Like most MMORPGs you start the game by creating your character. In Auto Assault you have the choice of one of the three races (humans, biomek, and mutant)as well as one of four classes. The classes are slight tweaks on your standard MMORPG classes as you have a support class (healer), frontline combat (tank), command (summon/control pets), and special ops class (ranged combat/stealth).
These classes start out with a different level of the games four character attributes: Combat, Technology, Theory, and Perception. Combat measures how accurate you are with your weapons and how well you drive your vehicle. Technology determines your hit points as well as a boost in how much heat your weapons can produce before shutting down. Theory governs how much energy (mana) you have while Perception controls your defensive skill and chance to get a critical hit.
Once you have selected your race and class you get to customize your in-game avatar. There are plenty of options to customize your character and while it’s not as deep as the system in City of Heroes it certainly gets the job done. The next step is to customize your starter vehicle. There aren’t a lot of options to begin with as you only get to set the paint pattern, the two colors of your vehicle, the name, and wheel covers on the vehicle. While these options may seem limited you will pick up more options as you progress through the game.
Each race has its own tutorial level that immediately helps set the tone and background for that particular race. For instance the human race starts with you leaving the underground bunkers where the humans have been hiding since they nuked the world. While the mutants and biomeks have tutorials that help establish their look and culture. It’s a nice touch and really adds to the flavor to the game.
The controls in Auto Assault standard fair.. You have your WASD controls for moving your car through the world with left mouse button interacts with the world/selecting targets and the right mouse button firing your weapons. Some of the other main key you’ll use when exploring the world is the B button which bounces your vehicle in case you get stuck in an awkward positing or for helping to elevate your jumps (more on that in a minute). The rest of the controls are what you would expect from any MMORPG. I shows your cargo and current car hard points with the K button show your skills, the number keys 1-0 activate the skill assigned to them or use an object in inventory that you’ve assigned to it. The J key brings up your journal of missions. and the M key brings up the map of the world. There are other keys in the games but these are the ones that I used the most.
Aiming your weapons is done very well as there are two good ways to deal death and destruction. The user interface shows the arcs of the weapons currently equipped in your car. Each car has three main weapon hard points, the front and rear which are fixed and a turret which can be used to kill anything in a radius around your car. With the turret weapon you can either click on a particular target and have the turret track one particular target(helpful for fighting tougher opponents or bosses) or you can simply rotate the arc around the car and it will fire on anything that enters the arc (best suited for taking out clumps of infantry). It’s a nice system and allows for some flexibility when you are engaging in combat.
The Bounce button is probably one of the most entertaining buttons in the game as it looks like it started off as a way to dislodge your vehicle when it gets stuck in a crevice or up against a rock formation but what I really use it for was for getting that extra little bit of air when ramping my vehicle off the ramps and cliffs in the game. Since your vehicle doesn’t take falling damage the game practically begs you to perform sweet “Dukes of Hazzard” style jumps all through out the game. These are actually encouraged as the folks at Net Devil have left small jump ramps scattered though out the game. The only thing that would make this better would be if you could map a WAV file of the General Lee’s horn to a button for every time you had to jump a giant ravine. It should be noted that your roommates/live in significant others will give you the odd look every time you yell “yeee….HAAAAH” while performing these jumps. Just a little FYI from me to you.
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