Wot I Think: APB Reloaded

Mr Caldwell has been playing APB Reloaded. We asked him to tell us what he thinks about it. It’s quite the story.

Right, this is the thing…

I recently met a couple of ex-Realtime Worlds developers (see this interview) who had been scooped up by Gamersfirst as part of the Big APB Bargain Buyout in 2010. They’ve since been set to work on making the MMO shooter free-to-play. Before the interview proper, they told me about the final days of the once-giant developer – after unenthusiastic reviews, poor subscription numbers and that woeful embargo business had crippled the company just three months from the launch date.

They told me how the administrators came in and stripped the place, how even the steel letters of the ‘Realtime Worlds’ sign had been seized in the shake-down. They told me about the leak in the roof and how they had to scavenge for equipment among the piles of keyboards, which the administrators couldn’t sell on, like in some surreal zombie apocalypse night terror suffered only by programmers. They told me how they were all gathered into one room as a list of names was read out, X-Factor style, detailing who would be staying and who would be made redundant. Over 150 people lost their jobs in what is still regarded as the most implosive MMO launch failure in history.

But that story has already been told. Having played APB: Reloaded I desperately want to tell you a new one.

A story about how a group of people salvaged the corpse of APB and resuscitated it. How they medicated and rehabilitated it into a perfectly functioning member of MMO society. I want to tell you this story because it’d be dead interesting and the squishy human side of my brain is screaming, “Christ, these folks have been through hell and high dole – surely they deserve a break by now.”

But I can’t tell you that story. Because the other side of my brain – the harsh, bastard games critic with a nigh-insatiable lust for Platonic perfection – is quietly saying something else. “Brendan,” it says, with a sceptical squint. “I don’t really like this game.”

Not that I think that of the whole game. There are some incredible components. The spread of customisation options alone should be carefully noted by any developer looking to enter the deadly MMO valley. You can customise your character right down to his or her acne scars and you can design your cars and personal emblem with the same freedom and creativity. The choice and potential for design creativity is almost debilitating. I was so stunned by the possibilities when it came to my car that I simply fell back on community affiliation.

The city as a whole is fairly uninspiring, with one skyscraper mostly indistinguishable from another and with none of the hyper-detailed character usually found in open-world cities of GTA or Saints Row. But, as was noted with the original, when you look closely you discover that all the flashpoints are actually very sensibly laid out. There’s always a method of flanking or surrounding an enemy team and useful shortcuts are everywhere. The geography and map design is definitely the last thing that will irk you about the combat.

On that subject reviews of vanilla APB didn’t hold back. Combat was stifled by the player’s ability to soak up bullets, poor matchmaking that put experienced players against fresh recruits, unresponsive vehicle handling and the same old missions nobody liked that kept repeating themselves. The problems, like Anonymous, were legion. And like Anonymous I should have expected them.

This is not to say some welcome changes haven’t been made – many things have been improved according to the devs. The starting assault rifle is much stronger and a good all-round weapon. Likewise, the beginner’s car is much improved. This is so you don’t find yourself out-gunned or out-manoeuvred by players who have been online for months and are better equipped – or by players who have simply bought their way to the top by splashing out on the best items. Supposedly, you will keep the starting weapon – the Star Assault Rifle – and the first car you get for the rest of your in-game life and they will always remain useful. Indeed, I saw a few players sporting the Jack-of-all-bullet-hoses even at higher ranks, not to mention that I probably got more kills with it than any other weapon I subsequently tried – and that includes the most expensive paid-for bad boys.

Yet to say this completely balances the combat would be optimistic. To make things clearer, I played the game with two characters – one: a perp on a premium. And the other: a filthy freeloading enforcer. Within an hour the premium character had grenades, a field supplier for reloading ammo, [actually turns out the lack of these things on the freeloader is a bug, see comment below – RPS] a needlessly speedy sports car and the best sniper rifle ‘G1 credits’ could buy (one you can sprint with, rather than trudging along slowly due to the weight).

It took me until level 18 with The Freeloader to be able to get a new sub-machine gun. At level 21 I still didn’t have any grenades or the field supplier like everyone else did. This lack of explosives alone means if my two characters were to meet in combat, the Premium Perp would likely trounce The Freeloader. Grenades get thrown around in the alleyways of San Paro like a pubescent boy throws popcorn at girls in the cinema. Frequently and with frightening accuracy. Only you can’t pick up the grenade again and eat it after it’s been in your target’s luscious hair with a sort of forlorn and furtive expression on your face.

Oh, whatever. We all did it.

Anyway, death by grenade is something to get used to in APB Reloaded, along with: death by sniper’s bullet, death by scoped AK47-thing and death by dump truck. The last one is most fun but also most rare. To be fair, I should say that I am woeful at this game. I can’t aim and I can’t navigate the city’s well-designed fire-fighting arenas. It was often blind luck if I got a single kill in any mission, so I often tried to be the go-to objective-getting guy. This was somewhat hampered by the fact that a lot of the objectives involve shooting people.

