Archive for the ‘APB’ Category

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APB: Fun and Done

June 22, 2010

For all the fun I had criming it up in San Paro, last night I decided to uninstall the APB client from my hard drive. In spite of this, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy myself, because I did — every minute of the five hours of game time that came with my free beta key. But while I can certainly appreciate APB for what it is, I don’t think it’s a game I can stick with for the long haul. I know some excellent first impression write ups have already been done by a couple of my fellow bloggers, but I feel I’d be doing this game a great disservice if I didn’t at least attempt to explain why I feel this game isn’t for me.

I stupidly deleted my own APB screenshots when I uninstalled, so here are some stock images!

As much as I wanted to like APB, tried to like APB, at some point I came to realize that maybe I’m just not this game’s target audience and that I should simply surrender to the fact. I know that in my last post about this game I alluded to the idea that this game might not appeal to females, but that’s not what I mean here. After all, you’d sooner find my childhood self playing cops-and-robbers with the neighborhood boys than sitting around a doll house holding a tea party with Barbies. The point is, I can definitely appreciate a good MMOFPS.

But aye, there’s the rub, isn’t it? APB is online and multiplayer, but it lacks many things that I look for when I play MMOs. First and foremost is a reason to commit myself to my character, the story, and the events that unfold in the great big city of San Paro. Unfortunately, this is hard to find when everything is so fast-paced and hectic; one barely has time to step back and take stock of the situation before you’re shooed off by an NPC or your teammates to complete the next timed mission.

AAAAAHHH! Doesn't it ever get quiet around here?!

I just want to point out, however, that this style of play isn’t always a bad thing. My favorite moment in-game was when my criminal found herself chased all over the city by several stubborn enforcers. Outnumbered and struggling to survive, my only choice was to run and elude the other team and hope that help will come soon or that I can catch each of them off guard later and finish them off one by one. If you’re in the mood for this type of stuff, the thrill you get can be very, very satisfying.

But playing fast and loose is only good for me in the short term. While I can deal with things like no classes and no levels, I admit my online gaming tastes do tend to run towards more traditional MMOs and PvE elements. I prefer depth to my progression and meaning to my responsibilities, and try as I might, I couldn’t seem to find that in APB’s turbulent and all-hell-breaks-loose style of gameplay where the emphasis is clearly more focused on faction missions and PvP matchmaking. Like I said, they did not make this game for people like me.

The other thing I’m trying to decide for myself is, is APB an FPS? Sure, play long enough and your character will have access to a plethora of firearms and you’ll definitely get into your fair share of gunfights, but in many ways, this game doesn’t really play like your usual shooter. Now I don’t claim to be an expert at FPSs, but I’ve played enough of them to at least know how best to take someone out while maximizing my own chances of survival at the same time.

Imagine my surprise to discover that even the most rudimentary of tactics — “aim for the head” — does not apply in APB! I could shoot someone six times in the face and it would be the same as me shooting someone six times in the pinky toe. So much for my efforts to get in some headshots. In today’s market where damage-by-location seems to be a staple of all and any shooters out there, this feels like a step backwards to me. While I can see this being beneficial to people who are less skilled, if a casual shooter like myself could find frustration at this, I can only imagine what a hardcore FPS fan would think.

Remember, guys, there's no "I" in "team".

Perhaps it would be best not to label APB as an MMOFPS, and instead call it a team-based action multiplayer online game with guns. To be sure, I get the feeling that the prospects of “winning” in APB has less to do with individual skill and more to do with cooperation between yourself and your fellow players. Teaming up is the way to go, it seems. Not only are you more likely to succeed, the fun-factor also increases greatly when you’re playing in a group.

And finally, I can’t end this post without giving an earnest tip-of-the-hat to APB’s social district where I spent the majority of my time unleashing my inner fashionista and playing around with the craaaazy amount of customization options in the game’s character creation screen. This part of the game is beyond brilliant, and I really can’t stress that enough. APB shines in this area and sets new standards for character customization, and I find this greatly appealing to the artist in me.

In some ways I wish I could justify buying APB just for its avatar creation and clothing design, but obviously I can’t. I had a lot of fun with the PvP shooter elements, but I have to be in a certain mood to truly enjoy it and that style of play is also something I can only take in small doses. With so many new games being developed and released, it’s time to get picky. APB just isn’t want I’m looking for right now, but I’ll be sure to keep my eye on it to see where things go.

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Criming It Up In San Paro

June 14, 2010

Adventurer Historian alerted me to a APB key giveaway last Friday, and thanks to him I was able to be part of the Key to the City pre-launch event, shootin’ it up in-game as a criminal tonight. It took me this long to get into it simply because it took me a better part of two days to download the 7 GB client, due to technical difficulties on my side and theirs. But that’s all behind us now, and I was ready to see what APB has to offer.

Though I’m pretty sure the NDA has been lifted for the KttC event, I’m not going to go into too much detail about the gameplay simply because I’ve only had the chance to play a little bit — just enough to get a feel for it, but not enough to write anything in depth. I will in time, but if you’re looking for more detailed thoughts for now, I recommend going over to AH’s awesome write-up of his first impressions at Combat Archaeology.

I do, however, want to mention the character creator. In fact, I think this was where I spent most of my time. In a word: it’s incredible. I mean, I think this is like the kind of customization I’ve always wanted! For example, I think I once said on my blog about wanting the option to customize my toon right down to the color of my nail polish…well, it was sort of a joke, but whad’ya know, this game’s got it. I could even customize my haircut, specifying how I wanted my fringe, and how long I wanted it at my nape.

Outfit-wise, however, my plan to deck my character out in the skankiest clothes I could find was foiled by the fact that many of the clothing items (often the best looking pieces) have to be unlocked before I can access them.

Sorry guys, but I’m not about to have my character running around the streets of San Paro in nothing but her skivvies either, so I messed around with what was available to me. The goal was to have my character exude an air of I-don’t-give-a-damn…but I was also feeling a little coquettish at the time, so the result was this Patty Hearst meets Punk-Princess-Avril-Lavigne inspired get-up. Whatever, carrying that big ass gun gives me permission to look as ridiculous as I please.

Going overboard with the pink because I don't think I wear it enough in real life.

I also want to relay something else I found quite amusing. APB has built-in VOIP, so I was able to communicate to my teammates while grouping for missions. You can probably guess what was the one thing almost everybody said to me tonight — “Wow, I think you’re the only real female I’ve met in this game so far.”

Well, given its nature I can understand how this game won’t really appeal to many women. Gameplay is hectic and deliciously violent and destructive. A four-car pile-up was the first sight that greeted me the moment I stepped foot out of the beginner’s area. Then, it’s pretty much: here’s your mission, use your gun, kill or be killed. On the surface, it may seem like a relatively shallow experience, but I gotta say, nothing gets the heart pumping like a massive shoot-out or a good old-fashioned car chase with other players.

My character on the lookout, while my teammate drives like a maniac and barely misses the oncoming traffic. Don't try this at home, kids.

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