APB Review Embargo Set Week After Release

By John Walker on June 17th, 2010 at 1:00 pm.

Two naive customers unaware of the game's state, yesterday.

Review embargoes are a very normal part of games journalism. Companies will put restrictions on when publications are allowed to talk about games before they’re released. For previews this is done to control the dissemination of information. For reviews it’s to allow certain publications to have an exclusive, or more muckily, because they don’t want negative reviews to appear too much in advance of the game’s release. It’s potentially murky territory, but since it’s their game, they get to choose the conditions in which they make them available to magazines and websites before commercial release. It’s not unusual for everyone to be told, “Reviews of game X may be published at 5pm on the 26th”, and then you’ll see all the sites have their reviews appear at once.

What’s far more rare is a company attempting to control the publications of reviews after a game has been released. Especially not ten days after. This is what Realtime Worlds are astonishingly trying to enforce for APB.

The response to the closed beta has not been positive. Once the NDA was lifted (and in many cases well before) many players have reported that the customisation is extraordinary, but the driving and shooting are both poor. Which is an issue in a driving and shooting game. I’ve not played a single second of APB, and thus have no opinions on it either way, and am not in a position to break any form of NDA or embargo. But the impression I’ve picked up is negative. RTW could perhaps have picked up a similar vibe.

In such circumstances you might expect a developer to embargo reviews until the moment of release. The game goes live in the States on the 29th June, let’s say at 9am. So reviews might normally all appear at 9am on the 29th. So as expected, on 4th June, an email accompanying the Key To The City event details from PR agency Indigo Pearl, working for RTW, explained that the beta code is reviewable, with an embargo for the 29th June. Exactly as we’d expected.

But then on the 10th June, two days before the Key To The City open beta began, the a correction was sent out. We were informed that the Key To The City was in fact for previews only. We were told that reviews can be “finalised” when we have the released version of the game, which we’d get on 29th June. And then they added that reviews are embargoed until 6th July.

This is extraordinary. They are attempting to tell press that they cannot write a review of the game for a full week after the game is available for the public to buy.

It is, of course, impossible to enforce. The public will be able to write anything they wish about the game anywhere they wish from the very first second it’s available. Of course. Because to prevent this would, well, involve Realtime Worlds taking over the planet and beginning an international oppressive dictatorship. And while they’re certainly an ambitious developer, this is perhaps beyond their realm. So of course the gaming press can equally write about a released game whenever they choose, and a company attempting to prevent this is ludicrous and unenforceable.

So what’s the argument from their side? Well, we approached Indigo Pearl to ask for a comment from Realtime Worlds, and were promised one would be coming. That was a week ago and we’ve heard nothing. So we can but suppose:

MMO developers are incredibly sensitive about the amount of time a game is played for before reviews are written. It’s becoming increasingly common for negative or even average review scores to be met by the developer/publisher going into the reviewer’s account logs and publicising how much time they spent playing the game. Now, this is arguably simply imposing accountability on the reviewer, and is a discussion for another time. But in imposing a week’s embargo on reviews, they may perhaps be attempting to ensure that no reviews of the fully released code go up before they think a fair opinion might reasonably have been formed.

It’s reasonable for a developer to say that a review cannot be based on beta code, and to play in a beta you do agree to certain conditions. Most developers, by open beta stage, agree that it is suitable to be reviewed from, since it’s extremely unlikely it will be dramatically different from the boxed, released code that appears a couple of weeks later. Open betas are more about stress-testing servers than fixing the game in time for release. But there’s no reason why RTW shouldn’t refuse this. So perhaps in imposing their week late restriction they believe they’re ensuring fair reviews of finished code.

Or perhaps they’re trying to prevent reviews from appearing during the peak week for sales. Which, if the game proves to be poor, would certainly be to their advantage. If this is their reason, then they are attempting to silence criticism of their commercially released product, preventing consumers from receiving appropriate purchasing advice.

Whatever their reason is, they’ve crossed a very obvious, very ridiculous line. When anyone anywhere can post a review to their blog, a comments thread, or a site’s reader reviews section, it’s beyond daft to think that the site itself cannot.

Yes, it’s impossible to entirely separate this argument from that of for how long an MMO should be played for before publishing a review. But this is not a decision for publishers/developers to make. And certainly not one they can enforce.

But it’s one they’re still trying to. Today journalists received keys for the current open beta directly from Realtime Worlds, which were accompanied by this message:

“Please note that there is no embargo for preview coverage and you will be able to post screenshots from the game to support this.

Before finalising reviews, we want you to experience the full, rich experience of APB as it is meant to be seen. We want you to see wild customer customisations, player progression and clans making an impact on the living breathing city of San Paro. This key code also therefore grants you, along with our pre-order customers, VIP early access before the official launch day. June 26th in North America and June 28th in Europe.

The review embargo is Tuesday, 6th July at 8am UK time.”

It’s now, incredibly, ten days after the game is available to the public before reviews are “allowed” to be published.

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304 Comments »

  1. mrmud says:

    Probably because the game plays like shit.
    Dont get me wrong, I think the customisability options are fantastic and in some respects it would almost be worth it to buy the game for that alone (but its not, because they have linked the options you have in customisation to your in game progress). But the game itself is still terrible.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      Yeah, this, pretty much. It’s not very much fun to play.

    • Sagan says:

      I wouldn’t call it terrible. I had fun playing it. It had some problems, but they were never enough to make me want to stop playing.

    • Sweedums says:

      yeah i enjoyed the beta…. for the first hour or so, until the whole process got very repetetive and somewhat dull.

      out of curiosity, what happens if a site like RPS breaks an embargo? is it a legal issue or just a trust issue?

    • mrmud says:

      Its entierly a trust issue.
      What happens is that sites that break embargoes may stop getting review code and invites to events.

      But i seriously doubt any of that would happen to any publication/site that published a review after the game had gone live.

    • monkeybreadman says:

      This in itself is a review of sorts…. a bad one

    • RodeoClown says:

      Couldn’t any review site *cough*RPS*cough* just not use their pre-release key and buy the game first thing on the day of release and run a super quick review before anyone else was able to?

    • Tauron Xavenberg says:

      I honestly don’t know what to say. I mean, personally the only way I’ve ever interpreted something like this is because a company knows they’re selling a crappy product, and don’t want people to know.

      YET I was there in KTTC, played the game like crazy, and it was frigging awesome! There were no serious bugs that I encountered, and few otherwise noticeable ones at all. The driving certainly took an hour or two of getting used to but beyond that it was good. But the multiplayer missions, shootouts and car chases were just frigging spectacular. So I really don’t know what to say? And of course, it doesn’t even need to be said that the customization for character, car, music etc is beyond anything the world has ever seen by far.

      How can a game that feels more fun than I’ve had in such a long while, seem to get so much negative feedback? Honestly, I just don’t know. Right now, I’m not worried that I won’t have a great game. I know I will. But I’m worried that people won’t get it because of so much pointless negative feedback, and that will affect the online world. I just don’t understand why? I mean, I like TF2, BF2, CSS, GTA, WoW, all the usual mass-products that practically everyone else loves as well. So why do I love this one, but others don’t? What’s supposed to be wrong with it?

    • rdrcheats says:

      There are moments in APB where I found my heart pounding out of my chest, beating faster than my assault rifle could empty ammunition. APB’s San Paro is a online city where the criminals fight the police on the streets, both sides player-controlled.
      iPhone App Development Services

  2. greg wild says:

    Are they placing a wot I fink embargo?