Let me explain. APB’s matchmaking system works by throwing you into a group and setting you objectives. As a criminal this might be to spray paint a wall or break into a house (well, a windowpane – the stolen item simply tumbles out). If you’re an enforcer, it might be to place surveillance equipment or to deal with criminal graffiti (by spraying more graffiti over it, obviously). Round after round of these objectives take place, all haphazardly connected in narrative terms by a tiny text box in the upper-right corner of the screen that you’ll never read. Then it usually culminates in a big fire-fight between you and the opposing side with Domination style positions to hold or a single player on your team allocated as a VIP to protect.

These missions are assigned to you continuously, so you need to press ‘K’ and turn off the ‘Looking for group’ option if you want to be left alone to do your own thing for a bit. “Why would you want to be left alone to do your own thing, you sad, sad, lonely man?” I hear you ask. Well, you cheeky scamp, because the endlessly repeating missions – each one strangely resembling the last – can get A Bit Much. A huge disappointment then that even the open-world crimes (designed to be perpetrated outside of missions) only amount to either mugging pedestrians or smashing up a shop.

As an enforcer, you don’t even have these as an option. In fact, the lack of mission variety is perhaps the biggest culprit among the game’s many delinquent designs. The much-hated ‘Escape’ missions, in which you simply had to go without breaking the law for a few minutes seem to be gone. But the rest of the mission variants are still offending with their repetitiveness.

So, ultimately if you want to progress fast then you’re trapped in a third-person CoDalike, except it lacks the absolutely watertight balancing act Activision pulls off with every release. The perks (‘modifications’ and ‘equipment’ in APB) take too long to earn and don’t act in the same complex rock-paper-scissors way as they do in competitive first-person-shooters. Instead they grant MMO-like bonuses offset with a specific check. For instance, higher level players will run around with Kevlar or Health bonuses, with a penalty to their speed. That might seem sensible, right? This is an MMO after all. No, not really. APB Reloaded is not an MMO. APB Reloaded is a multiplayer shooter stuck in limbo.

What happens is that the penalty for these modifications is so minor and the benefit so universally useful (as in the health improving modification) that it’s a no-brainer between which to choose. That’s if you’ve got some mods to choose from. The Freeloader still hasn’t earned a single perk. Come to think of it, neither has The Perp. The inadequacies – and I feel quite nasty for using that word but there you go – the inadequacies of APB Reloaded as a shooter are as blindingly obvious as the sun that perpetually shines down on San Paro. You don’t have the ability to choose a game mode or even a spawn point. All these flaws compound to make missions a weird chimera of dull A to B driving and an outdated scramble for kills.

Right, critical side of the brain. You’ve had your fun. Give Reloaded a break now, throw them something… just… just skip the driving…

No, sorry. I can’t. It’s terrible. Despite the best efforts of the developer to improve the cars and make them more responsive, there is still a very noticeable delay when driving. Perhaps only three-quarters of a second. Maybe only half a second. But that is more than enough to make you fling yourself from side to side. It affects every vehicle and is definitely not down to my internet speed, which is grand, thanks for asking. You can adapt and get used to driving half a second out of step with the roads but the only way you’re ever going to be a decent driver in APB is if you somehow develop the ability to see into the future.

All right, cool it now…

No. I can’t cool it. Don’t you see? These are problems which persist. So core to the game that they seemingly can’t be re-engineered at this point. The things that do have merit – the good map design, the astoundingly detailed customisation options that let you create your own character, or style your car in any unique way, or even create your own music with which to taunt a player you’ve killed – all these great things remain choked by a shoot-things-em-up which still hasn’t fully repented for its crimes.

It’s free-to-play, which means you should go and give it a shot anyway, because if you’re reading this it means you’re at least intrigued by the concept. Hell, maybe you’ll even like it. I won’t lie – there were times when I found myself smiling and laughing, genuinely engaged by the randomness and unpredictability of the street crime. I never felt more excitement in APB than in the moments I was running away from the cops, clambering over fences and sprinting like a Jesus lizard across open roads for fear of snipers. It’s just sad that those moments are so rare. If the ability to create stories the player can share is the surest sign you’ve got a great game, then this game is far from great. I have no stories from APB Reloaded.

Well, maybe one. It’s not the story I wanted it to be. It’s not the story I could spout with a cigar in my mouth like the Premium Perp up there, not a story of a criminalised game finally vindicated or a dead game brought triumphantly back from the void.

It’s just the story of APB. And that story has already been told.


  1. Matt says:

    This review is 100% accurate (and depressing).

    • Sakaki says:

      Never mind the game, this review is fucking awful. None of the criticisms given of the game hold water. That’s not to say APB is a great game, it’s enjoyable if mediocre, worth-playing-for-free type affair, but none of it’s problems are mentioned above.

      Firstly, almost all of the standard weapons are unlockable in a few hours of gameplay on a non premium account. What you get by playing for longer are modifiable versions of the weapons you already have after the first handful of missions you do.

