MMOs are popping up like randy midgets at the moment, and 97% of the world's population are playing between five and 30 games at the same time in monitor-filled Polyplay booths. So when another epic clock-scoffer bursts out, it really needs a convincing hook.
Auto Assault, NetDevil's Mad Max take on the genre, has something unique: speed. The car battles have you skidding around, blowing up buildings, fatally running people over and using up to four weapons and numerous skills at once. It's no Lazy Susan in character growth, either; initial levelling is good and fast.
Combat is definitely where it's at though. Between your turret weapon, fixed front gun, rear and melee weapons, there's plenty of upgrading going on. And death brings no penalty, so you can have a frisky pop at anything. The arcade style of fighting works
surprisingly well with the more traditional RPG diceplay.
The world is huge, but it's uniformly bleak and unthrilling. The 'fetch-kill-thanks' approach to missions does get repetitive, but there's good PvP combat, which should take off as the servers slowly fill up.
A small niggle - Auto Assault seems to finish every mission with: "Jeff Patella looks at you with a new sense of respect. He says that perhaps you are the one." Yeah, Jeff. You say that to everyone. Just give me the turret cannon and go back to your wife. Tch.
As well as arcade-style combat, Auto Assault has some of the austere faff of old-school RPGs. Making quality components by combining damaged ones harks back to Diablo II, and the crafting of items from others is intriguingly complicated far beyond Oblivion's Alchemy. If you're like me, you'll get a nice sensation when you realise you're one component short of a new mudflap.
The fundamental problem is that it all feels a little detached - for an MMO, solo play feels far more natural, as the speed turns most of the battles into one-on-ones dotted around the map. It's a great, unbeautiful game you can dip into or play for hours, but whether you want to pay the subscription is a matter for you and Ben Cooper, independent financial advisor.
Should get better
- The salty burst of combat
- The sweet tang of complexity
- That indefinable umami of satisfaction
- Slow subscriber uptake
- Repetitive missions