    • Mr_Day says:

      No, but they are implementing a new type of language which should, if all goes well, eliminate the ability for anyone to say something negative about APB.

      How can you have bad thoughts if you can’t express them, eh?

    • Sweedums says:

      my telescreen is telling me APB is plusgood

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Thoughtcrime, Mr Day; thoughtcrime. I think it’s off to the Oppressive Dictatorship School again for you, as you seem to need a refresher course on 1984. :P

    • Mr_Day says:

      Aww, man. I hate OPS. I swear, Professor Hitler has it in for me.

      And he has a gas chamber. And he doesn’t do science.

      I can keep going with that. Should I keep going with that? I’ll stop.

    • Mr_Day says:

      Er, ODS. I miss you, edit function. Why did you leave me?

    • MrPyro says:

      A comment thread on 1984 in which you cannot revise history.

      Not sure if that’s a win or a fail.

    • realmenhuntinpacks says:

      Orwell ZING!

    • Bret says:

      It’s to show that all of RPS is opposed to futuristic dystopias, and not just Gillen.

      Might be a bit overboard, really.

    • dethgar says:

      It’s 2010, where’s my goddamn Speakwrite and Versificator?

  3. Meat Circus says:

    Well, I’m not embargoed, and I can say that the impression you’ve picked up from other people (great customization, dated shooting and godawful vehicle handling) are absolutely correct.

    Trying to use embargoes to hide the fact that APB is absolutely nowhere near good enough for release is absolutely shameful.

  4. Antsy says:

    Surely this speaks volumes about the confidence Realtime Worlds has in their game. APB has gone from something quite exciting to a game that’s suffered one compromise after another in its development.

    My final flicker of of interest has been extinguished.

  5. Jhoosier says:

    As a knee-jerk reaction I’d say if a company tries to embargo their game until AFTER release, then the game’s not worth buying so I’ll skip it.

  6. Out Reach says:

    combined with the ridiculous payment structure this is just another sign to me that APB will be terrible. I’m avoiding it like the plague.

  7. Freudian Trip says:

    It’s not very good and sounds like a Publisher desperately scrambling to avoid a large number of 5/10s

  8. MrCraigL says:

    Is RPS going to be honouring the embargo with it’s Wot I think?

    • qrter says:

      Is any self-respecting gamingsite going to follow this embargo?

      There comes a point where you have to show a bit of backbone and push back, surely.

    • MrCraigL says:

      Some places have to be careful who they piss off – at the end of the day if you’re funded by advertising, ignoring an embargo date could well cost you income.

    • jsdn says:

      A game review site not writing reviews hurts income more.

    • Tacroy says:

      Lewie P has already posted his review. It’s probably one of the best I’ve seen.

  9. TotalBiscuit says:

    Well on one hand it’s a perfect opportunity for bloggers and those of us not deemed worthy of receiving review code to drive great traffic to our sites, whoop!

    On a less selfish note however, I’m surprised more MMO creators haven’t tried to enforce this. MMOs so very often fall flat on their face at launch due to all manner of problems. Server instability becomes part of many reviews and affects the score, consumers are naturally wary of new MMO launches since they are more often than not, bad. I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to ask a reviewer to spend some time with the game and get to know it before delivering their damning verdict, particularly since many reviews are haphazard, slap-dash and based on too short a time spent with the title (see IGNs review of God Hand, almost everything Gamespot has written that didn’t involved the current Giant Bomb crew, every non-firstparty review from an official console magazine, etc etc).

    That said, to believe that a reviewer will spend 40 hours with a title instead of say 10 or 20, just because there’s an embargo is ridiculous. The reviews will be sitting there gathering dust until the embargo is lifted and in the meantime, bloggers with nothing to lose (rebels without a cause) will be putting out damning reviews of what has so far been shown to be a giant, expensive waste of time that needs more work before release. If RTW is attempting to control the message, all they’re really succeeding in doing is giving the other 98% of reviewers who don’t qualify for their press list a carte blanche to trash their game in front of an unusually large audience. Personally, I’m salivating at the potential ad revenue, but I do hope they manage to improve what is a very promising but currently extremely flawed title.

  10. Bantros says:

    Well, I have to say the driving and shooting are poor and I played for a few weeks. Having played recent 3rd person games with actual cover mechanics and decent shooting ie. Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 2, APB is like playing something from 5 years ago. Graphics aren’t that great although I think they were locked to Medium for the beta and the lag was terrible at times.

    I have to say I was disappointed as I was looking forward to the game for quite some time. Great idea, bad execution it seems. Unfortunate

  11. Songbearer says:

    Oh god. As someone who has over 100 hours clocked in closed beta and have had this game preordered for a while, I love this game and know that lots of people have had problems with it and RTW have picked up a lot of flak for its flaws, but this is just (Forgive the expression) retarded.

    It shows just how much faith they have in their product despite all their talk of supporting it after launch. People’s faith in RTW is already low, it’s like they’re actively trying to hurt themselves.

    • Meat Circus says:

      But the game only has around five hours of content. How have you managed this?

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Meat Circus, by that same logic, TF2 has about 5 hours of content, since y’know, you have to repeat maps and objectives.

    • Sagan says:

      @ Meat Circus:
      I have heard that Counter Strike has only about five hours of content. Even worse, DotA has only one hour’s worth of content. Yet they became two of the most played games on the web.

    • Meat Circus says:

      But games like these are infinitely varied, and have enormous numbers of combinations of ways to play.

      The APB beta, there were about three cookie cutter missions, and everybody plays them exactly the same every time, down to using the same two guns.

      I wish APB had the depth of TF2. Give it a year of extra development, it might grow some depths. But it#s got nothing right now.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Meat Circus

      The more you talk, the more clear it becomes that you’ve really little if any understanding of the game.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Yeah, what do I know? I’ve only played the fucking thing.

      Kadayi, why not try addressing some of the criticisms of the game head-on? I’m not the only one making them.

    • Chris D says:

      Ok, I’ll get some popcorn…

    • Kadayi says:

      @Meat Circus

      You ‘think’ you’ve played it. But from where I’m standing as someone whose been in the test since October, it’s clear you haven’t esp with dumb comments like ’5 hours content’.

    • user@example.com says:

      Kadayi: Yeah, Meat only thinks he’s played It because he’s sat there facerolling and staring blindly at the login screen, he hasn’t actually experienced Its true transcendent glory. I bet he hasn’t actually managed to log in yet, and clearly hasn’t created a character and played even a single mission. If he would only accept APB into his heart and be recognise Its love for him, and for us all, he would truly be saved.

      Alternatively, you’re coming off as a bit of a cultist, which doesn’t give a very good impression of the game’s fans.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      Having played seven hours of it (according to the in-game-o-meter):

      It’s an okay third-person shooter.

      Not amazing, not genre-redefining, but I’ve still had some fun with it. (Hurtling through the streets in a small convoy, sirens blaring, lights flashing… driving straight at a higher-level enemy player pouring rifle fire at us from behind cover and using it as a ramp to fly straight to the drop-off point, clipping his head off in the process…)

      Certainly not going to buy it, though. Especially not after this.

    • Kadayi says:

      @user@example.com

      A cultist? Hardly. APB has its issues (like all games), but nothing that’s insurmountable. In fact the devs have been very good at responding to intelligent feedback all through the beta and acting upon it, and I don’t think that is likely to change as a policy come release. Fact of the matter is though, even if you looked at the game in the most moronic & myopic way, there’s still way more than 5 hours content to it. If someone promotes a fiction as fact, is it unreasonable to bring them to account?