      He corrected the mistake he made about free accounts not getting grenades or ammo resupply (they do, everyone does at level 1) but still left in the two paragraphs using the fact as proof of his previous “premium players are unbalanced” statement. There are a couple of vastly overpriced premium weapons that are a bit better than stuff you get from just playing the game, but just being premium has virtually no gameplay benefit other than a reduction in time required to increase in rank.

      The “boring drive” between the objectives followed by a fight for kills is an attitude taken by someone who doesn’t understand what they are supposed to be doing. The drive between stages is one of the most critical moments that will decide whether you win or lose. The team that wins the race to the next objective has a clear advantage over the other, so much so that missions can be won almost entirely by speed and teamwork.

      All character modifications are available by rank 40, which is easily reachable within a few days of casual play. The confusion the reviewer had was that they aren’t just given to you at this point, you need to buy them off of other players, the ability to buy them directly (and sell them for profit) is what you unlock at higher levels.

      The “no-brainer” higher health modification that he uses as an example of a mod that shows how the game isn’t balanced used by virtually no one, because unlike the reviewers assumption, the negative aspect of the mod hugely outweighs the bonus HP it gives. An experienced APB player seeing another using the mod that this guy thinks is overpowered would be immediately dismissed as a noob or someone just messing around.

      Again, I’m not defending APB, it does have some balance issues and some fairly severe performance problems. I’m just pointing out the terrible journalism here. There’s nothing in this article that gives any reliable impression of what the game is like, it’s just speculation based on assumptions.

  2. miceryl says:

    The non-premium character not having the field supplier or grenades is a bug we’ve recently introduced (or, recently discovered) when you skip the tutorial – these rewards are given to every character that plays the tutorial, and should’ve been sent to you regardless.

    It is not a premium vs. non-premium thing :)

    Edit: Perhaps not thinking straight on a Saturday morning. The repro I describe above should be impossible, as should the original problem. We are looking into it this morning though. The intention certainly is that all characters should have grenades & field suppliers though :)

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I’ve made a note of that in the text.

    • UmmonTL says:

      Ah I was wondering what Jim was talking about, having no grenades or field supplier. That probably reduced any fun you had with the game by quite a bit.
      As for the game having played it in the original beta and again recently, it has improved a lot.
      Trying to keep it short here, the driving is as good as it will ever get for a MMO with actual collisions.
      The missions should be compared to other FPS’es, they may be nothing new but there aren’t less than you would expect. And the random nature of the different objectives as well as the open world can mix things up quite a bit.
      The perks, while some are clear advantages are never a way around the underlying rock-paper-scissor mechanic of the different gun’s engagement ranges. As was said in the interview, SMGs and Shotguns kill you if they get close while snipers and semi.auto rifles win in at long ranges. And unlocking the guns doesn’t take much time, getting a good pistol to complement your choice of weapon takes a bit longer (starting pistol is just shit). It should also be noted that you can change your weapon with the field supply kit so if your objective is in a narrow corridor and you only have your sniper rifle you can take a few seconds to switch it out.

      Now the real problem I found lies with the experience of the players and that it’s not well represented by the games threat mechanic (which is how the matchmaking is determined). I’m not sure how that can be improved though, there are a lot of secret spots that are hard to get to and easy to defend which the experienced player will always seek out. Knowing the various ways to get to objective points is also key. I tend to revisit areas where I lost badly to see if there were any other ways I could have used. Also I found that just following a bunch of gold-level players around on their missions is a good way to learn.

      Like Jim said, I would suggest that people try the game out if they like competitive online shooters. Just don’t expect an MMO and try to get a good team together. Play it in short stretches and go on the occasional dump-truck rampage when you just want to have some fun.

  3. bear912 says:

    I think you might have been playing it wrong.

    Admittedly, I’ve never played the game, but that video makes me want to.

    • Aemony says:

      The dump trucks was one of the best things about the game, it’s just too bad that they have nerfed them in a weirdly rubbery kind of way. The trucks felt massive and powerful before, but due to griefing now they seem to bounce around like a rubber ball from a mere hit by another player controlled car.

      In fact, due to the lack of mission variety griefing and just messing around became one of my preferred way of getting any fun out of the game. For example, as a criminal I and another player would take two dump trucks and barricade the exit of one of the enforcer’s garages. Much fun was to be had when enforcers impounded civilian cars and blew them up besides us (the only way of destroying another player-controlled car is by using a middleman in form of an empty car) to try and destroy our lovely barricade, so they could finally get their own cars out.

      Too bad the fun was shortlived, and the nerf of the dump trucks eliminated the last fun I could find in the game.

    • bear912 says:

      A pity! Those dump trucks look like grand fun.

    • Phantoon says:

      Fun should never be nerfed.

      Unless you’re shooting people with Nerf. That can be fun too.

    • ThaneSolus says:

      hahah hilarious!

    • dsi1 says:

      It’s sad when MMO devs punish creativity. (Wait, is this game still considered an MMO?)

  4. Arglebargle says:

    The lure of character customization got me to try the APBBeta. So much of it was behind pay, or play, walls –, that I lost interest. The design end was by far the most intriguing to me. There would have been some shooty things of course, but the lock out of the cool stuff killed any chance for me.

