I strongly believe the title still has a massive potential and am delighted the it has been taken up by the K2 Network. The character creation truely is outstanding and like never before, you can really define your character in the game. I’ve actually been able to create “Develion”, although after about 1000 iterations whilst QA testing I did then move to making petite redheads which kind of stuck through Beta and into launch. The vehicle customisation is incredible as well. I love driving around with my Develion logo and clan website plastered over my car that typically is either a bunch of harsh lines and “scratch marks” or two stripes, Beast GTS style. Add in being able to make my logo “Cry More Nub” and plastering it across the city… awesome cakes.
The core 4 player group based online action title is excellent as well. Piling in a car, speeding through the city then getting stuck into a gun fight, awesome. When the game is played on a level playing ground with a bunch of friends in a style intended by the design, I can’t think of any games that has provided the same enjoyment.
However APB has its issues. Upgrades can be incredibly game breaking and just ruined a session all too many times. The weak mission design tools meant that they were rather primitive, although I’ve had many an enjoyable playing session. Having to press a button to do something never really bothered me as a gamer, although I can understand people’s concern. I’ve been slated in a debate for mentioning this, however many major online shooters involve nothing more sophisticated than APB for objective. How do you complete an objective in CS or Bad Company 2? Pressing a button. It is about the fight to get there, but as I say… I do understand the concerns. For me, as with many of APBs issues, the problem lies in understanding the game. Is it about setting off a bomb or is it about PvP combat? Personally I’ve understood it as the latter where, as with other action titles, the pressing of a button to deploy a bomb is a means to bring players together but the game was never sold this way.
The game is also overly confusing with a lot of complex systems and no real tutorial. Whilst I did work on this, it was with both hands tied behind my back, legs cut off and my neck in a brace. Players are expected to read messages, which they wont, or remember everything explained to them in the intro video (which was out dated come launch), which they won’t. If you have a few friends with experience of the game then you are well sorted! They can help you out and teach you the ropes but otherwise it was such a challenge to figure out what was going on. Yes the player was informed about the game (and if QA’s bugs had their way absolutely EVERYTHING would have been described in tutorial messages) but you need to take the time to let players get accustomed to things before throwing them in the deep end. Games like CoD and Battlefield can get away with it as the FPS genre is tried and tested but APB involved a complex inventory, Contacts, missions, progression, Notoriety/Prestige, upgrades and so forth.
Finally the leagues were an issue, very open to exploitation. I did find it frustrating that certain clans exploited the game to win the leagues, which earnt them all good weapons to then further exploit the leagues. The zerg factor shone through where the unsportsman are rewarded and become stronger and develop their dark ways. Bah.
Other things that the game were slated for included the combat and driving, however post launch these were addressed. The combat did feel weak but I’ve played and enjoyed many games that are similar in terms of combat and enjoyed them. In fact I prefered it to GTA where I get a cinematic experience with cover and auto-aim but not quite the same faced paced rush. However the improvements gave some much needed grunt to the combat and I thought that it reached a sufficient level for when APB was put forward for re-reviews. I don’t think it added anything to actual game play but it does make a better first impression, which is all that counts (I see a future rant coming up here!). Personally I always like APB’s handling. Whilst it did feel a little funny at first, once I got to grips with it I found it to be rather enjoyable and satisfying. The lag is still there, but you can’t just say “hey, lets not have lag on an online game. That’d be awesome!”. The improvements were hit and miss for me as they were more responsive but after two and a half years of the old handling, I struggled to adapt. Nonetheless for a re-review/relaunch, this was good.
I really hope that APB goes on to be the game we all wanted. It really could be a terrific title.
I’ve gone into more detail about my thoughts on the weaknesses in game and how to improve them in the “Ramblings” category.