    • DrazharLn says:

      Having played the game for some 15 hours or so, I can say that I’ve had a lot of fun. The missions were a bit disappointing in that I would have preferred much more player control (say, player controlled factions dictating hit targets across the city to gather cash and buy sweet loot for their followers), but the missions are fun enough and it really is fun to have enforces chasing you or to chase criminals (I’ve played both).

      The only times I haven’t enjoyed the game have been when there has been lag (making driving and shooting impossible, though this can be remedied by moving to a server with fewer players), those deathmatch style end missions and when playing on my own.

      I’d say it’s a fun game. Given a bit more work in the missions and gunplay departments and it’ll be very good. If they remake the faction system to be player controlled then it could become my favourite game.

      Oh yeah, and more variety in the animations. Everyone stands exactly the same way, regardless of gender and if you’re not holding a gun there are no idle animations.

      A cover system would be good too, almost all combat is done from behind cover of some kind as weapons are quite lethal and snap to cover would be much better and more immersive than running up to a wall, aiming into the wall (watch your gun clip through the wall here) then leaning and slowly shuffling sideways.

      It would also help the problems where you end up shooting the wall because you didn’t get the angle quite right (hard to do in third person).

  12. Chris D says:

    It’s not actually a review if you don’t give it a score, right?

    • LintMan says:

      @Chris D:
      Exactly. All the review sites should release “In depth previews” explaining the embargo situation and saying exactly what they think, and when the embargo ends, just change the title to say “In depth review”, and tack the score on the end. That’s the Passive-Agressive solution.

      Better would be if all the review sites got together and as a whole decided to break the embargo. They’d all still end up on RTW’s shite list, but the games industry as a whole woudn’t be able to blackball all the sites for not honoring embargoes.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Sure they could. And you know the only games journalist that wouldn’t do the embargo and thus be the only one left?

      Dave Tosser.

  13. Alex says:

    My biggest issue with the beta was the performance – character customization looked amazing, but once I got on the server, the graphics looked very poor, and things were so choppy I couldn’t aim or drive. I didn’t play very much, but what I did was pretty frustrating. This was for the NA beta, the EU beta was even worse for me.
    The game is a very cool idea, though, and I really enjoyed messing with the character creator.

  14. lhzr says:

    hah, good thing i didn’t bother downloading the beta, then.

  15. Synoptase says:

    Well, i’ve been playing APB about 12h and i’ve been having a lot of fun. Sure, there are bugs, content seems to be a little short. Still, i find this game attractive and very enjoyable. The driving looks a bit fishy at a first glance, but once you get past the odd camera postionning, it’s fun. Shooting is not bad too, it’s pretty accurate and dynamic.

    I’ve also beta played global agenda (GA) and it’s nothing compared to APB. GA is really slow, it feels squishy if you know what i mean… APB is quite punchy, it feels right. Let’s just hope that content will be furtherly pushed and the game will get all the attention it deserves.

    Cheers

    • mrmud says:

      Difference being that GA actually has varied gameplay.
      Not that I think GA is fantastic or anything but at least it held my interest for 15 hours or so.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I didn’t really get Global Agenda. The interface was one of the worst things ever devised, the combat was laggy as hell with no feedback on opponents or locally, and the entire gameplay model seems to revolve around AoE spam. It had a couple of PvP modes which were interesting and a bunch of utterly appalling PvE modes which frankly should’ve been shitcanned well before release, and the global PvP was an incomprehensible mess.

      So yeah, about 3 hours.

  16. ShaunCG says:

    I found that the shooting was not entirely awful, but the driving was almost comical with players slamming into one another every 30 seconds simply because the steering is so clumsy and laggy.

    I enjoyed the game and would have been willing to give it a try, but this embargo does disincline me from chancing it on release. I’ll wait until after the embargo is lifted to decide.

  17. DanPryce says:

    Well they can wait ten days for my cash then.

  18. cliffski says:

    Jesus christ I’m surprised this isn’t a 500 comment thread full of hatred and death threats, because that’s how shit like this makes me feel.
    Attention all big website reviewers, if you are twiddling your thumbs because the developers of this overhyped demo-less pile of shit won’t let you even try their game, email me at cliff@positech.co.uk and I’ll send you free review copies of every game I’ve ever made, with absolutely zero expectations in return.

    I’m quite happy to make a game, and live or die by how much people enjoy it. It seems developers and publishers who churn out lower quality games feel the need to stoop to shit like this to try and paper over the mess of their games launch.

    I’d love to know if any big name sites refuse to cover the game on principle.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      “I’m surprised this isn’t a 500 comment thread full of hatred and death ”

      Give it time, I suspect.

      KG

    • Metalfish says:

      Oh, Cliffski, don’t ever change.

    • tekDragon says:

      yeah seriously, people in the west are just waking up.

    • mrmud says:

      Im not foaming at the mouth because I believe (hope) that review sites will ignore the imbargo since it is so ludicrous.

      Should they not ignore it… well then it’s another story all together.

    • tekDragon says:

      Also… this is so ridiculous, and so unlikely to happen, that it’s almost not worth the bile. Are published seriously considering obeying this comedic restriction?

      Also… if there ever was an indication that a game was going to be a terrible mess at launch there you have it. “hello foot! have you seen this great new gun I just got?”

    • Meat Circus says:

      Don’t worry, Cliffski. This seems to be building to a full-on nerd rage quite nicely.

      What may undermine it somewhat is that most of us played the Keys to the City event and experienced APB’s cackiness first hand.

    • The Innocent says:

      Hey, I’m really just posting to fulfill Cliffski’s request:

      I hate this shit. You gonna DIE Realtime Worlds. You gonna die.

      (Beyond the facetiousness, I really am rather pissed at the gall of the issue).

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Man, I really wish you made games I’d play, Cliffski. Then I could give you all my money dollars.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Yes, make games I like for a change.

      PS: I like abattoirs.

    • ascagnel says:

      I wouldn’t say its demo-less (the current “Keys to the City” “beta” event is really a pre-release demo), but it doesn’t excuse trying to hold off on the reviews.

      If RTW had instead come out and said “Hey, can you give us a few days so we can get all the launch problems squared away before you review,” I think they might have gotten a lot less flack. I’ve seen reviews of MMOs years after they launched where they were dinged a point in the review for a shaky launch, and that isn’t necessarily fair.

      This whole situation reminds me of when a movie production company doesn’t screen a movie for critics — they know it’ll be shit, so if they hold off on the reviews, they might get a few more people to see it.

  19. Yfel says:

    We should all be demanding demos for every game entered into the stream of commerce so we can make up our own minds. Too many games and especially MMOs turn out to be very disappointing when compared to the hype and developer promises that precede it.
    Embargo-moves like this appear to portray an intent to not only withhold from us the opportunity to judge the actual product for suitability for purchase, but to withhold any form of counterweight to their marketing.

    If they’re so sure it takes 10 full days to see the real value their game has to offer, consumers should not need to pay for those first 10 days, before making up their mind.

    • The Innocent says:

      “If they’re so sure it takes 10 full days to see the real value their game has to offer, consumers should not need to pay for those first 10 days, before making up their mind.”

      This.