    And I would have been great cannon fodder too!

    • Keymonk says:

      I’m pretty much the same. If customization is behind a pay wall, I’m all haha nope.

    • Xan says:

      I still don’t have grenades and it’s making some parts very very hard.

      I have grenades as AMMO but not as a weapon, thus I can’t throw them…

  5. huw says:

    Nice writeup, Mr Caldwell. I tend to agree, although I don’t think I would be quite as harsh as you’ve been. APB is definitely a fun game to play, and when compared to other F2P shooters it’s probably the best I’ve ever played.

    The best way to look at it is not as an MMO; just think of it as a silly, fun shooter you can stick on for half an hour at a time when you don’t have longer to play something more involved. I play as a freeloading Enforcer myself (and got the grenades/resupplier within half an hour of playing IIRC) and I’ve experienced more moments of joy than you unfortunately seemed to. It’s a great feeling when you’re suddenly thrown into a group with other Enforcers and tasked with tearing across the city to catch some criminal scum; everyone piling their cars into the same wall (braking is for pussies), getting out, and engaging the perps in a splendid firefight.

    I dunno, perhaps I’m easily pleased. But it’s something I do enjoy throwing on every now and again just to have a blast. And I haven’t even started with all the customisation options.

    • Kelron says:

      It’s a strange one. I agree with a lot of the WIT, but on the other hand I can still have a hell of a lot of fun playing it. I think it’s the locations that really make it different from playing a “better” shooter. You have a lot of room for flanking and sneaky tactics on missions, and it’s satisfying to sneak up on someone down a route they didn’t even notice, or plow a car into a position you’ve failed to assault on foot.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “when compared to other F2P shooters it’s probably the best I’ve ever played.”

      It should be after $80m.

    • Bhazor says:

      The game for a $80,000,000 budget title is appallingly shoddy. Bad driving, bad shooting, really really bad mission/quest design, nothing to do outside of missions beside buying upgrades and playing dress up.

      GTA 4 32 player co-op does what APB spent 5/6 years trying to do. But better and 2 years sooner.

    • Telos says:

      One thing I learnt about APB when playing was how important it was to have a group of friends on teamspeak with you (not the in game voice chat which in my opinion was useless). The amount of fun I had playing that game!

      Hicks, Suave and Me (character names, I was Cash) would group up as enforcers and take to the streets of San Paro. Hicks was our close quarters shotgun extraordinaire, who excelled in the claustrophobic back streets and allyways. Anyone foolish enough to not use their third-person camera to scout out an allyway would quickly receive a torso full of buckshot and magnum rounds. While Suave was our jack-of-all trades master of everything (especially the sniper Rifle). This guy would swap his weapon depending on the situation, a true team player. Not only was he a team player he was mind-blowingly talented with any weapon he used.

      The key to both my team-mates being so talented was knowing there weapons strengths and weaknesses and making sure your secondary would compensate for that. If Suave was kitted as a marksman, don’t expect to see him sprinting round corners next to an objective… in fact, don’t expect to see him for the first 2-3 minutes of that objective, as he was climbing/ finding the best possible vantage point to rain down death from.

      Clear communication was key with a sniper as it did 99% health damage but had a slow refire rate, so one hit from anything and a sniper round, meant death. This meant a lot of co-ordination in taking down a target, but the results were death in an instant and a feeling of gratification that was second-to-none.

      Hicks was a bit of a lone-wolf racking up the kill count when defending or attacking. If the opposing team didn’t have a long range player, a good vantage point and good communication, there was no getting past him. He was also extremely good with grenades (something I can’t say about myself) and at mid-range, pretty devestating with his magnum. I can’t express how important it was knowing how much damage your weapon did to players. Hicks would not engage with the magnum if cover was nearby or the distance of the target was further than 60 yards, as it was slow firing but a 3 shot kill under this distance. Shooting from further away only alerted the enemy to your presence so knowing when to shoot was incredibly important. He definately did.

      Me? I was mid-to-close range. My semi-automatic could destroy from mid-range and could out shoot pratically every other weapon if every shot hit (This was the tricky part). It was also viable as long range. This meant I would be sprinting around the outskirts of any objective taking out any flankers or forcing them to run into cover away from the objective (where suave would be waiting) or towards the objective, enter shotgun to torso. My secondary was an machine-pistol. This was the best secondary for close quarters, it wouldn’t out shoot a shotgun or a primary sub-machine gun, but anyone with mid-long range would lose in a firefight. If I got the drop on someone with a close quarters primary it was 50-50. This meant no matter what was happening and what the opposing team consisted of I was adjusting my playstyle to suit.

      If we had 3 close quarters primary weapon users and suave had trouble seeing onto the objective it may have been 2v3, but our communication meant synchronised killing and generally a win.

