Table of contents

Page Previous 1 2 3 Next

Advertisement

APB Review

MMO PC Review by Rob Fahey

2 July, 2010

Page 1 of 3. Page 2 ->

Initially, I blamed the weather. The hottest week of the year, with the blazing sun promising lazy afternoons in London parks with cold beers to hand, is a pretty uncharitable time to start plugging hours into a massively multiplayer game. I was clock-watching, glancing at the time after every couple of missions, wondering if I'd played enough for today and could justify switching off the PC and marching out into daylight.

Within the first ten hours, however, I knew that something was wrong that had nothing to do with the weather. I didn't really want to go out into the dazzling sunshine - I'm Irish, for God's sake, our reaction to the sun makes vampires wince sympathetically - I just wanted a reason to stop playing APB.

In itself, that's not unusual. Game reviewers end up playing all manner of dreadful stuff, and are honour-bound to play for several hours longer than any sane human would ever wish to. Yet APB doesn't tick the boxes that usually point to a bad game. For a start, it's from a studio - Realtime Worlds - whose last game, Crackdown, remains one of my personal highlights of the Xbox 360's catalogue, and whose creative bosses cut their teeth on little projects like, oh, inventing Grand Theft Auto.

'APB' Screenshot 1

San Paro's approach to law enforcement is unique. He won't be doing that again, that's for sure.

For another thing, APB is a remarkably polished and accomplished game in many ways. I've played many MMOs at launch, and if they share a single trait, it's bumpy starts - server issues, unstable, buggy clients, half-finished content and unimplemented features are the order of the day. Not in APB; the game isn't technically perfect by any means, but it's closer than any launch MMO I've ever played.

If my lack of enthusiasm for APB could be blamed on easily patched technical issues, it would offer a glimmer of hope. It's a lot harder to patch fun into a game which has seemingly forgotten to add any.

That's a sweeping statement, so let me clarify. APB is a game about driving and shooting. It takes the basic template of Grand Theft Auto and attempts to place it into a massively multiplayer environment.

A lot of thought has gone into how that is accomplished, and some very clever solutions have been created, but the core idea is simple - you pick a faction for your character, either a Criminal or an Enforcer, and whenever you start a mission, the game notifies opposing players in the region and offers them the task of stopping you.

'APB' Screenshot 2

Enforcers can subdue criminals with non-lethal weapons and earn bounties for cuffing them.

It's an entirely player-versus-player game, then, where the opposition you'll encounter during quests is made up of other players, not AI-controlled enemies. Each engagement generally ends up with a handful of players on each side, either playing in a team together or shoved together temporarily by the game's matchmaking system, all battling for a variety of objectives scattered around the city district.

Since you can only attack opposing players who are directly involved in your mission, the result is that each sprawling district ends up with multiple gun battles and high-speed chases going on at once, ensuring that there's always plenty of action to watch even if you're just cruising around the city.

If you ignore the conceit of having several of them going on in the same district at once, however, these battles are just third-person multiplayer shooters, pitching a handful of players against each other in a variety of objective-based scenarios. This is the initial surprise for many new players of APB - it has vastly more of its DNA in common with online action games than it does with MMOs. There are few stats, no concept of levelling up in the traditional sense, and no numbers floating around above people's heads in combat. It's a game about shooting and driving.

Advertisement
Comments

Want to comment on this article? Log in, or register!

Comments: 1-50 of 118 Next →

Poster
Comment Low-scoring comments hidden. Log in to see them!
lambtron
02/07/10 @ 08:02
#1
+2
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Oh oh.
muscleblade
02/07/10 @ 08:08
#2
+15
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
The most talented devs went over to Ruffian to make Crackdown 2 maybe?

ybfelix
02/07/10 @ 08:16
#3
+14
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
To think what Crackdown 2 would be like if all these effort went into it.
the_dudefather
02/07/10 @ 08:17
#4
+1
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Better than Darkfall! ;)
Nillsens
02/07/10 @ 08:21
#5
+32
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Saw this coming during the beta.
Sunyavadin
02/07/10 @ 08:22
#6
+9
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
If my lack of enthusiasm for APB could be blamed on easily patched technical issues, it would offer a glimmer of hope. It's a lot harder to patch fun into a game which has seemingly forgotten to add any.

