It's the great promise of video games: Buy this box because it contains fun. Sadly, instead of fun the box often contains Condemned or BloodRayne 2 or, God forbid, The Guy Game, and that fun you were promised goes swirling down the toilet bowl, buoyed momentarily by the putrescent log of a product you paid $50 for.

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But not Full Auto—it fulfills the promise of fun in a box. When you're speeding through town at 80 mph, blasting away storefronts with a rocket launcher, you'll know it's money well spent. What does the game get right? Let's start with powersliding, which I have been big on since shortly after Pole Position. You go into a turn, use the hand brake to spin the car 90 degrees, then release the brake while keeping the gas pedal down so you don't lose speed. It's the quintessential video-game racing maneuver, in everything from Mario Kart to Colin McRae Rally. Full Auto makes powersliding easy and fun, with arcade-like controls that let you whip a sharp turn without losing control over your vehicle every other time.

Combat in Full Auto is also a blast. You can pick from several arms packages, each of which gives you two weapons: a rocket launcher and a mine dropper, for example. There's no upgrading or fiddling with stats—just pick a car, pick a package, and get on the track. The weapons are fun and easy—notice a theme?—and provide cool tactical opportunities.

Then there are the courses. Each is fully destructible, reminiscent of MechAssault's orgy of destruction, but at high speed. Destroying environmental obstacles opens up alternate routes, letting you shave seconds off your time as you learn the courses and how to modify them by blowing things up. The rewind feature is also impressive. You can quickly rack up five seconds of backward time, so if you take a corner poorly or run over a deadly mine you can squeeze a button for half a second and then steer the other way. If that still doesn't save you, rewind again for a little longer and get it right. You can use it all up on a single tough situation, but you earn more soon enough.

Online play is reasonable. There's no time rewind (understandably) and no computer-controlled cars to fill out a partial match (not understandably), but otherwise it's nicely done and very responsive.

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Full Auto is a joy. It's fast, fun, very accessible, and the visuals are gorgeous. It's the best retail title for the 360 other than Call of Duty, and a real treat for those of us who still naively open the box expecting fun inside. Vroom! Vroom!

editor@thestranger.com

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