      Why am I telling you this, you may be asking. I’m telling you because I want you to play. I want you to enjoy it as much as I did. This is one of my favourite games of all time, despite it’s problems. When I read articles about this game, they all seem to:

      a). Judge it too early. Knowing the games rules and mechanics is what makes this fun. It has a learning curve that is hard to see as it seems like knowing the stats of weapons, health upgrades etc. wouldn’t help you, but it’s as important as knowing them in MOBA’s (League of Legends, HoN, DotA).

      For example if you play a new character in LoL (only Moba I’ve played – Sorry) you have moves that synergise with each other, doing these moves in a specific order depending on the situation is the difference between winning and losing as well as knowing when to retreat. Throwing a grenade and then shooting or shooting and then throwing can also mean the difference between a kill, a death or no progress.
      N.B. I’m not saying the learning curve is anything like any of these games I’m purely saying knowing the stats is as important.

      b). Judge it for what it’s not. Not what it is. It’s not CoD, it’s also not Counter-strike and It’s not WoW or a combination. In my opinion it’s nothing like anything, There is too much variation in the environment for there to be consistent rules which means strategy must be devised on the fly (where it stands apart from most games) and so little variation in the gun mechanics that communication is vital in getting the most efficient kills. You’re skill in shooters in important, but these come automatically with time when playing a shooter. Playing with the same people means good communication and actively trying to strategise makes you better at doing so (even if you suck to begin with). The only way you get better is by doing, so playing this game you may suck at shooting, but no matter what, you’ll get better. Strategising and communication though, have to be actively pursued as they are not a requisite to playing, only to having fun.

      c). The Prime offender… they play it solo! Grouping up with a bunch of unknowns (in my opinion) is the most detrimental action to the fun of this game. This seems to be how most reviewers reviewed this game.

      Find a/some (the more the better, up to four) friends, tell them about it, get excited and download it together. Maybe start strategising as you download it, choose what role you are going to aim for first, (maybe avoid the shotgun to begin with, as it takes a fair bit of practise to get good with and will outshoot anything close range if you are very good with it) if you’re not you will curse bad game design and declare the developers idiots for letting a mid-range weapon beat a shotgun. They’re not, it’s just got a very high skill ceiling compared to the other weapons.

      This game will not have the logevity of an MMO and you probably won’t play it to end game content as the formula will get stale (You will destroy everyone you encounter). However I have 100+ hours in this game and loved 90% of them. it’s an ambitious undertaking in the genre (TacticalTPSMMO) that deserves to be refined and built on and you AND your friend should definately play it.

      Way too F***ing long Didn’t Read:

      Play with friends and stick it out… Reviewers never play APB with friends and the game only gets good with investment.

    • Telos says:

      By investment I don’t mean monetary, I mean learning the game.

    • Bhazor says:

      To quote Yahtzee

      Dying of bowle cancer can be fun if you have friends around.

    • Telos says:

      Exactly. This game is like a multiplier.

    • Bhazor says:

      You miss my point.

      Saying a crap game becomes slightly less crap when you play it with friends does not mean it is a good game. APB isn’t a good game. It’s a really bad game that now has F2P grinding in a world with vastly superior games available.

      You had fun playing with friends /= this is a fun game.

    • Telos says:

      You miss my point. This game gets exponentially better with friends. Without friends it’s a wreck, it’s boring and a grind fest. With friends it’s one of the best games I have ever played.

    • PodX140 says:

      I completely agree with Telos. For the past 3 day’s I’ve sunk over 20 hours into this game because of 3 buddies + mumble, leading to insane occurances and even crazier close games. Without friends on, the game is just great. With friends, it’s fantastic.

    • Telos says:

      One thing we noticed when we were playing was it had a certain “OH MY BLEURGGGH” factor. Where s*** would happen that was mind blowingly awesome and unexpected that you just don’t get in other games.

    • moondog548 says:


      For me it was trotting out of an alleyway to see a minivan spiraling through the air 5 storeys up across the face of the building across the way.

      And the fact that that incident had nothing at all to do with my mission.

      Also there was the time that me and my clan got into a HEAT-style running gunfight down a particularly seedy block with an opposing team. Totally intense.

      The other 96% of the game has been muddy random poo, however. :[

    • StarkeRealm says:

      Telos, with respect, almost any game with friends in voice comms is infinitely better. The big impediment when I was playing the game was the realization that the interaction between PUGs was so poor. Some of that is just random anti-social bastards in an MMO. But a fair amount of that lands solidly on the shoulders of failures in the game. In particular voice communications is one of the things players in a team need.

      I’m not saying you can’t have fun with it, and that it can’t be an amazing experience, but I’m not sure if that’s really cause to praise the game, when there are better options out their like the aforementioned GTA mod.

  6. Shortwave says:

    This was an amazing read. I honestly knew their company was falling apart at the time but didn’t really consider what it must of been like for them, so putting that into perspective was a great thing.
    It makes me wonder how much greater this game could of been if they could of worked on it properly and had the time and resources to achieve their ultimate goal.. But, sadly it wasn’t so.
    I was following this game for ages before it’s release but decided not to buy it right off the bang.
    Totally glad I did that., seeing as what happened.. THEN, again was very excited to hear it was getting “fixed” and being released as a F2P title.. I tried it.. And yeaaaa..

