APB GamesCom 2009 PreviewBy Andrew Pfister - Posted Aug 19, 2009
Even behind GamesCom's closed doors, Realtimeworld's action-MMO-Killatorium APB wasn't playable for media. But we still got to see the developers playing it live in front of us. For the uninitiated, APB is an online third-person shooter for the PC (currently, more on that later) from the developers of Crackdown.
But don't expect super-agents leaping from rooftop to rooftop: APB is from the streets. Players are divided into Criminals and Enforcers, and it's the latter faction we got to see in action today. The two RTW employees running the demo in the room met their offsite colleagues in the game and "pledged up," accepting a quest to launch a raid mission against the Criminal contingent. After conveniently spawning a car (you can spawn cars at garages, gas stations, and near your base -- otherwise, it's procure-on-site), our freelance law enforcers set off to the first of nine mission phases. They were soon met by the Criminal team and a battle for the various control points began. Enforcers have the ability to arrest criminals instead of merely killing them in the line of duty -- what that does is increases the respawn wait from 10 seconds to 30 seconds. It's also pretty embarassing to be on your knees in handcuffs while your partners in crime continue the fight without you.
During the battle, we got to see a bit of the chaos involved in a typical APB street war. Because it's a persistent MMO, players not involved in this mission would still be visible and were able to drive through the action. On this particular rule set that the RTW team chose, they couldn't fire upon or blow anything up to disrupt or harm the mission participants, but there's a "Chaos" rule set that indulges the griefer masses.
Mechanically, it's all third-person gunplay. As of right now, there's no cover system and no melee attack, though both options will be evaluated in upcoming betas, and added if the dev team finds the feedback persuasive enough.
As someone who hasn't dedicated himself to a PC shooter in far too long, APB has definitely got my attention. It's a 2010 release (they're saying Q1), but the beta period is scheduled to begin in the next couple of months. As for console appearances, RTW wants to launch on PC first and establish the game as a success, instead of being distracted by concurrently developing and launching 2 or 3 different versions of the game. That's not a bona fide confirmation, but signs are pointing to "eventually."