      Also, if they’re confident that things pick up once there are more than three guns available and my character has stuff unlocked beyond a sweatshirt and exercise pants, then they should make more items unlocked from the start. Granted, everyone in the game I played had the same stuff so it wasn’t too imbalanced (other than singular random higher-prestige people showing up and owning with their three-upgrade-slotted super-rifles), but it sure was boring. I had some huge fat wad of cash from missions and nothing to spend it on. Maybe I was just doing really poorly and not building my prestige as quickly as I ought to have been.

  20. Vague-rant says:

    Driving didn’t feel that bad to be honest. Sure it wasn’t great but if you were careful with the brake you could do alright. The shooting was much worse, which was a much greater crime in my opinion.

    Very suspicious embargo though.

  21. TooNu says:

    Idiots and their crappy games.

  22. Metalfish says:

    I have to say, the customisation options are indeed excellent. I’ve happily infringed a copyright or two. The shooting and driving are bit unsatisfying to say the least, however. Plus it is looking increasingly like this’ll be a game where a large wallet (IRL) means you’ll be that much deadlier a lot quicker.

  23. toni says:

    i think this sucks just like the game does. I can see ppl loving it but for me it’s just a muddled mess of nothing and forcing reporters in embargoes while the rest of the internet is getting ready for the next big thing is just stupid. even bad publicity is a publicity. And I’m sure there are enough fanboys from GTA around that like senseless shooting without any depth.

    • Clovis says:

      I’m a really big GTA fan, but the few hours of APB I played was horrible. I don’t see how it has anything in common with GTA at all.

      It did manage make cars handle worse than GTA somehow.

  24. Bowlby says:

    Unless this embargo is legally enforcible, I can see at least one major website/publication breaking with it on the day of release. And once that happens, I can imagine most other websites doing the same.

    In addition, they’ve just generated more bad PR for a game which already has a lot of scepticism surrounding it. GG, Indigo Pearl.

  25. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    I really wonder how “establishment” review sites will respond to this. It’s a ludicrous demand and in the very spirit of journalism to defy it.

  26. Erlend Grefsrud says:

    Well, judging by the closed beta, the game is fundamentally broken beyond repair. Of course, that was some time ago, so they could have fixed a whole lot of their problems, but I don’t think that duff driving model, the loose shooting and the mediocre, plasticky graphics could realistically be fixed in less than a year.

    Plus, the customization interface is possibly the worst mess I have ever seen. It’s as if no-one thought about how a user might want to use an interface for sculpting and applying decals. It’s hands-down the most awful piece of interface design I have ever seen (at least it was last year), and I laughed out loud several times while using it. It’s like Bethesda and EA’s terribly inept customization interfaces made a hell of a lot worse.

    Incredible that they didn’t put more thought into the thing considering it’s their main sales point. I hope this all turns out for the best, there’s a lot of great people working at Real Time Worlds, and it would be an awful shame if their product failed.

  27. Bossman says:

    The embargo does make sense because the servers don’t open until 3 days before the official release date and I’m pretty sure that reviewers won’t be able to play the game enough in just 3 days to write a review. Sure, they did have access to the previous beta even but that only had a very limited amount of playtime so nobody could really see how all the hgh level stuff works.

    • Archonsod says:

      It doesn’t matter how fantastic the high level stuff happens to be if playing the game becomes a chore after the first hour.

  28. Tei says:

    A embargo make sense to me, if the game is about to suffer a huge change.
    But I don’t think APB will get that.

    Anyway is something betwen the journos and the devs.

    • P7uen says:

      And, possibly, a few people who might read the journos opinions of the devs’ work.

      Maybe.

  29. Chris D says:

    It’s ironic that this thread now contains a dozen mini reviews within half an hour of posting.

  30. Kadayi says:

    I’d imagine that they are probably setting this out as they don’t want reviews based off of the Beta code, but rather off the actual genuine retail game experience, which makes sense tbh. The present KttC client is not the same build as the latest closed client for example (I can’t say more than that unfortunately).

    As regards the naysayers, haters going to hate it seems. Personally I’ve had a blast through the beta, principally because I’ve grouped up with players and not tried to treat it like a simple player game, or attempt to judge it against them.

    • poop says:

      the major design flaws and terrible bullshit pricing in APB aren’t going to be magically fixed in the week between the prerelease promo and the game’s actual release

    • Kadayi says:

      @poop

      Care to elaborate? Or are you going to hide behind murky generalisations? Also if your issue is with paying for a persistent game world, then I fear you were always going to be disappointed.

    • IdleHands says:

      That still doesn’t make much sense to me, why bother sending out beta codes to reviewers to play and well review but not want them to write a review on it. Why not just send out a PR piece to journalists saying they won’t get beta codes as they feel the game would change far too much all the up till release and even afterwards, so journalists will have to play the retail version.

    • poop says:

      okay.

      the combat being awkwardly balanced and unfun with terrible design issues like cover that doesn’t protect the top of your head and a lack of locational damage is not going to be fixed in the time between beta and release.

      the missions are terrible and unfun, espcecially the really common escape mission which is one of the few missions in a game that I have ever seen that are equally imbalanced and terrible to play for both factions

      that and the shitty netcode that makes driving intolerable for about 2/3rds of players combined with the stupid pricing scheme means that the game will probably not live long enough for any of the issues to even be fixed, I am holding out hope for this game to be fun in a year from now but chances are it really wont.

    • The Innocent says:

      @Kadayi

      Right up front I’ll tell you I’m not trolling. This is a sincere question. But since you seem like the APB apologist here, instead of making people explain why they think the game stinks, could you explain to me what’s redemptive about it?

    • Kadayi says:

      @The Innocent

      I think Jockie sums it up nicely on the next page, I’d direct you there for an explanation. Is it perfect? Not at all. Is it as bad/terrible/the abomination some people purport here? Not really. A lot really depends on the type of gamer that you are. If you are really into solo play and can’t handle the idea of speaking to people, APB is not going to be the game for you (a headset is pretty much essential). If however you like cooperative team based games where you’re pitting your wits against others then it’s well worth a look see. Most of the opinions you are getting here are from people who seem to fall into the former camp rather than the latter.

    • poop says:

      every game is fun with friends though, I am glad that you have a really cool group of people that you play games with but that doesnt really mean that APB is actually good

    • Kadayi says:

      @poop

      It’s a team based PvP multi-player game, to try and assess it outside of that context is foolhardy. In fact grouping up, making friends, forming clans & pursuing rewards are all part of the game. MMOs are all about interaction with others at the end of the day.

  31. Songbearer says:

    @Meat Circus
    Playing with friends transforms this game. Hell, playing in any random group can make this game a ton of fun providing they’re all up for a bit of screwing around.

    I’m a sucker for customisation and just seeing what my team makes keeps me playing the game, I’ve seen some incredibly impressive stuff. The combat I’ve gotten used to at this point as well.

    It’s flawed and a few months of solid work would make this game into something incredible. It’s a shame that the creators don’t actually seem to believe this themselves.

    • Meat Circus says:

      It is a shame.

      APB has that most unreliable of MMO assets in abundance, “Potential”. There’s a framework for something marvellous here, but what they’re putting on DVDs in shops most certainly ain’t it.

      Things it needs:

      Vehicle hadling that doesn’t feel like you’re piloting the QE2.
      A cover system. Seriously, guys. It’s not 2005 any more.
      More, and varied mission types.
      More and varied weapon types.
      A range of different combat classes you can ‘fit out’ your character with. If you’re stuck for ideas, just steal all of Team Fortress 2′s.

    • KindredPhantom says:

      @Meat Circus

      The vehicles handling is a bit off, i agree with you there but it isn’t that bad.