    “No, sorry. I can’t. It’s terrible.” about sums it up.

    Good luck to all the Devs who were involved and their future endeavors.
    Everyone loved the concept and wanted to love the game.. : (
    Well, lots of us for sure. Can’t win em’ all.

  7. Lost says:

    To be fair, with all the problems APB has/had I kind of enjoyed the APB as released by real-worlds. Though what needs to be said is that I was one of the few people making enough money of selling mods to have a half year worth of gametime before the game died.

    Guess i’m biased, since I was the guy with all the fancy upgrades smacking it down on the newer characters (though they were in overwhelming numbers and we had a RL friends group playing together).

    After APB got reloaded I tryed it again, but quit after 30 minutes because the, as the review points out, same mistakes are still all over this game.

  8. LionsPhil says:

    Well, at least we can muck about making MAXIMUM FACE in the character generator without spending any money now.

    Edit: Oh, right, Punkbuster. Forget it, then.

    • Bhazor says:

      The best game for Maximum Face is still The Sims 2 or 3. Why? Because you can breed them.

      I like to have the mother with all settings at minimum (Minnie Face) and the father with all set to maximum (Max Face). The resulting progeny is something to behold.

  9. Bhazor says:

    Would love some kind of longform analysis of what happened with this game and the studio. A full on feature length documentary or book carefully compiled with first hand accounts or interviews about all the mistakes and cock ups and broken dreams that drove the studio down. Like what “Masters of Doom” did about the fall of the original iD software team.

    Like with DNF I feel the story behind the game is much interesting than the game itself.

  10. MaddiMayhem says:

    Wait, so you don’t know the grenades will be mailed to you right after you have finished the tutorial?

    • Brendy_C says:

      A commenter above says skipping the tutorial as an F2P player creates a bug whereby you don’t receive the items. But I played through the tutorial until it asked me if I wanted to leave and join ‘then real world’ at which point I jumped into the game proper. And I still didn’t get rewarded these items! The only thing I can think of is that the tutorial has its own instance and you have to complete a few other missions in it on top of the ‘required reading’, so to speak.

      The tutorial itself doesn’t do a great job of explaining everything.

  11. Legionary says:

    I don’t agree that the flashpoint design is good. I found that places are almost always overlooked by high ground or camping spots, which still mean that the first team to get hunkered in has a massive — and usually insurmountable — advantage. APB is at its best when battles erupt in the open city, and at its worst when fights take place in the designed zones near objectives.

    • Devenger says:

      From what I played of this a few months ago, I agree with this. I liked the game enough to try a month of premium, so it would be unfair of me to say I wasn’t enjoying it at all – but some missions gave one team a perfect opportunity to set up in positions that even grenades can’t shift. I don’t know what the solution is – an addition that fits within APB’s relatively serious game world is tricky. I wanted to be able to deploy little mortars and shell those damned Criminals off the warehouse rooftops, but that probably wouldn’t fit the tone…

      Arguments that the game is much more fun with friends… well… I think I’ve yet to find a game that ISN’T fun with friends, at least for a time. But I can’t structure my life around my play time, so it’s vital to me that solo play (or, in the case of APB, group play with strangers) in a game is viable.

  12. Blackcompany says:

    Do you know what blows my mind? If you do, you can stop reading now. Go open up a psychic hotline or something, for pete’s sake. Otherwise, keep reading and I will tell you.
    People love co-op games. That isn’t what blow my mind but I am getting there. I mean, everybody wants multiplayer co-op these days. Got an RPG? They want to play it with their friends. A Shooter? They won’t even buy it if it doesn’t have co-op/PVP maps. Action games? Strategy?
    Better have co-op/multiplayer.
    And yet…(here it comes)…and yet…everyone always focuses ONLY on the PVP aspect of multiplayer. Every game has wide open PVP, live and at all times. Or the main focus is on PVP, and everything else is secondary to that experience. PVP is fine, not knocking it. But every game has it. Make a game that focuses on PVP – and heaven help you if its also a shooter – and you are literally in competition with 90% of games today. Automatically, immediately, you have placed yourself in a crowded market, competing with every other game out there, or near enough.
    Then you go and compound the problem with Pay-To-Win items and weapons. I know you need money. You run a business, provide a service. You need to get paid to keep in business. Not knocking that. No way. Please, make money. I want you to make money so I can play your game.
    Except, I don’t want to play your game. Because it’s sort of like playing one of those rich-blokes-only trading card games. You know the ones: poor kids are the fodder at the Friday night tourneys while those who can throw down $500 for a good deck always take top spots. This is sort of like that, with those who fork out the most money having the best items.
    So…what about Co-Op? What about a big, huge, open-world/sandbox city Co-Op shooter. Think Saints Row here. Go on. No, don’t steal from it but let it inspire you, perhaps. Make your title co-op and then at least I will occasionally be happy to have someone along who is using a slightly overpowered gun or vehicle. Hell, I might be more tempted to buy one myself, since it doesn’t automatically give me advantages over other players directly. I might get more kills, but I won’t be using a monetary advantage to kill other, mostly frustrated, people.

