PAX East 2010: Hands On: APB: All Points Bulletin

PAX East 2010: Hands On: APB: All Points Bulletin

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Part Grand Theft Auto, part Champions Online, APB has the potential to be one of the coolest new MMOGs on the market.

"We think of [All Points Bulletin] as being about the 'Three Cs,'" the game's Executive Producer Joshua Howard told me in a small secluded booth on the PAX East show floor, "Conflict, Customization and Celebrity." Notoriety is such a core concept to the game, he explained, that the developers at RealTime Worlds hoped that fame would be a fundamental driving force in getting players to advance.

The level of customization in APB - a cops-and-robbers MMOG akin to what you'd get if you crossed Grand Theft Auto with a game like Champions Online - is really remarkable. I was able to play around with the character editor for a few minutes, and the amount of options that you could change on your character was frankly overwhelming. It was also a very organic and smooth experience, and it's notable how, no matter what I tried or how extreme I tried to set all the sliders, I always ended up with a character who looked human and not like some sort of monstrous freak of nature.

But the true impact of the customization is how recognizable you'll become to your friends and foes, said Howard. You'll be able to design your own graffiti tags to leave your mark on billboards, and you'll even be able to taunt your foes - when I was gunned down in the middle of a firefight, I heard what were unmistakably the first few bars of "Axel's Theme" from Beverly Hills Cop, which my killer had created as his own custom "death tune" heard by his victims.

The gameplay of APB is fairly unique in an MMOG in how heavily it revolves around the conflict between Criminals (who prey and feed on the city's vulnerable innocents) and the law-keeping-if-not-always-abiding-by Enforcers (who prey and feed on the city's Criminals). I was given a short mission to travel to a nearby area and hold and defend it against Enforcer attack, but a rival Enforcer in my District (persistent zones of roughly 100 players) was given the APB that I was on the prowl, and was ordered to stop me.

Though the Enforcer couldn't tell where I was, he knew where I was going, and was lying in wait. Being new to the game (but my opponent clearly was not), it wasn't long before I was swiftly gunned down... but to add insult to injury, the Enforcer had used a non-lethal weapon that only his side had access to, held me at gunpoint and handcuffed me. Arresting Criminals is harder, explained Howard, but you gain more respect as an Enforcer for not being just a bloodthirsty maniac.

Still, the game controlled like your typical third-person shooter, and was very easy to pick up as someone who plays that kind of games. I held my own in the second (and final) shootout of my play session: I'd joined an open-world party, and we'd been given a mission to spread the graffiti tag of a particular gang all around the city to make their name known. There were four of us Criminals working together, and a group of four Enforcers got the APB to take us down.

It was a very intense situation, guarding my teammates as they tagged, knowing that the enemy knew where our objectives were and could be lying in wait anywhere - but they didn't attack us until we arrived at the final area, a mall. After dying and respawning a short distance away (close enough to get you right back in the fight, far enough that you can't be camped) I finally made myself useful, covering my teammates as they worked to plant a bomb in the middle of the mall, guarding it until it exploded like a game of Counter-Strike.

The mechanics of APB need more polish, as do the animations - it feels very clunky to move around - and it's particularly frustrating to drive, since the cars have a tendency to drift severely (this, Howard informed me, was a design choice to make the driving playable in up to 300ms lag).

Still, the customization options are so cool - as is the idea that the top players will have statues of their uniquely customized avatars in the main social areas for the game - and the core concept of Enforcers vs. Criminals is so much fun, this will hopefully be a game to watch out for hitting later this year.

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Me likey. The only concern I would have would be the player addons, the graffiti and music one can add into their player entourage. It definitely adds to the individuality and the notoriety, but can also add to the lag. Hopefully anything the player makes is added server-side before it is shared with the other players.
I would love to try this but I kinda hope it's got some time yet before release. I haven't had a chance to try STO yet. Two words: Trial Period! WoW, EVE, and AoC have it, why are other newer MMO's treating trials like the plague?

