PAX EAST 2010: APB PreviewBy Andrew Pfister - Posted Mar 26, 2010
What We Know: APB is the MMO crime game you never knew you always wanted. It puts players in the middle of a blighted urban hellscape, and encourages them to join either of two sides, the Enforcers or the Criminals, a/k/a the cops or the robbers. The game design was led by David Jones, creator of the original Grand Theft Auto and Crackdown, and is being developed by Realtime Worlds, so this is definitely one to watch.
What We Saw: Last time we had a look at Realtime Worlds’ All Points Bulletin was at GamesCom in Germany last autumn. It wasn’t playable and they really weren’t saying much back then, but here at PAX East, a playable demo of A.P.B. is getting a considerable amount of attention.
Behind the stage, we got to see a private demonstration of the game’s insane customization options. Nearly everything about your play experience can be created from scratch using a suite of in-game tools and editors, including what your persona looks like, the clothing he or she wears, the vehicle you drive, and the symbols and graphics you can plaster everywhere. There’s even a 6-track music editor that you can use to create a custom death theme (which I will definitely use to make the tender piano death theme from Lost as mine). Everything you create in the game can be sold to less artistically-inclined players using the game’s marketplace (relax, it’s in-game currency, not real dollars).
After our customization demo, I got to hop onto a station back out on the floor and join the PAX attendee battle. The mission I joined wasn’t particularly thrilling - find and tag specific locations with graffiti - but it gave me a quick introduction to the core driving and shooting mechanics. Driving, whether it was a big whale of a car or a small and speedy 4-door, had a definite weight to it, and it took some time to adjust to longer brake times and wider steering. On the other hand, shooting felt instantly good, and even though I only had the chance to test out a mid-range SMG, I managed to deal a modest amount of damage before some jerk named "Dmitri" starting picking us criminals off one-by-one perched on a rooftop with a longer-range assault rifle. So that part wasn’t much fun... thankfully the respawn wait time is low and you get dropped back into the game not too far from your current objective.
Realtime has clearly been spending a lot of time working on balance, customization, and community features (they’re definitely listening to pre-release feedback and already thinking about future plans for updates), so it will be interesting to see the initial wave of Enforcer vs. Criminal combat when the game’s finally released.