    And I promise you people will play. No, you won’t get the hard-core, PVP, kill-streak players. But you won’t get them now, either. Not with Pay to win items. Not by competing with every other shooter out there. So why not retool your game to focus on large, fun PVE cities with plenty to steal, loot, graffiti, and destroy. Surely there are helicopters and dump trucks and cars and motorcycles to steal. Walls to paint and…stuff…to smuggle. Police to outrun or gangs to blow up. People to hold for ransom. Weapon shots and maybe even some loot.
    Make your game a wide open, sandbox PVE city-arena. It will be more unique in a crowded MMO market, will no longer compete with the 837 other PVP shooters for market share and few people will care who buys the OP gun, win its on their side helping them win more territory.
    And if you want to keep PVP, have special servers/arenas. Let “rival” gangs play PVP if they choose. You don’t have to eliminate it. But you also don’t have to focus on it, either. PVP ain’t the only demographic that plays or wants to play an MMO.

  13. ThaneSolus says:

    80 milions, god EA are so bad. 200 mils for SWTOR haha! where they went? 20 mil in game, 50 in voice overs and 130 in marketing of course…

    INNOVATIVE! AWESOME! OUTSTANDING?!!! Those from their latest Press Releases which are hilarious. I dont know how people publishes them.

    I can wait to laugh my ass off, in 6-12 months when is gona switch to free to play, hahaha

    Still, APB is probably 10x times better than SWTOR, in the fun factor.

  14. Glottis1 says:

    I have enjoyed playing this game. Its most fun when you have a good group of people who do teamwork.

  15. CaptainHairy says:

    From what I hear in the voice chat that I share with friends who play this game, the biggest two impediments to fun after you find you actually like the game is that the matchmaker is broken as hell still, and the game is packed, floor to ceiling, wall to wall with Russian hackers.

    My friends keep running into people whose names are slight variations on the names of players who have been banned from the game several times already, but because of the game’s free to play nature, they just get a new email address and return to the game the same day.

  16. Cooper says:

    Treat it as a half-decent small team shooter with an incredibly fleshed out lobby and it’s not so bad. I still fire it up for half an hour at a time for a match or two.

    But it does need to embrace its FPS-ness and drop some of the MMO conventions.

  17. TODD says:

    I was bumflummoxed by this bit:

    What happens is that the penalty for these modifications is so minor and the benefit so universally useful (as in the health improving modification) that it’s a no-brainer between which to choose.

    The health improving modification is unequivocally detrimental to nearly every possible style of play. A few snipers make good use of it by camping on a roof somewhere and not moving around, but for everyone else (including most snipers), the Kevlar mod is a death trap. You may soak up 30% more damage, but that benefit is more than negated by the fact that you take 50% longer to move between cover and have severely curtailed your ability to flank and maneuver otherwise.

    I hate to be the guy on every game review saying “You got it all wrong!” but you really need to play this game with friends in voice comms. You also need to spend a little time learning the game mechanics like that “no-brainer” kevlar mod. You’re absolutely right that the game is repetitive crap without a team and at low skill levels; with a coordinated team, it becomes one of the most fluid, dynamic tactical shooters ever. Many RPS commenters have made this exact point. Why did you ignore them?

    edit: To clarify, I don’t think this review was unfair as far as it went. It was just very incomplete – as if you reviewed Battlefield 3’s multiplayer after playing only Team Deathmatch or panned Starcraft II as an eSport after playing a series of bronze league games.

    • Brendy_C says:

      Most of the people I saw (that had modifications) had either a Health or Kevlar mod. Maybe that was just coincidence? I’m just going off what I saw.

      I agree with you that the review is incomplete though. I didn’t get to mention the woefully inadequate tutorial. Or the amount of boring grind involved in earning money. Or the fact that items earned become email attachments for some bizarre reason, rather than simply being added to your inventory. Or that the Money Laundry doesn’t let you reduce your notoriety level unless you actually have stolen some money, leading to the bizarre situation whereby you have to mug someone in order to be able to clear your name (you can pay someone else to clear your name but why bother?).

      On the subject of playing with friends:

      A good multiplayer game, be it MMO or FPS, will have an environment in which you can /make friends/ and have fun. A poor multiplayer game will have an environment in which you /need to bring friends/ to have fun.

      I tried to talk and engage with people a few times and didn’t even get a reply. So I found APB to be one of the latter. But that kind of thing will be different for everyone.

    • TODD says:

      Most of the people I saw (that had modifications) had either a Health or Kevlar mod. Maybe that was just coincidence? I’m just going off what I saw.

      That’s because the increased health (Kevlar Implants) and health regen (Clotting Agent) are the only two mods that can go in that slot. Kevlar Implants is not worthwhile under basically any circumstances because it outright removes the ability to sprint. The tradeoff for Clotting Agent 3 is considered worthwhile by most people because it causes you to constantly regenerate health and can save your life if cover is sparse. It increases total health regeneration time, however, so some very skilled players prefer to simply omit a mod in that slot depending on their playstyle and map knowledge.

