APB was a game with an amazing concept, and often times we forget about that fact. However, thats not to say that it wasn't without many flaws. Were it not for these flaws that were released into the game with Real Time Worlds rush to meet a deadline, it would have turned out to be an amazing game. Still, with the release of APB: Reloaded as a free to play game, i can't help but look back and remember my time with APB, and all the fun it brought me in its short lived time.
The first thing that was so unique about this game was the cityscape and the players. While playing it, I saw an expansive city that was easy to get lost in, and I am certain i would have, if not for the oh so helpful minimap. These large cities made for a wonderful setting for the car chases and shootouts that were taking place all around you. In addition, the billboards and spray art displayed on them,which was done by other players, helped to add to the sense of a city plagued by gangsters and thugs. To see a car with people hanging out of it, chased by a Jericho Super V20 with blaring Enforcer lights really got your attention. There were no two cars that were alike in the entire game, after each and every person had their way with one that is. The huge level of customization in itself was a thrill to experience. Not just the cars, but also the characters. I saw well dressed Criminals, robbing banks in class, and thuggish Enforcers hunting them down like dogs. The entire game was set up beautifully. However, that all only happened if you were rocking a monster of a game system. The gamer with a stock PC, or slightly outdated hardware could never hope of standing up to the people using top of the line rigs. The difference in quality for the game, and the speed at which it ran was just too big a difference. A good PC would make it a great game, but a standard one would make it a nightmare of lag and frustration.
However, when the people who could run the game had finally emerged,and all those who could run it only slightly had quit it became apparent that some players were just in a league all their own. And why not? Who are we to try to make other people play poorly just because we aren't as dedicated as them? However, APB's original matchmaking system decided that it would tackle that problem. It, in theory, would separate good players from bad players so that matchups remained consistent. Again though, Real Time Worlds (RTW), must have been in a rush to release this game, as the matchmaking system didn't perform as well as it should have. What happened in actuality was that it would rank you based on your number of wins and losses for missions. All a good player had to do in order to get some easy wins was throw a few missions, and then it became a walk in the park. However, APB did try to keep things even. As a team, I and a few others would sometimes go up against 2 higher ranked players. The concept worked rather nicely in some cases, but as expected, it was by no means perfect, and we occasionally ended up fighting a losing battle that was hopelessly in the enemies favor, regardless of our numbers.
Missions were one of the center points of this game, and they were undoubtedly fun. Often times just as I thought my team was home free, a gang of Criminals would show up randomly and take us all out in a surprise attack. Naturally, it was just as satisfying to crush them when our roles were reversed. In APB the were massive numbers of NPC's who had rewards affiliated with them for doing enough missions for them. And these NPC's were spread out through the city. The excitement i felt when I finally earned the Grenade Launcher was unimaginable, and I was unstoppable...that is until 5 or 6 criminals joined in on the other side. Then, being outmanned and outgunned I would frantically call for backup, but none would ever arrive. This was one major flaw with APB in its original release. The game didn't guarentee that you would get back up if you got in trouble. This sometimes, if not often times led to missions ending early because people would forfeit, or players feeling cheated, because they were so close to winning, only to be screwed over by the system. On top of that, missions, which were fun, could often times be unfair, unbalenced, impossible to win. Such an instance was during a VIP mission. The Criminals had to assassinate yours truly before time ran out. However, i did something I'm not proud of. I climbed a building and camped. Too often this is what would happen with VIPs, they would hide way up high and camp it out. Unable to reach them in large numbers, the Criminals almost always lost when they were in that position. In addition, we sometimes hopped in a car if we couldnt find a building, and would drive around the city for the 15 minutes we had to survive, and not once could the criminals catch up because there were no restrictions on our movements or any goals we had to fulfill. This made the game somewhat unbalanced in these situations, and slowly began to drive players away.
In many shooters, balance is the key. In APB, this key was ignored. Certain weapons, such as the N-tec Assault Rifle were annoyingly over powered. If you didn't use one, you basically stood no chance. This gun, which resembled the AK-47 had very high damage, very good accuracy, a quick fire rate, a good sized clip, and a range almost rivaling that of the sniper. This left very little options for a change in gameplay, and i felt forced to switch to usinga gun I wasn't particularly fond of, but had no other choice. Then, when the developers tried to take a positive step, and they slightly nerfed the N-Tec, they got a wave of hate mail and negative feedback from the small group of users who loved their amazing gun. "Alright, So What?" you may be asking. "It's just a gun right? Everyone has one, so it's fair." Well, in theory, but one factor makes you wrong. Upgrades. It was a very nice idea on the part of RTW, but they neglected one bit. These upgrades were truly that. Upgrades. they held no disadvantages, and could only be applied to certain higher grade versions of the guns, which only people who had played the game for a long time had access to. This made it nearly impossible to have a fair firefight in nearly every single mission.
Still, I relished those days of haning out of muscle cars blasting away at the Criminal scum fleeing from my righteous fury, but APB simply had one flaw too many for me, and many others. the $10 a month subscription simply didn't match the service we were getting, and so we began to drift away. However, with the coming release of APB: Reloaded, and the new management of the game, I find that it might just be worth taking another look at the game, and maybe, just maybe it will be a fine product. it saddens me that i can't give this game higher than a 6, and even then, it's generous. I hope that one day we can look back at this review and smile, knowing that the new APB has come such a long way from the days of old.