The first time I played the original Realtime Worlds beta of All Points Bulletin I never really got past the first few tutorial missions due to a faulty graphics card. After spending some time with the free-to-play revival of this game, I’m starting to think I may have missed out on a fun experience.
Taking place in the fictional city of San Paro, APB pits criminals vs enforcers in a virtual game of cops & robbers. Featuring no classes, levels or stats, your skill with a gun will largely dictate your success, or failure in this game.
I say there are no classes but that’s not entirely true. Players can purchase equipment and character modifications that grant various buffs in the form of extra health, quicker health regen, ammo regeneration for team mates, and various other goodies I’ve not yet had the chance to play with. This enables players to specialise in various areas, perhaps equipping modifications beneficial to a sniper, or a close quarter shotgun wielder in effect creating your own custom class similar to the perks/specialisation features of modern FPS shooter titles.
Character customisation features some of the most varied options and choices you will likely ever see in an MMO, and will probably suck up a large amount of time when creating your first character. I was able to knock up a hockey masked enforcer tribute to Casey Jones fairly easily. Another childhood fantasy achieved if only in video game form.
After picking a faction and creating a character, players are transported to a tutorial area where your first ‘contact’ will provide a few basic solo missions. As an enforcer I was dispatched to remove some graffiti from a wall and some other basic tasks before given the choice of entering one of three ‘action’ districts, or the ‘social’ district.
Action districts are instanced areas containing up to 100 players where missions or open world activities (such as witnessing crimes or committing them) can be completed. Grouping is handled automatically upon entering an action district, or you can manually join a group or even run missions on your own, although I highly recommend grouping. Sure you can complete things on your own, but there is a lot of fun to be had jumping into a vehicle with some friends and hanging out the windows showering your enemies with automatic fire!
Before long you will find yourself dispatched against enemy players to assault or defend locations, pick up and deliver evidence, raid criminal hideouts, and other various missions. For each successful mission you gain prestige and improved standing with local contacts unlocking clothing, weaponry, and vehicles. Prestige affects the number and threat level of the enemy players you will be matched against which I found to be an interesting way of matching players together.
If you don’t feel like taking part in combat, the social district is a PvP free area containing all the tools required for the huge level of customisation available in APB. Players can alter clothing, give vehicles a new lick of paint, or even change the physical look of their character such as hairstyle, body features etc. Player auctions can also be accessed here and there is a large selection of gear and weaponry to choose from.
So far despite a few niggling issues I’m having a lot of fun with APB. It’s refreshing to play an MMO (of sorts) that relies more on player skill than gear level to progress.
Stay tuned for my full APB Reloaded review.