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APB Reloaded Open Beta Preview

Posted Thu, Jun 30, 2011 by Stow

All Points Bulletin: Reloaded, or APB, is all about pure carnage. You run people over, you blow heads off, you punch people and take their money, and you troll the user base as much as humanly possible in the process.

In that respect, APB is the pure essence of the internet. But APB is also a game of cat and mouse, of cops and robbers, and of good and evil. It’s not so much an MMORPG as it is a persistent world of Grand Theft Auto. Does it work? It truly depends on your love of the formula and your friends.

Cautions

For an MMO, this game is harsh. People swear very vividly in several languages and you pummel civilians. If the kids want to play a game, I would suggest Maple Story, the polar opposite of this bloodsport.

Gameplay

There's also a third faction.  You don't want to mess with these guys.

There are two obvious sides to the game, in the Enforcers and Criminals.  They seek to thwart each other at every turn, and that comes into play quickly once you step outside of the newbie zone where you get accustomed to the mission-based gameplay of APB.

Whether you roll as one or as many, you simply queue up and you’ll be randomly assigned a task.  This ranges from busting criminals, securing lost merchandise, tagging dumpsters, or even planting bombs.  At some point during the mission though, you’ll be matched up against an opposing team.  They’ll know your objective and have their own objective in mind for the key item or simply seek to defend the area.  All of this is seamless once you’ve entered a ‘district’, which corresponds to one of the three main types of servers, holding 100 or more people at any given time.

Here’s where this goes from Grand Theft Auto into Beverly Hills Cop.  GamersFirst rightfully shifted the focus from APB's ample customization to gameplay, but unforunately preserved certain fatal flaws from the original release. At the top of the list (and something that, thankfully, GamersFirst is still tuning, according to the latest dev blog), the matchmaking is still seemingly random and will put you in mismatched fights, either from an odds perspective or against a team of extremely high level players.  Combine this with an array of predictable spawn points, often times in sight of a guarded objective, and you’ll have bullets in the head before you even make it to a car.  Once an objective is in the hands of the enemy, taking it back is far harder than it should be.  Good luck assaulting people on high ground in cover.

You don't see passenger mounts in WoW giving you the ability to lean out and dispense lead.  Make your friend drive and kill people with style!

Even though the gameplay can get downright unfair and silly, the physics of the game always lead to a good time.  Cars will fly off each other like ramps, people fly vans off rooftops and in front of objectives that players need to reach.  Players will occasionally slide for miles when hit by a car, and generally the world is just absurd when you have momentum and mass on your side.  That can’t prevent the game from getting stale with the same old formula nonstop, but it greatly amplifies the fun of making a band of friends and cruising the town.  Three people hanging out of the side windows of cars hailing everyone with gunfire is simply badass and belongs in every game—regardless of genre.

Graphics

APB still looks alright by today’s standards. There are some frustrating UI issues at higher resolutions, such as icons for objectives being the size of sugar ants. The array of cars and the textures that they have could use some work as well. Even at high standards, you’ll be looking at the peak of maybe the PS2 era of graphics. Just like CrimeCraft though, the super stylized loading scenes and art that peppers the game are top notch.

Sound

One of the unexpected high points of the game, APB has some licensed tracks and some good music in-between. When you’re pummeling civilians for quick cash, they respond with a wide variety of quips and four letter words, some in different languages. The only low point is the weapons, which sound a little on the weak side.


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