    • Brendy_C says:

      Ahhh, it all becomes clear. Still, a lot of people had these mods and it was noticeable when you go up against them in a firefight, especially if they have the more advanced versions. The matchmaking could do more to avoid putting you up against these guys, but sadly it didn’t when I was playing. That might have something to do with the numbers of vets vs newbs in an instance, or something to do with the way matchmaking is operated – I dunno which.

      (Also, bumflummoxed is an amazing word)

    • TODD says:

      Because the system only has 50 players (realistically, more like 15-25) from which to choose at the start of each mission, matchmaking is fucking awful unless you’re a player who is good enough to be upper silver or gold threat. When you’re that skilled, you have a fighting chance against anything the game throws at you.

      As a player who worked his way up from bottom-of-the-barrel trainee to gold threat, I know both sides of the coin. Bronze and silver players are often matched against golds (albeit with a numerical advantage), but gold threat is a sign of such a fundamental understanding of mechanics and map layout that two coordinated gold players will frequently overcome 8-12 lower threats stacked against them — no matter what equipment they use. It has nothing to do with gear.

      “Bumflummoxed” is one of my favorite words. You have my permission to use it, but only in moderation!

  18. xenogrant says:

    The most fun I’ve had in the original was blockading the road, with a bunch of dumpsters, pick up trucks, SUVs, whatever i could get my hands on, into a 2 car wide barrier going from one building to the one across, that couldn’t be rammed through, and then watching people rage as they’re driving from point A and point B, on a counting down timer that’s almost ran out, while being chased by another car shooting them, they come around the corner and realize the way is blocked. They try to ram their way through, start cursing at me, then the people who are chasing them show up and blow them up. In fact I’m gonna download the free to play just to see if i can still do that.

  19. newprince says:

    I for one do not believe this review is 100% accurate, but there you go. If I wasn’t so absorbed in Saint’s Row and that dreadful MMO with the lightsticks, this would be my game.

    I’m surprised there was no section detailing the thrill of plunking down some cash to buy a nice SUV, painting it in whatever craziness you can dream up, and riding with 2 or 3 of your friends as they commit drive bys and vehicular manslaughter. To me that’s when this game reaches a level that MMOs, sandbox games, and games in general rarely achieve. It’s something we vaguely felt in Crackdown, which was a great game, but I feel APB surpasses it in a lot of ways.

    But no, let’s call it a “CoDalike”. Really? Whatever.

  20. cjlr says:

    That is one stylish car.

  21. alt24z says:

    That was an amazing read. When I originally saw this I almost nodded off as APB news comes thick and fast with nothing interesting coming our way. This review was written so well and had such a great build up that I somehow managed to go through reading the entire article with complete interest.

  22. Neolithic says:

    When I was playing this game I just went around with one friend in a huge van smashing into every shop front and putting all the huge valuable stuff in because the amount of stuff you could put in the van was the most I believe. But one time the van rolled over and we had to climb out and get 2 heavy items as the van exploded with the drop off point about 200m away so we were walking down the motorway for about 5-10 minutes with huge TV’s due to there being no way of dropping them(I think).
    Good times.

  23. DaftPunk says:

    Remember being in BETA for game,also we cruised on official forums,making alliances and stuff. I imagined game to be something really special..well we got poo. After that i never hyped any game,never again!

  24. Snowskeeper says:

    Okay, I vehemently disagree with this review, but because I’m a nice person I’m just going to assume all of the inaccuracies (no spawn points my ass!) are because this review was a few months ago. And I’m going to pretend that I didn’d download this a week after it was released, when spawn-points were still there.

    I’m also going to pretend that you didn’t call the open-world crimes and crime-watching boring, because that’s pretty damn inaccurate too. The game’s an MMO and is meant to be played with other people, not by yourself. If an Enforcer sees you comitting a crime when you’re above 0 noteriety (which you will be, if you’re mugging someone or ram-raiding), they can be deployed against you, and then it’s a frantic struggle for all the money you made since you last completed a Mission or visited a money-launderer.

    Still not convinced? Try setting up street-races with other players, climbing up the (decidedly not any less distinctive than in a real-world city) huge buildings to leave your mark on the blank bulletin boards and walls throughout the city, or even playing a mission like you’re a criminal trying to commit a crime or an enforcer trying to stop one, rather than a special-ops soldier sent to kill a lot of people and complete an objective. The machine gun isn’t designed to pump out a lot of bullets and kill people really quickly, it’s designed to suppress enforcers while an ally sets fire to a car or spray paint on walls. Sniper rifles aren’t there to kill everyone from an extreme distance, they’re there to protect your VIP and to kill important people with a single shot (and with the recent update, they even have a mod which lets them mark wounded targets for friends). Assault rifles are down-and-dirty fighters, yes, like in CoD, but who cares? Guns were around before CoD, weren’t they?

    This review is not fair to the game, because the reviewer saw guns and immediately thought “this is going to be like CoD.” I’d really appreciate a redo.