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MMORPG.com Get's Hands-On With Auto Assault

Andrew Cranston takes a look at the nuts and bolts of the NCSoft MMO due out this week

With the recent and continuing success of driving simulator games (such as Gran Turismo and Need For Speed) and other games that involve driving as part of the gameplay (such as Grand Theft Auto), it seemed inevitable that we would soon see an MMORPG with driving as its signature. Auto Assault, created by NCSoft and NetDevil, delivers just that.

Auto Assault combines many gameplay elements that have never been seen before in an MMORPG with a host of familiar features. The combination is user-friendly, straight forward, and entertaining.

Auto Assault is based on a post-apocalyptic world that has been divided into three races: Humans, who are generally responsible for this apocalypse, Mutants, who have been transformed as a result of the apocalypse and have come together to help “transform the planet”, and Biomek, a group of humans who have embraced biotechnology and cybernetics to survive the unforgiving landscape. Each of these three races starts the game on their own part of the map, and each has their own story to follow.

Even though each of the three races has different names for them, there are four basic character classes (the names in brackets are the actual class names, listed as Human, Mutant and Biomek respectively): Frontline Combat (Commando, Champion, Terminator), who has more of an affinity towards the fighting skills, Support & Indirect Combat (Engineer, Shaman, Constructor), who deal mostly in item creation and support skills, Command (Lieutenant, Archon, MasterMind), who aid in the fighting by bringing in other forms of destruction and help the group fight more efficiently, and Special Ops (Bounty Hunter, Avenger, Agent), which could be considered the game’s only Dual Class character, combining the combat skill of a fighter with the perception and intelligent skills of a commander. Each character class has their skills - such as combat skill and intelligence, with specific bonuses - set before the game starts, but as players progress through the levels, they can choose where your class points go, and create their own unique class of character.

Character creation is very simple, which is to be expected given the meat of gameplay takes place with the character inside a car. Players have the option of race, class, names, a customizable character face and outfit, as well as vehicle colors.

Auto Assault's gameplay has two faces.

One was is to treat it as a slowly unfolding single player game, where players do not have to have any contact with others. This has some appeal, but it would certainly be harder to achieve some of the more difficult missions in the game without help. Plus, this is an MMO after all.

The other is to make friends, bring together a group of mixed character classes and talents, and create a clan. Clans can then creates a convoy of vehicles that travels the maps, finishing missions together.

Both play-styles have their merits, and depending on what someone feels like doing and what time they log in, the option is there. Both the solo and group play-styles are realistic options.

Characters spend the bulk of the game in their vehicles, driving around the maps, destroying anything in their path and collecting items and enhancements. In a normal RPG, the weapons and enhancements players seek out would normally only be for their character, but because the game is played mostly in your vehicle, it would only seem logical that the enhancements and weapons be for it, which is the case in this game. The character’s body is only a vessel to walk around the towns, talking to other PC’s and NPCs, buying items for the car, and performing tasks.

The real gem of Auto Assault is not what most would expect from a post-apocalyptic car-combat MMORPG. It’s crafting. Most MMORPGs have crafting, but Auto Assault shows gamers how deep the rabbit hole really goes. Out on the field, anything can be destroyed, and I mean anything: fences, people, other vehicles, mutant creatures, old radio towers and billboards from before the apocalypse. Anything. And each of these classifications of “things” that can be destroyed drop certain items called commodities that can be used to create weapons, armor, and other items for player vehicles. Throughout the game, players pick up items that are broken and need to be fixed before they can be used.

Players train in three categories to help fix one or more of the three major components of your vehicle: Weapons (which, after a lot of training, classifies itself into many different kinds of weapons, including melee and energy weapons), Armor (which gives significant boosts to defense rating and number of hit points, as well as resistances to all kinds of damage), and Power Plants (which help reduce the heat that is created from weapons, as well as dictate the amount of power players have to use skills they receive).

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Guest Writer