Back story alone does not create a gripping experience, its the community that really makes a MMORPG, at present that is still lacking
What if someone took an MMORPG, but instead of having people, or eleves, or tree fairies or whatever, you had cars. Wouldn't that be awesome? It would indeed be my friends, and we are all terribly lucky that NCSoft and NetDevil have joined forces and made this dream come true.
Putting the auto in the assault...
Customize and play...
What grand fun it is, tearing about the planes in your vehicle, fetchingly colored to suit your tastes, and killing various creatures for points. It's post apocalyptic fun for all the family, as three factions vy for control of an earth that's probably not worth having anyway. You see, everything has gone to hell, as tends to happen in post apocalyptic scenarios, and the planet is now populated with various xenophobic factions who wish nothing much but death upon one another. The humans, who remain genetically pure are super keen to preserve the purity of the human genome (remind us of anyone with a funny little mustache?) The mutants, who embrace their mutancy and think they're pretty awesome, and the biomechanical race who have merged technology and humanity to create a new form of life altogether.
Few would argue that the Human female is the hottest, and therefore I began my foray into the Auto Assault universe with a human female character. Not really the best idea, the human starting missions seemed rather lackluster and confusing compared to the other races, though they all help you get the general idea of what you're doing.
Once you've done a few basic missions, which essentially verify your ability to tell left from right, solid object from non solid object, and perhaps a little basic hand eye co-ordination, you're off to the MMORPG part of the game. Which is excellent, especially if you enjoy long drawn out intros where someone with a droning voice tells you things you mostly already knew, and the camera zooms around to show you most of the place you've ended up in.
One of the more interesting parts of playing MMORPG's tends to be the exploration side of things, and the fact that the camera zooms all over the show before you even start kind of kills that buzz a little. Unless you have a three second memory span, in which case it will all be interesting and new. Like the rest of life.
Unfortunately, the environments are rather bland. Yes, I know post apocalyptic worlds aren't generally known for their stunning views and stirring scenery, but come on, give us something. The whole wasteland thing just gets tedious after about 5 minutes, not to mention hard to navigate. Keep an eye on your directional arrow, it may be the only thing that saves you.
There are some parts of the game which have had more attention paid to them than others, such as the settlements where you exit the vehicle and run around for a bit, but it's really not enough. The sun also appears as a flat lemon yellow disc in the sky. I don't know why, but that really irked me. I mean REALLY irked me. You can customize your characters skin color with all the ease of a professional cosmetic air brusher, but for some reason the sun looks like it was designed by a South Park animation team drop out.
Take advantage of the quiet moments to pick up chicks...
There's an awful lot of sand out there...
Having said that, the customizable features of the characters are fun. You can really make your vehicle and your character to suit your own tastes, which in a world of sludge, slime and ruins, is quite refreshing.
The actual game play is variable in terms of quality. Screaming around the landscape shooting at things and taking nosedives off giant cliffs and whatnot is undoubtedly fun. Unfortunately there really aren't too many other people on the servers most of the time it would seem, which means you have to keep all that witty repartee to yourself.
Experience points are really not hard to come by at all. You can get experience just by driving around like a loon and killing various things by running them over by accident. Early on in the game it's almost a sneeze and level up experience, which is nice and encouraging I suppose, but it makes you feel almost like it is all a bit too easy.
The same applies to new bits and bobs to outfit your car with, as well as potions and whatnot. Given the fact that being killed has no other negative impact than a trip back to the last repair point, it's quite fun to get involved in battles you'll never win.
Good attention has been paid to the back story and the personality of the NPC's. This makes most of them come across like crazy zealots, which of course, they are. Later on in the game you get to kill other players, but this is only once you have leveled up and taken on the bizarre beliefs of your faction, one assumes.
There are also a myriad of features which help you in your quest. Crafting for example, and the ability to modify your car completely for various effects. If you do get hopelessly involved with this game, there is plenty of scope to really make it your own.
The wages of death is a cool plane ride...
Quelle ominous green door...
Overall though, Auto Assault seems to lack that special something. Perhaps it's simply sheer player numbers, but there is an intensity lacking to the game play that really fails to engage you fully in the world. Back story alone does not create a gripping experience, its the community that really makes a MMORPG, at present that is still lacking.