E3 06: Full Auto 2: Battlelines - hands-on

The PS3's first car-combat game is coming this fall, and Full Auto 2: Battlelines already looks like a marked improvement over its repetitive Xbox 360 predecessor. Sega's still keeping the single-player portion under wraps, but we've spent some time tearing around one of the eight-player deathmatch arenas, and it's explosive stuff.

Taking the focus off racing, Full Auto 2 let us pick from four cars - two muscle cars, a sleek (but extremely light) sports car and an SUV that carries extra armor and can ram things - and then pick out two different weapons from a selection of 21 different missile launchers, machine-guns and mine-tossers. After that, we were turned loose in a brilliantly detailed city block, which we proceeded to take apart while trying to blast our opponents with missiles.

At first, the action seems like any other car-combat game - race around, blast the other drivers and drop mines whenever the helpful radar map shows you that someone's on your tail. But Full Auto 2 has a few things that help it stand out, including a multilevel, superfast turbo boost that throws up blur lines around the car and sent us crashing straight into a wall.

There are office buildings to crash through, all kinds of power-ups (including powerful, temporary third weapons) just lying around and buses and big rigs that suddenly burst in through the force-shields bordering the stage. The new title also takes selective advantage of the PS3's impressive rendering abilities, by which we mean that the cars didn't look too special, but the environment looks awesome. Even cooler is the way the game world is reflected in your car's rear window, and the way said window cracks and shatters as your car's ass gets riddled with bullets.

Of course, the real visual draw of a game like this is in huge, spectacular crashes, and Full Auto 2 delivers one every few seconds; every time we got killed, our ride pistoned into the air in slow motion with flames shooting out the windows. And while we haven't yet seen any of the massive, game-altering destruction that the final game promises to pack in, the smashed-open buildings and smoldering wreckage of our opponents left us hopeful. If nothing else, the multiplayer action was a lot of fun, so we're looking forward to seeing what else Full Auto 2 will have to offer.

To see for yourself what we're talking about, hit the Movies tab above.

May 11, 2006