Really? And here I was thinking most people's lack of enthusiasm was mainly down to their insane pricing system.

And yeah, it does look like the cream of their devs went to Ruffian...
ClubHeaven
02/07/10 @ 08:24
#7
0
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
It always looked like rubbish. Dumb, ugly, headache-inducing rubbish.
Edited 1 times, most recently on 02/07/10 @ 08:24
Ryboy
02/07/10 @ 08:26
#8
+17
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
A bloody shame really. This could have been mental...
davisorle
02/07/10 @ 08:28
#10
+19
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Liek i said ever since i was in the Beta... This is going to dissapoint many people. I didnt like it at all and the vocal ads announced a couple of days just sounded like a total joke on top of it.
Darren
02/07/10 @ 08:28
#11
+2
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Looks a bit rubbish from the gameplay videos I've seen actually. Realtime Worlds would have been better off focusing their attention on Crackdown 2 instead of giving it to a third-party, maybe then we'd have had a sequel that looked less like a remake set in the same bloody city!
Hunam
02/07/10 @ 08:31
#12
+8
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
I've played the beta and the keys to the city event and I really can't disagree with Rob here. Many issues can be fixed, but the driving and shooting isn't very good. It can be a blast but only for a handful of hours. There is no real sense of progression and you'll end up recycling content very quickly. It's probably better than GTA4 multi though.
a8a
02/07/10 @ 08:33
#13
+25
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Wait the games goes live today, in Europe, and you are doing a review?

Early access has been open all week.
Paperghost
02/07/10 @ 08:39
#14
+24
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
"Realtime Worlds having determined, bizarrely, that victory should be based on who holds the location when the timer runs out, not who has held it for the majority of time over the course of the mission."

Wow - that's amazingly silly.
mingster
02/07/10 @ 08:40
#15
+8
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Yup 100% agree with the review. It is exactly what i thought when playing the beta.
The character customiztion is great but the shooting and driving is rubbish.
Definately would not pay to play this at all.
Uninstalled the beta to save 8gb of hard disk space that i considered more useful than this game.
Kentlad
02/07/10 @ 08:43
#16
+7
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Yep, spot on with the review.

Game is just dull dull dull! Played it through most stages of beta and the pre-launch thing.

I would not be surprised to see this the way Global Agenda has and be free to play within a few months.
Valver
02/07/10 @ 08:44
#17
+7
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
I played the beta a few times and was quickly of the opinion that APB was utter bilge water. It's just not fun. So not suprised by this review at all...
Edited 1 times, most recently on 02/07/10 @ 08:45
Oli staff
02/07/10 @ 08:45
#18
+33
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
@Lestat 1898

Although the game is released in shops today, live European servers have been open since Monday 28th and we've had access since then. This review is based on impressions from play on live servers this week, as well as the Keys to the City preview event which ran earlier in June.
thewool
02/07/10 @ 08:46
#19
+6
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Quite relieved in a weird kind of way as it's another game I don't have to buy/play.

The older I get the less time I have so have to be picky... and still have the Fallout 3 expansions to get through.

PlugMonkey
02/07/10 @ 08:47
#20
+8
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
@ mingster: Same here. I was really surprised by how much it felt like a generic mmo in its structure. I know they want to build in a scale of escalation, but do they really have to start me off doing what amounts to little more than chores? Does my character have to start so shit that they are incapable of shooting an enemy at point blank range?

I was expecting GTA online, and I got gimped version of World of Warcraft with guns and gang tattoos.

Meh.
faselei
02/07/10 @ 08:48
#21
+11
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Erm no... no... this was meant to be awesome, it was meant to finally be the mmo I was going to play, it was meant to get a 9!