      I don’t know why APB would have a cover system, it is a multi-player game and a cover system although making sense may be more of a hindrance than a help. Also, what other online games have cover systems? I can only think of Rainbow Six Vegas which is an multi-player FPS and not an MMO.

      Again, i agree that the missions may be a little repetitive, but then that can and does happen in any MMO or multi-player FPS.

      Why does it need combat classes? it is am MMO with a third person view point not some multi-player FPS. There are plenty of weapons in APB, their is enough variety in the weapons.

    • Tei says:

      APB as a cover system, but is very shitty, keys Q and E.

    • KindredPhantom says:

      @Tei

      They are lean keys, a cover system is where your character can attach themselves to something which acts as cover.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Playing *any* game with friends transforms it.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I quite like what I’ve played and have no fear of internet rage, so I’ll play devil’s advocate for a bit.

      The vehicle handling: becomes a lot easier once you realise you are meant to handbrake turn every corner. Its that kind of game, people, and I quite like that.

      The shooting: Isn’t meant to be twitch gunplay, or perfectly precise. On a server with 80 people, locational damage just isn’t going to cut the mustard – you can’t do that kind of thing reliably with that many players. RTW decided to do things a bit differently, so combat is about positioning. You’ll pretty much never be able to shoot someone out from behind cover, but find some way around them while a teammate pins them down and the kills will fall into your lap.

      The cover: Not really sure what the complaint is, here. Just tap C to crouch, seems to work fine for me.

      The content: There’s a fair amount of missions, but really they’re just an excuse to fight people while in a city following various objectives. There’s also a very extensive level of aesthetic customisation and a fairly extensive level of gameplay customization, along with bounty missions and the like, but its largely made with an eye towards spontaneity rather than persistence – your ‘threat level’ persists, and give you access to new guns and vehicles etc, but your ‘infamy’ (+whatever it is for the enforcers) is reset every time you log out, and builds as you kill other players and complete missions. That’s what the game is, in terms of content. Don’t go in expecting to collect 10 Chav Pelts.

      As for the review embargo, perhaps they just don’t want reviewers playing 3 hours of the inevitably laggy-as-tits launch and giving the game a bad mark because of it. I can’t recall any MMO of any form that hasn’t had a shitty launch, so it seems reasonable to me. But doubtless there’ll be another 400 responses to this very comments thread that go something along the lines of “This is wrong! We must get the word out to the people so that they will know how good a video game is! We will never be silenced!”

    • Kadayi says:

      @Lilliput King

      Yeah. Threads like this remind me of this joke:-

      How many conspiracy theorists does it take to change a light bulb?

      Two. One to change it, and then the other to find out who really changed it.

      It simply can’t be a case of RTW wanting to ensure that the reviewers give them a fair crack of the whip based on the complete experience, it has to be more than that, and undoubtedly it’s because they are hiding something.

      You’d think with E3 on in full swing that John Walker would have more important things to write about, but apparently taking mock offence at a UK based developers review schedule was more pressing.

      Sometimes a smile is just a smile.

  32. Dominic White says:

    Echoing what a lot of others have said – I played the beta, and was horribly dissapointed. Mainly with performance, but the gunplay was just awkward. People say it’s outdated, but that’s not even the problem. There are first-gen PS2 games with more convincing gunplay than this. It doesn’t feel right at all. The weapons feel simultaneously overpowered and weak, and the vehicles seem far too bound to network stability in their handling.

    Crackdown was great, if a little under-baked. What the hell happened here? The embargo is bullshit on an earthshattering scale, and I honestly hope that at least one major site makes a stand and releases a review – likely a scathing one – early.

  33. Godl1keStev3 says:

    The alternative possiblity is they dont want reviewers to play for an hour and the bitch about how rubbish the tutorial is, and how bad the starter weapons are.

    For the first hour, the game is terrible. I mean REALLY bad, your guns are cack, you get ‘naded from all sides and have none to retaliate with… its bad. Until you get the next rifle which is… just as bad as the first, but fires slightly faster.

    Rank 10 is where it all turned around for me, I got my first SMG, grenades were abundant, and it all kind of came together. I was getting kills, I was actually winning occasionally.

    The game is fun. I was utterly unimpressed by the closed beta, and firing it back up this time was a chore, but I havent played TF2 for three days now… that must mean something.

    Just a devils advocate thought, I mean, they are shooting themselves in the foot with this one, whatever the reason. But it does kind of make sense.

    • cliffski says:

      Life is way way way too short for me to spend 10 seconds on a game on the promise that it gets better after level 10.

    • P7uen says:

      It’s not ‘alternative’, its the first reason John mentioned.

      Don’t ever cross John again or his posse will get you.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Godl1keStev3

      Spot on tbh.

      @Cliffski

      Because putting effort in to a Multi-player game is so much effort yes?

    • Jockie says:

      My guess would be along these lines, a lot of the negative feedback is along the lines of “I played for 1-2 hours and the guns were rubbish and I got beat a lot, and the cars drive like tanks”. Having sunk in well over 100+ hours into the beta, I didn’t do so because of a faint promise that things will get better.

      I did so because it’s a skill based game, which I took the time to learn, improve my skills in and progressed naturally whilst having a great time. Someone spending the first hour in ANY multiplayer game, you might come away with a certain feeling that the game isn’t great, not because the game is poorly designed, but because multiplayer games are different from single player experiences and to understand the foibles and depth it takes more than the first hour or so of play.

      Most people who’ve spent a lot of time in the beta will tell you the cars don’t handle poorly, it’s just a case of knowing how to corner using the brakes, handbrake, timing and other skills that you have to learn by playing. Perhaps RTW are a little bit cagey because of the negative commentary coming from the players who have broken the NDA or came down against the game, citing their minimal experience as evidence.

      All that said, I’m not entirely a RTW apologist, I think their pricing model is designed to maximise first month profits (50 hours out of the box will fly by for a lot of hard-core MMO players who will end up topping up their account well before the standard MMO free month is up).

      I can’t say I agree with RTW’s decision, but I can perhaps understand why they made it, this is a massive game for them (eggs in one basket perhaps).

    • mrmud says:

      I spent 10 hours or so with the beta (because I really wanted to like it) but it still plays like shit and the matchmaking is terrible.

      Also of course the people who have played 100 hours are going to say that they love the game, everyone else would have quit by then!

    • Jockie says:

      True enough Mr Mud, but I can only give my own opinion on the game, just because my experience of the game is not the same as yours doesn’t invalidate either of our feelings about it. I don’t see why someone who has played the game extensively should have his opinions on it written off on that basis.

    • mrmud says:

      Of course not. But its just as dangerous to claim that people who dont like the game just havent played enough of it

    • Jockie says:

      Fair enough, to clarify, I’m not saying that everyone who didn’t have a great experience of the game is because they’re a stupid head who didn’t play the game enough. I’m just saying a lot of the criticism I have seen is down to people failing to give the game a chance beyond their initial impressions and knee jerk reactions about it not being how they imagined it would be. There are people who’ve sunk plenty of time into the game and didn’t enjoy it, which is fair enough and I don’t entirely disagree with all the points they make in some cases.

    • Lambo says:

      @Jockie “Someone spending the first hour in ANY multiplayer game, you might come away with a certain feeling that the game isn’t great, not because the game is poorly designed, but because multiplayer games are different from single player experiences and to understand the foibles and depth it takes more than the first hour or so of play.”

