gained with each kill.
The community for Auto Assault is currently disappointing. I donít know if I just picked the wrong server of the four, or if there just arenít that many people playing yet, but I didnít feel like there were that many people to really interact with, within the game. Every once in a while, youíd run across another couple of people, but for the most part, I felt like I was playing a single-player game.
There are, however, cross-server PvP tournaments that allow you to pit your own character against others in a tournament that is not restricted by what server you picked. I did not participate in any of these tournaments at the time of this review, but that does sound like a feature that would be very enjoyable and would add a level of excitement to the community aspect of the game that I did not get to experience.
There are a wide variety of areas and various terrain types as well as many different NPC enemies in the game that make for constantly changing scenery. NC Soft did a wonderful job of creating the ambiance of a post-apocalyptic world, with the gritty environments and the beat-up looking vehicles.
The weapons effects are varied and exciting, visually, with explosions and colorful blasts from energy weapons arcing all over the place. Plus, the lighting and shading effects are extremely effective. Youíll even notice flashlight beams from infantrymen as they patrol the borders of their shanties and camps. Also, the HUD system is blended very well into the rest of the game, so it adds to the feel, rather than distracting from it.
The sounds are pretty cool in the game, with many different engine sounds and weapon sounds to add flavor and uniqueness to any battle.
Also, the music rocks. It is probably the single most environmentally stimulating addition to the game. There have been many times where I find myself bobbing my head along with the music that is playing while Iím driving cross-country.
Also, they have a unique introductory voice-over narrative after you complete the tutorial section of each faction, which is done by a guy with a pretty cool voice as far as voice-over narratives go.
When it all boils down, Auto Assault is a level-based MMO just like all the others. Even though the missions have some story to them, which adds some interest to them, youíll find that many of the mission objectives are to locate and kill X number of X enemy until you receive X item, so that you can take it back to the guy that gave you the mission in the first place. This, I can just foresee, will get old after a while, just as it has done with all the other MMOís I have played in the past.
When will someone follow the ideas that Will Wright has started and allow their MMO players to create unique content and missions of their own?
With a free month of play that is included with the game and the standard 15-dollar a month fee, the game is definitely worth a shot.
Overall, I felt that the game had a lot of potential to be a good MMO. Though it falls into some of the same pitfalls that many of the others end up falling into as well, there are enough things about it that make it stand out as unique from the others that I would recommend it to someone who is looking for a different kind of MMO. With time, the community will most likely grow and I see the tournament aspect of the game becoming a very large draw for players.
Basically, if youíre into speed and blowing a lot of stuff up, youíll enjoy this game. It also has enough ambiance and an interesting enough story to hold your interest for a while.