A great article! My one worry is the drift that was spoken off when you're driving the vehicles. They will have to fine tune this to make sure it's not over the top. Which leads me to wonder how well the servers will handle latency and what we'll come to expect if you're above 300ms.

I'm so jealous of you. Wish I had the free time and money that involves with going to PAX East (Sure I'm in CT, bt still it's a haul). Been waiting to gain beta access since 2005 when it was still being produced by Webzen Games.

samsonguy920:

I would love to try this but I kinda hope it's got some time yet before release. I haven't had a chance to try STO yet. Two words: Trial Period! WoW, EVE, and AoC have it, why are other newer MMO's treating trials like the plague?

There will be no trial period because you don't have to pay a monthly subscription. Just need to buy the game in a store or via something like D2D/Impulse.

EDIT: Goto APB.com for more info about the game. They have a good 16 or so videos hidden away in the media section of the site that let you see more about pretty much everything.

Im in the closed beta of this, But thanks to a NEt botch & then a poorly timed work schedule, Ive yet to get into the game.

Im definately looking forward to my Beta Access though.

Looks pretty good. Don't get too many shooter-MMOGs, so it's got that going for it.

City of Heroes promised us user-statues too. Do you really think that's gonna happen?

I'm so playing Enforcer.

Wow, this actually got me interested in it. I hadn't cared much about APB before reading this.

jjcobra:

There will be no trial period because you don't have to pay a monthly subscription. Just need to buy the game in a store or via something like D2D/Impulse.

Whoa, really? No monthly fee? I may actually get it then.

For years I dreamed of a GTA-MMO where I could be a cop. I can't wait for this; when does it come out?

this is the first ive heard of this game.. though after going to the site and seeing the media for it, its already convinced me to buy it lol. cant wait for it to be released

Shihoudani:
A great article! My one worry is the drift that was spoken off when you're driving the vehicles. They will have to fine tune this to make sure it's not over the top. Which leads me to wonder how well the servers will handle latency and what we'll come to expect if you're above 300ms.

It makes driving well a skill, so even if you can't shoot well you can be an asset to your group by being the wheelman.

Aenir:
Wow, this actually got me interested in it. I hadn't cared much about APB before reading this.

jjcobra:

There will be no trial period because you don't have to pay a monthly subscription. Just need to buy the game in a store or via something like D2D/Impulse.

Whoa, really? No monthly fee? I may actually get it then.

Indeed. Interesting + no monthly fee = I approve. I might get it, if the price is right.

Few days ago i had my first experience with this game in the beta. Just as Mr. Funk pointed out, the outstanding quality of this game is the massive amount of costumisation available.
I didn't have too much time to dive into it yet but the setting seems to pretty cool.
And just like mentioned it's far from ready to ship. i encountered no gamebreaking bugs but there are tons of glitches and strange animations. But that's all stuff that can be fixed.

The driving is indeed a tricky thing and with some patience you learn to handle your car. That said, as it is now it's just not fun to drive.

KoreyGM:

Shihoudani:
A great article! My one worry is the drift that was spoken off when you're driving the vehicles. They will have to fine tune this to make sure it's not over the top. Which leads me to wonder how well the servers will handle latency and what we'll come to expect if you're above 300ms.

It makes driving well a skill, so even if you can't shoot well you can be an asset to your group by being the wheelman.

That's a great way to do it. I'd make a great wheelman. I genuinely impress people online in GTAIV all the time with my mad stunts and ability to juke any followers, including helicopters. I don't feel too bad about bragging about my mad wheel skills here as it is, sadly, one of my only talents I have real confidence in. Being wheelman sounds like a genuinely fun idea.

I've looked forward to this game since it was announced, and I'm only getting more and more pumped with every release. I wish I could have gotten in on the beta.

John Funk:

The mechanics of APB need more polish, as do the animations - it feels very clunky to move around - and it's particularly frustrating to drive, since the cars have a tendency to drift severely (this, Howard informed me, was a design choice to make the driving playable in up to 300ms lag).

