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Auto Assault

If it was NetDevil's intention with its post-apocalyptic vehicular MMORPG to create an experience that didn't feel remotely like an RPG, then it already looks like it's succeeded. As online worlds go, Auto Assault is an astonishingly dynamic, fast-paced, physical experience.

The deep scoops, ramps and rubble mountains of its desolate landscape make the best of a superb, gently exaggerated physics engine that allows buildings to be (temporarily) brought down, and players to bump into and scramble over each other. The vehicle handling, despite being shackled to WASD keys, is also excellent, mustering both heft and bounce, responsiveness and momentum.

Although items and class-specific skills do come into play, combat is as much about control and timing as anything else: left-click to select a target, line it up in your on-screen firing arcs and right-click to fire all weapons - but keep moving at all costs.

Including an experience-point multiplier for quick successive kills - explicitly splicing classical arcade mechanics with the very building blocks of the RPG, encouraging bloody runs through forests of infantry - is a stroke of brilliant, brazen cheek. After playing Auto Assault, a traditional MMO space can feel static and staid.

And it's just as well, because one of the chief reasons for playing an MMO is to spend time in a place you want to be, and it's hard to imagine many people wanting to be in the Central Wastelands. This is a world utterly unrelieved by beauty or inspiration, a half-hearted cliche rendered in filthy greys and reds and sickly radioactive green. There's only so much ugliness the scenario can excuse.

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