APB: When Worlds Collide

As a species, humans tend to congregate in groups together based on various commonalities, be it geography, economic status, favorite sports franchises, political affiliations or any other...
As a species, humans tend to congregate in groups together based on various commonalities, be it geography, economic status, favorite sports franchises, political affiliations or any other number of bonds that link us. Gamers typically are no different than any other group, and like most others, we have our own unique subsets to further categorize us. While many of us in the gamer clique tend to occupy more than one subset, most tend to gravitate more to one type of game more frequently and gain more enjoyment from that genre than the others. MMOG players may be the most devoted of all the gaming phylum due to the relative high amount of commitment required to play the games at a high level, but just below us in the order of “needed amount of psychosis” required to play probably lies the hardcore First Person Shooter players.

 In the past few years the vitriol that was once reserved for MMOGs from the press at large has been deflected away from them to a very specific inhabitant of the FPS realm, Grand Theft Auto.
Hardcore urban street violence,                         APB style.
A quick point of clarification here, to label GTA as merely an FPS is a bit of a misnomer (as well as a lot of acronyms for one sentence!) as it has many elements of several popular game types all rolled into one, but in the end it really is you playing by yourself and whacking people with various weapons.  Several other pretty blatant rip offs of this innovative game have popped up, but none has seriously threatened GTA for the title of Most Negative Press.  As with the aforementioned MMOGer, it takes a certain personality type to really immerse yourself into the GTA lifestyle and many who do so find themselves hooked, as demonstrated by the game’s huge popularity and seemingly endless sequels and spinoffs. So what happens when a game developer tries to merge these two distinct and fairly brash personality types? Do we achieve some sort of uber -gamer homogony, or is this the new clash of the titans?

Looming on the horizon are several new offerings that have a solid FPS feel to them. While this is certainly nothing new in the market, it does tend to signal more of a trend than did, say, Planetside or Anarchy Online when they were released. Another trend being brought to the forefront of massively multiplayer online role-playing games is a departure from the tired and overused fantasy setting by way of a shift to high tech and “real world” style games.  Of this new breed of MMOG, none combines all the elements quite the way All Points Bulletin (or APB you acronym fans) does. APB looks to be the epicenter of the impending collision between GTA and MMO gamers and the results look to be very interesting to say the least.

This is hardly surprising since both games have a huge similarity at their core, both are the creations of David Jones.  APB, according to developer Realtime Worlds Executive Colin Macdonald in an interview with vg247, is “the bastard child of everything we’ve been striving towards over the 15-20 years" and "what Dave’s always wanted to do from GTA and before Crackdown and APB." While the moniker of massive may not apply as well to APB as it does to other MMOGs, it is still appropriate given that you will be able to interact with significantly more players than most LAN style games allow and the while the world may not be completely persistent, your character is.

Character advancement in APB will be vastly different from anything currently on the market as Realtime Worlds has stated that there will be no leveling in the game and that upgrades to your character will come in the way of weapons, currency and the ever popular bling.
APB bridges the gap between single player console style games and the persistent world MMOG
This is a pretty bold move for a company to take and one that, while often promised during initial development, is almost never delivered. It will be interesting to see if this deviation from the norm will go over well with the typical carrot on a string crowd.  This point of contention, more than any other, may be what keeps the typical MMOG player from giving this game much of a chance.

Another key component to long term game success comes down to market share a game can gather. The PC market is vastly different from the console market in both demographic and buying habits, so it remains to be seen what sort of cross over factor there will be, but I suspect that the allure of playing against (and with) a larger number of players that the typical console provides will be quite attractive.  If the launch of the game goes smoothly then I believe APB will get the attention of a lot of traditional MMOG players that are hungry for a new experience in their favorite genre, even without the traditional leveling model.

From all indications it looks that APB will be able to bring together two fairly different crowds to explore, exploit and battle it out on the rough and tumble streets of this adult themed game, keeping them there, however, will be the harder part and the true test of the games mettle.  Stay tuned to Ten Ton Hammer for more news and articles about APB and all the games in this rapidly expanding genre of MMOGs.

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