I had the opportunity to try out APB the other day and I can say that this gameplay aspect is pretty frustrating. The on-foot movement and especially shooting are pretty stiff, and the vehicle control feels very funky and drifty, as mentioned. The gameplay mechanics resemble that of Saints Row 2, but at least shooting was fun in that game. If they don't improve this, I won't be buying APB.

You can boast about 'customization' and 'celebrity' all you want but in the end its 'conflict' that you'll be seeing most - the core of this type of an action game.

An intresting concept I have to say...I wouldnt think you would ever be ablet o make am MMO like this...

Seems like they may need to put a fair bit of work into it, but, could be really, really unique to the market!

This seems well cool. If I played MMOs I'd definitely check this one out. I love the idea behind it so lets hope the product can match it in quality.

jjcobra:
There will be no trial period because you don't have to pay a monthly subscription. Just need to buy the game in a store or via something like D2D/Impulse.

I... How... Seriously? That is awesome beyond words.

Arkhangelsk:

jjcobra:
There will be no trial period because you don't have to pay a monthly subscription. Just need to buy the game in a store or via something like D2D/Impulse.

I... How... Seriously? That is awesome beyond words.

Agreed. This sounds like an MMO that might actually convince me that it's worth playing.

Question is, can I dress up in a pinstripe 1930's gangster suit? I've grown rather attached to mine on Saints Row 2 (don't worry, I didn't pay for it- got it free with DoWII:CR).

Now that's gangster.

Reminds me heavily of EVERY other crime mmog out or gonna be out. Really of Crimecraft..

in the beta atm, very good game

I don't know. I saw some gameplay and it just looks clunky, boring, and all around bad. It is, however, only in very early beta so that will hopefully be fixed.

This does sound promising, particularly the fact that it won't be subscription based (provided I read it right).
Have to wait and see how the matchmaking, driving and everything else turns out.

Though I might be tempted to have my tune as "Gotta catch them all" if I end up playing Enforcer just for the aptness of it.

Mod Edit: This thread is about PAX East, not your personal forum for discussing your Pokemon fetish. You didn't think I would see your avatar + mudkip badge + this post = Pokemon furry porn? Yeah, I do see the connection, and you aren't welcome at our secret Pokemon furry porn meeting anymore. Permabanned. -Kuliani

I wonder if this'll have a Guild Wars mindset in terms of pricing and selling things. (Selling items and other small things that provide a bonus but aren't needed to compete at high levels)

APB is the one game I've been waiting for a long time. I already know I'll play as an Enforcer because, deep down, I'm a goody two-shoes.

I'll need to start working on typing /dance as quickly as possible so in the midst of a firefight, I can bust a move.

Given PvP is on my list of haet in MMO's, a game with that as its core gameplay is probably not on my hit list.

That said, Enforcer theme song suggestion: I Can't Stop Loving You. ...for no particular reason.

Flying-Emu:
I'm so playing Enforcer.

WE ARE THE LAW!

But yeah, I've had my eye on APB since it was announced at (the last, I think) E3. It looked fun as hell then, and I've always been a sucker for character customization.

I was in the closed two-week beta. Thanks to the Escapist, which showed me the link to be considered.

The game is AWESOME! But almost all of the play is derived from APBs, which are not handed out every time by the server manager. The difference is both in terms of fun, because who wants to go out and not be competed against, and money, because the financial rewards handed out aren't as great when you're not participating in an APB. Driving is fun and intuitive. I highly recommend this game, mostly because it's a free MMO shooter that doesn't necessarily feel like a free MMO.

If I have violated the NDA, which I'm pretty sure I haven't, then I humbly apologize.

Hmm, wonder how many people's death music will be rickrolls?

Personally I'm starting to think the MMO can only consistantly deal on one promise, which is to deduct X monies from your bank account each month. More on topic Enforcer death song, Oooooh whatcha saaaaay!

 

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