Friday, June 18, 2010

APB At A Glance

This past week I have been participating in the open beta for APB (All Points Bulletin for those unaware with cop lingo). From the developer Realtime Worlds (which has been scooped up by EA. How are they NOT a monopoly by now?), it is set to release at the end of the month (6/29/10) for the PC. After 6 hours of game play, with another 4 to burn, here are my thoughts.

Positives:

It's GTA online. In other words, you know walking into it what you're going to get. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. One aspect of the GTA series that I wish RockStar would beef up is their online play for GTA4. But it hasn't happened, and doesn't look like it will anytime soon. APB takes the entertaining parts of GTA and throws them into this online world for cops and robbers. Except the cops are freelancers and robbers are pretty serious gangs.  

Extensive character/clothing modification. The way the beta key works, you get 10 hours of game play in the non-social areas and unlimited time in the social zone. I have probably spent at least 8 hours in the social area looking through the endless amount of graphics, colors, and tools to make a shirt. This game does a fantastic job of allowing the gamer to create their own look. You can pivot, stretch, turn, shrink, and flip designs however you wish. And it's pretty easy to get into. It's like The Sims on crack.

Quick group access. By this I mean it is easy for you to jump in and out of groups and missions. As you progress in the game, missions get difficult and you are going to need a few people to help you out. If you have friends, great. If you don't, the game can quickly set you up with an open group that best suits your needs/level.

 Easy money. Seriously. Never had a game where loosing still grants me money. It makes upgrading weapons a hell of a lot easier.

Negatives:  

Matchmaking is unbalanced. Let's say you are a bad guy and you have just started the game. Your quest is to break into a store and steal something. As your about to proceed, you get the warning that a freelance officer is on your tail. And then bam! Sniper rifle to the face. Now you have 3 officers on you, 2 of them with shot guns, and no one to help you finish the quest. The current matchmaking system is based on who of the opposing team is available to stop you from completing your mission. It's not about levels, or skill, or your weapons. My friends and I learned very quickly that if we did not have each other to help out at the beginning, we would have been stomped.  

The game gets old fast. I'm hoping it's because that early on you have to do repetitive missions (stop the bad guy, break into the store, steal the car!) until you get to the more difficult tasks that they change it up. But you get tired of the fetch quests pretty quickly.

Bad car mechanics. Now that cool thing about this game is free cars from the get go and easy stealing. But the controls are horrible. You have to use your WASD to steer the car. Your mouse is your camera, which with most games might help you with steering a vehicle. Not here. All you get is WASD and good luck to you! It's really clunky and takes a while to get use to. Even worse if you are an enforcer for the good guys. You get penalized if you don't follow the rules of the road, accidentally hit pedestrians (which you will do a lot at the beginning), and run into mailboxes, fire hydrants, lights, etc. If you're a bad guy, who cares! But if you want to play on the good side, you can get horribly screwed if you don't take the time to learn how to drive. 

Overall, it's ok. It does what it's suppose to do, but I don't know if it's worth the full purchase price until I can see more of the challenges after the fetch quests. If you're interested in trying out the game, the beta is still going on.

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