      That, I’m afraid, is quite untrue. Some examples;
      Wow – the first hour in that is very well put together (Because of good design of the the players opening hours, something APB lacks)
      EVE online – although not as simple as more traditional mmo’s, the first hour is absolutely intriguing and, once you realize the scope of what you can achieve, incredibly inspiring. Good first few hours.
      Champions Online – Has a very decent first few hours and a tutorial which shows off pretty much ALL the game has to offer in a quite decent way, making the player feel powerful and making them enjoy themselves. (Very good design there too)

      Those are the games which are of the closest genre to this, none of which put down the player right off the bat because he lacks “skills”. However, I get the impression you aren’t thinking of actual subscription model large-massive multiplayer games, you were thinking of something like CS:S or TF2 or something, right?

      Yes, those games DO require you to build up the skills to do well. The thing is those games do that WELL. They also do not require you to PAY BY THE HOUR when you are actually locked, in the early game FORCED to use the mandatory BAD CONTENT against people with better weaponry/upgrades/skills when the actual using (IE The shooting/Driving) is SUB PAR. The shooting is just 2 guys spraying bullets at each other until either the the guy with the highest level gun or the most advantageous position (EG Standing behind the oponent) wins after wittleing his health down. There is no peripheral action or hook to it. Compare it directly to online GTA. That may seem similar but the action in that is leagues ahead of this. Those other shooting games of skill make the time when you are mandatoryily being beaten, interesting and quite often fun. You think “Damn I lost, at least I can learn to shoot and think as well as that soon enough, though”, while in APB its “Damn, I got out-sprayed again, maybe someday when I’ve been sprayed with more bullets in my general hit box , I’ll finially rank up and be able to spray at a 10% more efficient rate and the win 10% more of the time.

      And regarding your thing about learning to handle the cars, take this analogy. *Proving you can learn to ride a greased up, disobedient donkey does not prove that he is not a greased-up, disobedient donkey.*

      I could rant on like this but I don’t see anyone getting any more out of this.

    • Jockie says:

      You’re seriously using Eve as an example of a game that captivates in the first hour? The Eve tutorial is infamous, for being confused, overcomplicated and mindnumingly dull. It also shows absolutely nothing of the actual exciting parts of the game like 0sec, or PvP.

      Similarly, I’ve never subscribed to WoW, I’ve played the free trial and never got further because of the dull mindless mission grind of the first few hours, friends have told me that “It gets better at high levels”. But that’s not an excuse. Pressing 1,2,1,2,3,1,2 then running up to people with glowing question marks above their head is not my idea of ‘good design’.

      Regardless, I don’t think playing APB really compares to traditional MMO’s as much as it does shooters. Think of someone going for their first hour of CS (getting pwned and called a n00b), or BF:BC2 (“Why do everyone elses guns kill me so much quicker!!”), they’re good games and competitive multiplayer games that take a bit of time to get good at. APB is no different in that respect.

    • mrmud says:

      Comparing APB to shooters makes it seem even worse because the actual shooting is abyssmal compared to something like BFBC2 or even CS (which is like 10 years old, and was better at shooting in beta 1.0 than APB is now).

    • Lambo says:

      Jockie, If you are going to reply to this for the love of god actually read it.

      Maybe you did see what I wrote and simply were unable to address any of my points on shooting games, or maybe you just stupidly made the assumption that because you disagreed with my first few points, you wouldn’t bother reading the rest, while also assuming that you should put down your points and have me read them.

      Regarding EVE I did not say that the tutorial was good. Its passable (these days), but its nothing special at all. I said the first hour. I was very specific to say that. And if you are telling me that your first hour in EVE was less enjoyable or at least less intriguing than the hour in the tutorial server I would be truly surprised.

      Regarding wow. I mentioned how well put together it’s opening hour was for a mmo, as in, compared to how “well” designed the opening hour for apb is. You actually used the words “never got further because of the dull mindless mission grind of the first few hours” I’m sorry, but is or isn’t APB a game where you have about 2 alternating objectives in your missions? Run to a place and mindlessly spray bullets then hold down a button for 5 seconds OR run to another place and mindlessly spray bullets trying to stop the other guys from holding down a button for 5 seconds.

      If you really want to say WOW is “Pressing 1,2,1,2,3,1,2″ is there truly something wrong with you that you can’t use that logic of yours on APB “Hold Left click………. Hold Use……….Hold Left Click”
      See, anything sounds stupid when you abstract it.

      I don’t even particularly care about wow, have barely played it at all. but it occurs to me that your problem with something like wow isn’t the the the repeated pressing of buttons, but the abstractedness you see in the combat, the lack of feedback, the lack of guns maybe. You think you get that in APB? At least in wow-alikes you can get at least SOME visual feedback in what you do in combat, you can at least effect them in various ways, doing different types of damage, in APB it is literally click and wait for their hit-points to drop, then they fall over.

      Oh well.

    • Jockie says:

      I’ll admit I was a little bit too flabbergasted at your examples of good design in my focus on the reply you made to address the entirety of your post (although I agree that Champions Online shows everything good about the game very quickly, shame about the rest of it).

      But your post really doesn’t suggest to me you’ve played APB, more than a cursory glance. For starters ‘an hour in the tutorial district’. If you spent an hour on the five minute tutorial, that’s your issue not the games nor anybody elses, it even pops up with a box flashing to tell you can leave and actually play the game after you’ve done the simple introductory levels.

      For the 2 objectives thing, what APB does it takes classic shooter setups, and makes them into part of a dynamic persistant action game. It’s objectives are just masked game modes, so you have attack and defend, capture the flag, VIP, escape/chase, racing etc etc all encompassed in there. To say that it’s two objectives over and over is both ludicrous and ignorant of the action genre. CS has ONE game mode, BF:BC2 has 4, this has many more, randomised and made part of a persistant city, where the locales are changing constantly and strategies must be changed on the fly.

      To claim that combat constitutes holding down a button and spraying suggests you only got as far as using the OCA sub-machine gun and never got as far as grouping up with other players. This is a strategic game, the team who works together and understands the game is likely to win, but it’s never set in stone because in each match-up the opposition is different. As more weapons and vehicles and things like Less than Lethal (which can be unlocked by Enforcers after half an hour to an hours play) come into play, you have more strategic tools as your disposal. So you have players focusing on the snipers and long range, some will focus on CQC weapons like the subby and shotguns, some on vechicle destroyers like the LMG, when these things come together in a group it’s about balance, strategy, adapting to the objectives and adapting to your opposition. It’s not “click and wait for their hit-points to drop, then they fall over.” That’s a gross oversimplification.

      If you just used that turn of phrase to highlight my simplification of Wow, then fine, but Wow’s early level design is not tactical, it’s not dynamic, it’s not dependant on skill. It is literally pressing some buttons in a repetitive sequence, until you’ve proven that you’re willing to do so enough to be entrusted with another button to press.

      As for paying for a shooter, that’s for each customer to decide really. As much as I’d like it to be free forever and receive consistant updates, that’s not a viable strategy for a developer like RTW who have to pay their server costs (games that used dedicated servers, like CS and like BF:BC2 don’t have to worry about those), staff and continue to put out more content to keep their players happy. I see a subscription to an online game as an investment in the future of the game, sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t, but whose to say there won’t be a metagame later in APBs lifespan?

    • Kadayi says:

      @jockie

      “This is a strategic game, the team who works together and understands the game is likely to win, but it’s never set in stone because in each match-up the opposition is different.”

      Well put.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Kayadi you said:

      “@Cliffski

      Because putting effort in to a Multi-player game is so much effort yes?”