Bah!
Doctor_What
02/07/10 @ 08:49
#22
+2
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
"Barbie dress-up for violent lunatics."
Okay, so that bit sounds quite fun just to decide what clothes I should wear today. I think I'm slowly morphing into my Rock Band avatar, so I think it's about time I set the bar higher :D
Thedni
02/07/10 @ 08:50
#23
+4
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
What a missed opportunity. I wouldn't bother picking this up if you are running a 32 bit OS either, no matter what specs you are rocking you'll be locked with the lowest graphic settings [Unless this was changed recently, which I doubt somewhat].
berelain
02/07/10 @ 08:55
#24
-9
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Can't say theres much I disagree with here, though I was slightly kinder- I gave it a 7 , mainly based on a few great moments I've had during play that show APBs real potential.
muscleblade
02/07/10 @ 09:04
#26
0
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
@thewool

I know the feeling. Based on the demo i think i might enjoy Crackdown 2 quite a bit though.
the_sas_man
02/07/10 @ 09:06
#27
+3
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
After the Beta this is no surprise. Had such potential.
levitate
02/07/10 @ 09:22
#28
0
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
I received a key to beta but I never used it. I've played and loved all the GTA games but this seems like a bland copy of it.
Dylbot
02/07/10 @ 09:22
#29
+3
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
From my beta time, I found that the missions and the combat were pretty much an annoyance that you had to deal with if you wanted to do some more of that sweet, sweet customisation. It's half a brilliant game and half a shit one. Which is a shame, because it had the potential to be an absolute monster.
Scimarad
02/07/10 @ 09:24
#31
+21
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Why do games with decent character editors (Spore/Champions/APB) almost always turn into mediocre games. It's really, really annoying!
Eraysor
02/07/10 @ 09:27
#32
+4
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Having played the beta I can totally agree with this review. The most irritating thing for me is that for some reason if you have a 32-bit OS the game forces the graphics settings very low, despite the fact that I happily run Metro 2033/Crysis maxed out...
andywilkie35
02/07/10 @ 09:27
#33
+15
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Wahey! Absolute Pointless Bollocks!
schnide
02/07/10 @ 09:29
#34
+1
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Wow, didn't see this coming - I thought this had pedigree. But then I've only read about it, not played it.
Quint2020
02/07/10 @ 09:33
#35
+6
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
I bet the Ruffian guys are glad they jumped ship when they did.
Whizzo
02/07/10 @ 09:34
#36
+2
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
I was pretty excited by the game to start with during my time in the beta but as I spent more time in it that ebbed away and no matter how many improvements got added over the different builds it never actually got better as a game.

APB is a nice idea and the customisation is indeed great but it's not a lot of fun, charging by the hour rather than going the Guild Wars route is also insane.
Edited 1 times, most recently on 02/07/10 @ 09:34
Bertie staff
02/07/10 @ 09:36
#37
+19
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Such a shame.
Skurmedel
02/07/10 @ 09:36
#38
+3
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Scimarad: I'm guessing so much time and thinking goes into the customisation tools the rest suffers. I'm no game developer though. I feel more or less the same about The Sims, when I play it, customisation is the game. When I don't cheat or don't have any money to pimp my house, I stop finding it fun.
Edited 1 times, most recently on 02/07/10 @ 09:36
jellyhead
02/07/10 @ 09:43
#39
+1
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
A real shame. I was excited about the game but as time went on i became less and less interested. They said in interviews that they had a whole slew of ideas they'll implement and that they'd listen to the community and change the game accordingly so it'll probably be worth checking it out in 6 months once the community have spoken and there's more user-created content in-place.

I don't know if it will live long enough get that chance though. Shame, still there's always Crackdown 2 out soon!
MaxiSleep
02/07/10 @ 09:44
#40
-1
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Another Leet PvP MMO disaster. When will they learn.
strelok
02/07/10 @ 09:47
#41
0
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
"Realtime Worlds having determined, bizarrely, that victory should be based on who holds the location when the timer runs out, not who has held it for the majority of time over the course of the mission."

Wow - that's amazingly silly.


Nothing silly about that. This mode has been around since forever and works perfectly in a lot of games.
darkmorgado
02/07/10 @ 09:57
#42
+17
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
@Stompy

This reviewer admitted to not liking the game . Yet there is no outcry about it.

Hmm. Is it just because we don't like people reviewing our games when we haven't accepted them as gamers? I hope the answer isn't this facile.


