Auto Assault
Platform: PC
Publisher: NCSoft
Developer: NetDevil
Format: CD-ROM
Release: US 11/09/05
Japan N/A
Official Site: English Site

Click to Enlarge
The sun rises on a mechanised wasteland...
Click to Enlarge
And carnage begins!
Click to Enlarge
With destructive light...
Click to Enlarge
And battles in the night.
Click for More Pics
Mark Tjan
First Look Preview
Mark P. Tjan

Since its success with the original Lineage, NCSoft is quickly becoming the Capitol Hill of online roleplaying. Titles like City of Heroes and Guild Wars are credits to its name, and there's still a lot more to come. One upcoming title of note is the unique Auto Assault, crafted by the NetDevil team at NCSoft. It departs from the common themes of knights, elves, and dragons, and replaces them with road rage and highway carnage.

The game's premise is that the world is in a post-apocalyptic state of unrest and chaos, where highway combat is a daily affair. Players can take control of one of three races in this wasteland of automotive mayhem, be it the humans, biomechs, or mutants. Each race comes with its own special talents, such as the biomech's ability to transform from vehicle to walker, or the human skill which allows players to project an energy field that causes incredible amounts of damage.

Where are the people though? Usually, MMORPGs let players create characters that are human or a variant thereof. One of the things that makes Auto Assault highly unique is that the player avatar is a vehicle rather than a person in combat situations. Players appear as a humanoid inside of towns. It may seem as If Auto Assault doesn't count as an RPG for this reason, but there's still plenty under the hood to keep it within the genre. One thing is that all the damage is calculated with a dice roll: player statistics against enemy statistics. The other is that there is definitely a presence of experience and upgrades to be had. There are quests to go on, stories to follow, and other wasteland warriors to meet.

The normal battlefield players will experience is the highway. As its name implies, the area is a vast interconnection of roads surrounded by wasteland terrain. Everything on this road is common to all players, and everyone can participate in whatever goes on. But up to eight players can also enter instanced areas where everything is unique to their experiences inside that region. Many quests will lead players within these zones and allow them to fight against a host of automotive NPCs out for blood and spare parts.

Another unique feature of Auto Assault is NetDevil's adaptation of the Havok Physics engine. Most MMORPGs don't deal with environmental physics at all, at least not in regular gameplay. But Auto Assault has it in abundance. Players will be able to tear down walls and demolish whole buildings with their arsenal, the result of which can be used to damage enemies, block escape routes, or create new throughways where obstacles once stood.

Physics are also incorporated into vehicle movement. If players drive off a ramp, their vehicles will go flying and not just drop to the ground as would be more common in other MMO's. The same applies for fired shots, rockets, and all other manner of weaponry. To facilitate the combination of firing and moving properly, NetDevil has created a system in which one set of controls is used to drive, while the player uses another set to turn gun turrets and fire.

The list of features goes on: 8-player instanced areas, a common inventory stockpile, similar to World of Warcraft's bank system, so players never have to visit a specific town's bank vault, and uniquely generated item statistics so no two attachments are ever the same. Crafted items are included in this, and players will be able to create custom recipes to further enhance their arsenal. Auto Assault looks to be a very unique experience on the MMORPG front, and players can look forward to it when it hits store shelves at the beginning of this November


© 2005 NCSoft, NetDevil.
All Rights Reserved.