      I thought Gratuitous Space Battles was multi player?

    • Kadayi says:

      @DJ Phantoon

      Relevance to the statement?

  34. Anski says:

    If you think that APB is like GTA in the fact that there is “senseless shooting without any depth”, you haven’t played APB. I’m not trying to defend the game – people can think what they want of it, but it isn’t like you just walk down the street in APB shooting everyone. In fact, you can’t.

  35. Gary W says:

    If they extend embargoes to a year, we might get less of this:

    AAAA!! GOTY!! 11/10!! OSCAR WORTHY!! GAMING’S CITIZEN KANE!

    Fuck it, make that a century so I don’t have to read any mainstream games ‘journalism’ ever again.

  36. Smithereens says:

    @frightlever I would take anything Rory Cellan Jones writes with a mug of salt. Often Wrong Rory, he’s known as in tech journalism circles.

  37. Bob Bobson says:

    I think this is perfectly legally sound, the review code is the review code and comes with conditions. However, I see no reason why a reviewer can’t buy the release code and write a review based on that. Of course this means the first to go to print will be the one that is based on the fewest hours of game time, and as such will be least well rounded but most read. Almost as if review code was a useful thing for companies to give to reviewers or something….

    Maybe they think the income from various reviewers buying a release copy will put them ahead of forecasts for if reviews get to comment on day 0.

  38. IdleHands says:

    I’m hoping RPS on the day of release will do a post for APB called “Wot u think” and then allow the comment thread to review the game, they can try to silence journalists but can they silence their own customer opinions.

    • IdleHands says:

      True I’d prefer an official RPS review of this game, but if the company want to impose a ridicolous embargo on reviewers then I’d prefer RPS to stick their middle finger back up at them and either give it no more exposure or work around their embargo. I don’t know the legal consequences of breaking the insane embargo set or if they would lose trust from other companies, so I can’t expect RPS to be as rebelious to break the review embargo without knowing what consequences they face.

  39. Synoptase says:

    Varied gameplay isn’t what i saw when i tried. Maps are very repetitve, classes are dull and weapons are all look-alike. Let’s not mention the UI which is very, very disturbing, instrusive and not helpfull.

    I do agree that it held me 10h also.

  40. Mojo says:

    What exactly are the consequences of not following these “review embargoes”?

    • Kadayi says:

      Not getting access to preview events or review code etc, etc in future generally.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      By some assholes after the game is already released? Please.

      Oh no, you won’t get to review games by these guys with review code. But if we’ve learned anything, it’d be better to not get review code so you can review it day 1 without having a ridiculous embargo that says you can’t review it until it’s been out a week.

      Do you work for the people that made this game or what? Apologists rarely do so because they really love the game.

    • Kadayi says:

      @DJ

      Less Coffee, more sunshine maybe?

  41. poop says:

    if I was a game journo I would just release an incredibly scathing preview with a mysterious 3/10 score and then remove the P from the title after the embargo ends

  42. Flappybat says:

    RTW should have realized the word of mouth is a bad one and that the idea of pulling it together after release is never a good one. A six month delay for a Christmas release with big attention paid to adding gameplay, content and tuning the mechanics would have helped so much.

  43. Dan Lawrence says:

    It disturbs me that the PR company even thought this Stalinist attempt to control the message might be acceptable behaviour. It’s as if they have gotten so used to dictating terms to journalists that they believed any terms at all would just be accepted blindly by their grateful subjects.

    If this gets swallowed start expecting them to just email out the approved review score for each publication to give. The text of course will be left to the ‘journalists’ imagination.

    Good on RPS for calling them out on this so strongly in public. With this and the Microsoft 360 journo bribe ealier in the week its been a dark time for game’s PR and potentially journalistic ethics.

    • Bowlby says:

      Oh, you mean the part where Microsoft gave new 360s to everyone present at their conference. That wasn’t a bribe. It was a PR move to get people buzzed, just like any other piece of swag. And if the journalists there felt it might impinge on their integrity in some way, then they could always give it away in a competition to their readers or simply not accept it.

    • Dan Lawrence says:

      Dude, it was intended as a bribe whatever Microsoft PR tell you. A corporation doesn’t give away expensive electrical items to the people supposed to be critically reporting on it’s products for no reason. There are loads of studies to show how accepting gifts colours everyone’s perceptions of the person giving the gift, and that goes just as much for those people who are utterly *convinced* that they can’t be bought off. Thankfully most reputable organisations have policies in place to automatically reject a gift like this for just such reasons.

      I agree with you that any journalists worth of the name shouldn’t accept the bribe though.

    • Bowlby says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you that this was a blatant attempt to positively colour journalistic response to their conference, but that’s what PR is, and I don’t think

      Actually, yeah, you’re right, it was bribery. I had this different idea of what bribery was in my head, and it was incorrect. I guess, with me, I don’t find it shocking, because this is what companies do. This is the job of PR, to positively influence the market’s opinion of their company’s product. And I imagine being a good journalist means being able to think of objectively and reject these attempts to colour opinion.

    • Dan Lawrence says:

      I think there is ‘good PR/Marketing’ which involves getting the truth about the product to as many people as possible in creative ways and also countering misinformation. Then there is also ‘bad PR/Marketing’ which takes advantage of psychological manipulation to spread false information, emotions and associations to as many people as possible in order to sell things through lies.

      I agree with you that ‘bad PR’ is massively prevelant these days but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call it out when it hits close to home (video games) and when it is a particularly egregious example of the form (a free 360 is much worse than taking a journo to the pub for a pint).

    • FunkyBadger says:

      I’m assuming you don’t work in either journalism or business?

    • Jimbo says:

      Being a ‘good journalist’ would have entailed refusing the gift in order to maintain both impartiality and the appearance of impartiality.

      Let’s not kid ourselves though, you aren’t going to find many journalists of any kind in an E3 conference hall. Reviewing games, paraphrasing press releases and being flown out to press events etc. is only ‘journalism’ in the loosest possible sense. Some of these guys refuse to refer to themselves as journalists for exactly this reason – and it’s a credit to them that they do so.

  44. Snall says:

    I’ve quite enjoyed my 5-6 hours of the game. The guns def have problems, but driving is very easy and shooting is pretty easy with certain guns…*shrug* People are just bitches. Could it be better? Of course, but it’s playable and fun imo, even though I like “mmo’s” where I can loot – this isn’t really a real mmo, max action zones being like 80 ppl.

    • Lambo says:

      So the masses of people whose opinion differs from you, who believe;

      That a “Action Game”, as you yourself term it, with guns that “def have problems”, is ok because “shooting is pretty easy with certain guns”.

      So the certain guns you have to spend your time and money ranking up to get, just so the bad shooting that has problems gets easier. All those people who believe that, and that it doesn’t make a particularly good game are “bitches”?

      Well then I am absolutely proud to be a bitch.

    • Lambo says:

      My bad, you didn’t say “Action game” you said a MMO and that it has “action zones”. Sorry about that, I think the rest of my comment still stands though.

  45. Lucas Says says:

    I feel like a 10 day embargo is perfectly reasonable for an MMO review, just because it’s difficult to experience most of the content that quickly, lag usually sucks the first couple days, and while not every reviewer will play more with an embargo, you have to feel that scrupulous reviewers (the gents here, for instance) would probably give it more time if they had more time.

    However, APB looks more like Battlefield than World of Warcraft. So this is kind of absurd. And I imagine this embargo will lower review scores pretty noticeably because of the annoyance.

