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First Look: Auto Assault




Auto Assault is Mad-Max-meets-Everquest: a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) where you explore a post-apocalyptic world not by foot, but by driving a whole host of customized cars, bikes and big-ass Semis. Oh, and tanks - did I mention tanks? Choose one of three Races: Humans, Mutants or Biomeks and zoom around at high speed "using tricked out vehicles as their primary weapons" says the press release.



Expect lots of Carmageddon-style roadkill, but players are not merely limited to the primitive hit & run: there's bumper-mounted machine guns, roof mounted rocket launchers and mini guns - there's even a truck for all the wannabe Dr Evil's out there... that's right baby: frickin LASERS!



Of course, all that firepower wouldn't be much good without stuff to shoot, right? Auto Assault features a highly destructible gameworld where the developers say you can destroy everything that moves... and most things that don't!



And that destruction promised to be a sight to behold, as powering all the polygon mayhem is the hugely realistic Havok 2 physics engine. If you don't recognise the name, you may well recognise some recent games that have used Havok-based physics: Half Life 2, Painkiller, Max Payne 2 - the list goes on. In the context of Auto Assault, this means that zombies will fly off your bumper using Ragdoll physics, vehicles can use ramps to jump gorges and debris will react to the environment realistically.



Have you been reluctant to try an MMOG because you think it is all wizards, spells and collecting Experience? I know I have, which is why I think Auto Assault could change certain perceptions about MMOGs: the developers NetDevil, based in Denver, Colorado, have addressed what you might call some of the "boring" aspects of traditional MMOG gameplay to give you more action, more of the time.

Gone are the heavy death penalties: you'll never lose hours or days of progress just because you got killed during a mission. Roadmaps and a "Subdimensional Waypoint" system reduces travel times, getting you to the front line quicker. The unique mission system means that you level up while playing, rather than playing merely to boost your character to the next level.



The game is currently in Beta, with hundreds of testers carving up the landscape on the test servers. We've been promised a sneak peek Hands On very soon and we'll bring thoughts on the gameplay shortly thereafter.

Auto Assault will be published by MMO specialists NCSoft later this year.

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