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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Assault upon the Senses

"Do you know this game really isn't very good?"
Not the kind of question one would expect to have directed at themselves from a member of the sales staff at a games shop. Exactly the question I was asked when purchasing Auto Assault. The query really ought to have set off alarm bells in my mind, but I carried on regardless and was soon the proud owner of NC Soft's latest MMO. Proud, but stupid. And soon not to be proud at all.
I can't quite put my finger on what it is that makes Auto Assault so poor, but I'm certain that it is a veritable oilslick of a game. Perhaps I'm so disappointed because I was so very excited about Auto Assault when the first batch of previews were released more than a year ago. A 'Mad Max' MMO - what's not to like? Well, an awful lot unfortunately.
Considering my lack of finger placing ability for this game, I'll try to do my best at fisting. The game is laggy, a terrible hellish lag fest even in the most barren of player populated areas. 'Player populated areas' is somewhat of a misnomer; the hub 'cities' are an accurate depiction of a post-apocalyptic world : void of life. In an effort to combat the lack of players issue, NC Soft have converged all existing servers into one central server, hosting players from all over the world under one roof. The population levels remain dire, and the lag problems have worsened. As far as gameplay goes, it's all very simple and not much fun. Put some guns on your car, find the baddies and hold down fire until they are all explode. Repeat. The explosions themselves are very impressive, as is the level of damage and destruction a player is able to wreak upon their environment. There is nothing new to be found here though - blowing stuff up has always been fun and remains so, but soon looses it's appeal when not backed up with purpose or a sense of achievement. In contrast to the combat, the crafting system is complex and (although I never reached this stage) I can imagine that with patience and persistence, a player could find reward in gathering junk from the carnage of the battlefield and modifying it into enviable items of worth. Unfortunately I doubt many will possess the staying power required to keep coming back to Auto Assault, and with so many better alternatives out there, why bother?

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