All Points Bulletin (APB) features deep customization
By Eric Duncan for GameZone.com
Realtime Worlds’ APB has been a thing of interest for gamers for some time now. The concept of an MMO essentially based on Cops and Robbers was enough to make it one of the most anticipated MMOs in development. Early reports that it would eventually come out on the Xbox 360 as well as the PC didn’t hurt, either. At PAX East, the developer came prepared to show off the game to the public, and feature the customization, as well as giving some insight into how the basics will work.
Before even going into the gameplay, it’s worth mentioning that the game might be worth playing for the customization elements alone. By going up to a terminal, players can open up a decal creator that allows them to create obscenely detailed images. These can be sold in the game’s online marketplace, inked onto players’ chests, painted onto their cars, sown into their clothing, or sprayed onto walls.
Music is given a similar treatment, with an in-depth creation system that should let players replicate an instrumental version of any song they can think of. These have multiple uses, from being played out of car stereos to the interesting concept of “Death Tunes” that play when one player kills another. It’s like a signature or business card left on the corpse of a fallen foe. They’ll come to fear the man wearing black and pink who uses the Rugrats theme when he kills opponents. The hope is that these elements will all tie together to make players more memorable to each other, playing up the idea of celebrity in the game. Already in the beta, players are coordinating their customization options to create gangs, a microcosm of actual society.
On that note, the “society” aspect of APB is paramount. The game’s two sides, Enforcers and Criminals, are constantly at war, with Criminals gaining points by committing crimes against civilians and Enforcers waiting for a literal A.P.B. to start a mission. If a group of Criminals are seen mugging innocents, Enforcers are sent to the scene, with the winner walking away as the victor of the mission. If the Criminals wipe out their would-be dispatchers, more are sent, in a play on the Grand Theft Auto style of law enforcement. The bigger the crimes, the tougher the foes, the larger the A.P.B. that’s sent out. With hundreds of players occupying the same city, it should mean massive battles in the streets when the game releases later this year.
All of this is meaningless if the combat isn’t interesting. In the past, many developers have tried to create massively multiplayer online shooters, and it’s proven more difficult than anticipated. Too often, developers try and focus on the RPG in MMORPG, which simply doesn’t fit with gunplay. With APB, it’s a straight-up shooter, something the developers were quick to explain when they showed off the combat. It isn’t an RPG by any means; when the weapons are drawn and the bullets start flying, APB really does play like a shooter, instantly placing it as more impressive than its contemporaries. Being able to jump into vehicles also helps separate it from other MMO games, creating more of an action-packed experience.
Realtime Worlds has spent a long time with APB. Their work on the title is finally coming to a close, however, as the game’s release date rapidly approaches. All in all, the game looks to be a heavy hitter, and should end up being one of the more entertaining MMO releases in 2010.