    • Chris D says:

      An embargo wouldn’t necessarily make reviewers spend more time with a game though. There’s nothing to stop them logging in for the first time on day 9. If that is the reason for the embargo then I’ll grant that it’s less cynical but it’s still equally dumb. Ultimately there will always be good reviewers and bad reviewers and making them wait longer to publish won’t make the bad ones any better. It will be a PR nightmare, however.

  46. Drexer says:

    If developers want to make some kind of recognition towards review playtime then it’s quite easier. Create a time logger inside the game, that presents the reviewer with a certain code once he has played X hours. The reviewer goes to a link the publisher provided, inputs his review code and the code from the X hours and outputs a certain picture or something which can be direct linked and certifies the time of play.

    If the developers make the number of hours public to all people who visit their website, the ‘badge’ becomes a mark of a good review, except in the cases where the number of X hours is too big, where the reviewer will be practically obliged to say “I can’t present the badge because it takes X hours and we think that is far too long to demand of a client for a flawed product” and the client will make their own judgement regarding the number of hours played.

    I have not explored this from all angles, but it certainly is a better solution than their current one.

    • RQH says:

      The problem is you can almost always argue that you’ve never played enough, and a developer who wants to defend their game against bad reviews always will. If one reviewer logs his time and it’s fifteen hours, and another logs his time and it’s thirty, then the guy who’s played fifteen hours looks bad, even if his review may in other ways be better and more complete.

      As for a reviewer saying “we feel that X hours is too big a requirement, given the quality of the game,” isn’t that essentially what the original Darkfall review was saying, implicitly. That statement itself is a review of the game, which the developer will respond to with cries of “well, you haven’t played it enough! It gets better!” Why we would tolerate wasting ten hours of our lives on a shitty game because supposedly after ten hours it gets better is beyond me. (Note that this is not the same as spending ten hours of our lives on a game we’re shitty at because after ten hours we get better–one is about learning and mastering a skill, the other is about eating shit because at the end we’ve been promised a hot fudge sundae.)

      We might say that ideally, reviewers would play all the way through endgame, but even that may not be ideal. In my experience, there’s a sort of Stockholm syndrome that sets in beyond a certain time investment. Surely the review is useless as purchasing advice if it always boils down to “If you sink 100 hours into the game, you will love it.”

      At the end of the day, the solution (for consumers, at least–devs just want to control the message; they really aren’t ultimately concerned with whether a reviewer is making a good faith effort) is trust. We trust that reviewers have played enough to form an opinion, and if we sense from the review that they haven’t, or if we think that the things they highlight as negatives might actually be positives for us, or if we read another review that disagrees, we play it anyway and form our own opinions. Or we just play what our friends play. It’s the same critical apparatus we use when reading any review. I don’t see why it should be different for MMOs.

    • user@example.com says:

      I don’t get the “the first ten hours suck, but then it turns into robot unicorn attack 2 and also cures cancer” claim. I can kinda see it in a twenty-hour or even fifty-hour game, where you might be able to justify it on the grounds that it’ll make the eventual awesomeness feel so much better, and there’s a good plot to drag you through it, but in an MMO? If hours 1-10 suck but hours 11-10,000 are awesome, by hour 1,000 people will have completely forgotten about the first ten hours, so there’s nothing to be gained for long-term players by making the introduction suck – it can only hurt the game, because it only affects newbies.

  47. futage says:

    Is this embargo based on an already-signed NDA or is it a term/condition of downloading the review code?

    Presumably if the latter, a site could just buy a retail copy and review that with impunity?

    It’s an interesting one. Presumably (this is all presumption but I feel confident in my presumption) a review is most valuable to a site during the first few days of release? That being when the review gets the most traffic (and thus money for the site)? In which case this ‘request’ is even more fucked.

    Of course I understand that MMO makers want reviewers to spend enough time in the game to come to an informed position but… that’s not a problem (and it is a problem) to solve with unenforceable legal restrictions. That will just generate bad will, which is the opposite of what they need. Crazy fuckers.

  48. Nomaki says:

    I remember logging in with a bunch of friends into the EU beta after being hyped up about this game for ages; had an hour of fun with the character customisation and threw ourselves into the world to see what gangs and crooks we could take down. After a while we got into a few car chases, with all of them playing out in exactly the same way:
    Every corner, every road, every anything, both myself and the car being chased would attempt to navigate past obstructions only to be steered by the lag and mechanics into every obstruction which presented itself. Most memorably, when trying to lose be across a plaza, we both spent five minutes pathetically crashing into each other and every bollard between us and the next road.

    Like previous comments say, these problems may have been improved/fixed by now, but that single experience ruled out the game entirely for me.

  49. mandrill says:

    I would say that the game has potential. It is nowhere near realising that potential at the moment. but Its good for a laugh if nothing else.

    The points I think it could use improvement one are as follows:

    - PvP missions sent out to you (with the Y/N pager thing) should be:
    a) skill matched, too many times I’ve gone up against people who are miles ahead of me in terms of ability and equipment which has made the mission incredibly frustrating and not really fun at all.
    b) relatively close by. You should be able to get to the mission location fairly quickly, say within 20s of accepting it, instead of having to spedn time stealing a car and driving to the other end of the district to get some action (again against players with better equipment and more experience).

    The driving isn’t that bad once you get used to it. I certainly found myself powersliding and drifting with ease once I’d got the hang of it. I would like the option to play it as an FPS though. the over the shoulder view is irritating sometimes.

    As to the embargo, I get the feeling that RTW are not as confident in their product as they could be. They have been hyping it pretty intesively for the last year or so and understandably want to cash in on that in the first weekend of sales. I don’t see the embargo remaining unbroken though, especially if the reviews are as bad as everyone thinks they’re going to be.

    • Meat Circus says:

      This is the thing I don’t get. If they’re not confident it’s good enough, why the fuck are they releasing it?

    • KindredPhantom says:

      @Meat Circus

      Pressure from EA, to release now and get profit as soon as.

    • Kadayi says:

      @KindredPhantom

      EA are the retail publisher, however they have no investment in the title (the money raised to make the game is from outside sources). If RTW wanted to delay the release they could. Frankly the game needs a few tweaks here and there, but fundamentally it is sound. Certainly not in need of the vast overall of features as some people claim. APB is at it’s heart a co-op based tactical shooter. Being skilful at the game is not about being fast on the draw, it’s about out thinking/out playing your opponents as a collective to win missions (and advance yourself up the organisation & contact ladders). It doesn’t require locational damage (random headshots..let’s be honest), or funky cover systems because such things make the game more about twitch or would slow the pace of the game down considerably (mission turnaround is meant to be fast).

  50. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    While this pre sald embargo thing is utter ridiculous, i do think that an MMO, or most games requireing an online community should be reviewed twice, and tidbits told regularly, if it seemed good.

    First review should be the code, just how the game handles. In APB, its the driving and shooting. Not very fun, but it had its moments.
    For WoW, the single player was also like this. Never really had fun.
    But add in some people, and it got much better.

    So the second review should be for how the community effects the gameplay.

    In APB, when it went right, everyone stuck together and no idiots were on the team, i had a blast. Driving around hanging out of the car, being chased and stuff.

    When it went wrong, which it did for quite a while, it stucked. Running from spawn points over and over.3 v1 matchups because your teammates were half a city away. Trying to get to missions when the enemy have such a large headstart you can never catch up, etc.

    Its defiatly the sort of game that requires some sort of free pay-micro payment option. That would improve it in my eyes.