By your logic then, all games should get good reviews, no matter how bad they are, because reviewers aren't allowed to dislike a game? Seems a bit idiotic, no?
mingster
02/07/10 @ 09:58
#43
+3
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
I have said this before but unfortunately RTW have put so much time and resources behind this they can't back out or overhaul it radically now it is too late. This game is very likely to send them into recievership. They just won't be able to afford the ongoing costs of running the servers and bandwidth when they don't have the amount of subscribers they are hoping to generate. It is going to be a very high profile flop.
Shinji moderator
02/07/10 @ 09:59
#44
+16
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Nothing silly about that. This mode has been around since forever and works perfectly in a lot of games.

It's rather silly in this context. Actually, I've just been having a conversation on Twitter about that point in the review - what I was getting at is the fact that rather than an arbitrary timer, most games with C&H objectives use a point system. RTW's decision to use a timer is odd and frustrating, because while it makes the last 20 seconds frantic, it means that the preceding 4 or 5 minutes are dull and pointless, since there's no benefit to actually attacking the objective in that time.

There was a better solution available to the designers, which other games have used for around 15 years (and probably before that, too), so it's frankly baffling that they used this system instead. Combined with the poor combat and heavy bias towards camping, it pretty much ruins this type of mission.
kiroquai
02/07/10 @ 09:59
#45
0
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
I actually find the driving alright - once you get used to the weight of the cars and stuff it's decent enough. Agree on the general gunplay being a whole load of rubbish though - at the moment it seems like players with the sub machine guns can win pretty easily by simply jumping around spraying bullets everywhere.
dadrester
02/07/10 @ 10:04
#46
+1
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
"The most talented devs went over to Ruffian to make Crackdown 2 maybe?"

The Ruffians who left RTW were working on Crackdown before they left. There's more than one team in Scotland's second largest developer.
Spekingur
02/07/10 @ 10:07
#47
+2
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
I really liked the fact you could create a hot computer woman in this game. Same as with AoC. Being able to create hot half-naked computer women in a game will always lure in gamers.

Driving can be fixed and I have no doubt that the shooting could be too - those were my major annoyances for my short time in beta. Hadn't the time to find out the rest of the not-okay things that Rob mentioned. I'm guessing that the game is going to require an overhaul soon if it is to be successful.
trebell
02/07/10 @ 10:29
#48
0
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
Such a shame they didn't tak the chance to make crackdown 2 as i am sure it would have made them more money.
Edited 1 times, most recently on 02/07/10 @ 10:30
Azmat
02/07/10 @ 10:30
#49
0
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
I don't know. I've played KttC and been playing since Monday aswell. So far, the fun i've had has outweighed the negatives for me. I do think that the key to having fun is to be grouped up with buddies/friends. It really is a lot more enjoyable when you can coordinate, even on a basic level. And although the ingame voip is great, few people bother to use it, and of those who do, only few use it to communicate with others (example: French keep talking french, even if you try to reach out and coordinate an attack).
With friends however it gets real fun. Crawl in a car, drive like a madman, and have your buddies shoot up those wannabe pursuers. Succesfully take a point where the enemy got first (it's really not impossible).
And hell, i find the car handling to be good enough. Sure - some handle like a barge, others act better. For example, i like the power of the Cisco Charger, and you got to be careful not to swing its rear out when you use the handbrake.

My major concerns however are: the matchmaking by far. I don't know how it works, but so far it seems to look only at your threat level, and then throw in opposition until the total of the threat levels of enforcer team matches that of the crim team. So often enough, you get some unbalanced numbers, and though it's not always too bad, it can be annoying enough. Or be pitted against a team with superior equipment, yet low threat levels. Blows.
Also, i hope numeric balance remains between enf-crim, as it seems enforcers are the favoured choice atm.
And districts with more players would be nice! Even though there is quite some action with 80 people in a district, lots of places still are very quiet and away from all that action. Some more people would probably liven things a bit up, providing the missions don't send 2 or 3 teams to the same crossroad ofcourse x_x
JEPC123
02/07/10 @ 10:45
#50
+5
You buried this comment
Comment below viewing threshold
Show
'French keep talking french'

Les Français parlent toujours le français? Quelle idée! The sneaky bastards, speaking only their language :P

Comments: 1-50 of 118 Next →

Want to comment on this article? Log in, or register!

X View gallery