Updated Tue, Jan 10, 2012 by Stow
Don’t let APB:R trick you with the “MMO” part. You are not at any point going to go collect the rear end of any bears for any form of progression. The missions in this game are cooperative assignments that have you trying to reach and capture, collect, or protect objectives before the opposing side stops you. Auto-grouping works to put players into groups for the dynamically assigned missions that send you out into the world for PvP combat.
The de facto example is that Criminals will be grouped up and told to rob a store while Enforcers will be dispatched to stop them. The Criminals will be assigned to “rob the store” which is interact with the store while the Enforcers will be assigned to “protect the store” or stop any Criminals from interacting with it.
If you can get everyone to work together than this is a multiplayer masterpiece, but the odds of success are below 10% or one in every 10 missions.
When everything comes together, the players all have about the same level weaponry and skill, and everyone works as a team the multiplayer aspect shines brightly and APB:R becomes an immoderately fun game. If any kinks pop up (a player sits at the Joker weapon booth, someone takes their car for a joy ride in the opposite direction while the entire team is loaded into it and then proceeds to blow it up, etc.) then the multiplayer aspect can sour things.
Griefing is also rampant and, in milder forms, encouraged as you’ll be playing your mission and players who aren’t in your mission may ride through knocking everyone out of their way and in general be annoying. This can sour the fun, but for some may add a bit of enjoyment.
Most free-to-play games allow those with the hard cash to walk over those who don’t wish to pay, but in APB this simply isn’t true. You can buy or rent weapons from the marketplace but that isn’t going to give you the instant win chance (and most weapons are obtainable in game anyway). The only necessary object that you’ll want from the store is the premium subscription, which increases your in-game rewards and comes at the rather nice price of $12.50 USD the first month and $10.00 USD for subsequent months.
Most weapons and items in the game are unlockable by earning standing with the various NPCs and with the in-game cash (through either the auction house or from the NPCs themselves) along with all of the customization options.
You won’t find people running around instantly killing you thanks to their amazing purchases, so rest assured that you won’t have to pay money to come out ahead, but you can shave off a lot of grinding through either the premium or buying your favorite weapon out right.
One thing APB has going for it is the ability to log in and jump right into the action (after a rather long loading screen of course). You don’t have to beg for groups or sit somewhere asking players to help you raid the local liquor store. The game assists you and other would be goody two shoes or gangsters in grouping up and launching yourselves into the fray of combat. Yet, it can get pretty repetitive after a while of doing the same missions over and over again – but the missions themselves are just merely captions on your adventure, the real meat and potatoes is the combat.
Working on making the hottest "hot rod" in town can be a fun way to play APB since you're capable of showing off your creations in the social district.
Should the actual combat become too boring for you then there is another entire aspect of the game in the form of the customization options. You can spend all day long building your gear out from designing your own t-shirts and jeans to “pimping” out your sweet ride. The social district is a game within a game when it comes to designing your own clothes and even customizing the music that plays when you finally “cap” someone with your “sweet” weaponry.
So there aren’t any quests that take you on a magical journey. Nay, this is a shooter, and it does what a shooter lets you do: load the game up and shoot people. So if that’s your cup of tea then grab some biscuits because you’ll be stuck here awhile. If not, expect it to not cling on to you for more than a few days.
All Points Bulletin has improved drastically from its original launch, but isn’t necessarily the MMO Grand Theft Auto we’ve all been looking for. It’s a fun time-waster that the free-to-play crowds will have a blast with, while the dedicated MMO and Shooter fans may still turn their noses up at APB:R. If you like the above-the-shoulder online shooter and want to have some casual fun, then APB:R might be the game for you. But if you’re hoping for a solid RPG experience too, then you may find yourself disappointed.