APB Reloaded Review
While sporting a new pricing strategy and an extra ‘Deathmatch’ appendage, the essence of APB Reloaded remains true to the original concept – GTA in MMO form.
The city of San Paro is in disarray with vigilante Enforcers rising up to claim back the streets from an unruly criminal element. Take the side of the Enforcers to stop crims, return stolen cars and clean up the city (and by this we mean painstakingly cleaning graffiti from walls), or play the bad guy and wreak merry hell. It’s as simple as that.
The quality of APB’s concept was always a bloody good one, but it was sadly let down by poor execution and a lack of funds to support a post-launch facelift.
While some of its component parts shone – the character creator and myriad customisation options for cars, tags and audio accompaniment still rank among the games most awesome achievements – they never managed to marry into a cohesive experience.
To reflect the most successful subscription to F2P switches from the likes of Lord Of The Rings Online, APB Reloaded adopts a kind a three-tier system in which you can play entirely for free, speed up your progression – by buying up ‘golden guns and ammo’ – or subscribe to a premium service offering the ultimate APB Reloaded experience.
It’s a move that’s seen more than three million gamers sign up at last count, but this is only half the battle. Most of the original APB’s real problems were gameplay related – the driving model stank and the PvP elements were as unbalanced as the weapons themselves. If they were to get these things right, the players would surely lap it up.
After all, all the industry chatter seems to point to the fact that the days of the ‘classic’ World Of Warcraft-style MMO are numbered and the rise of ‘freemium’ games that inject the immediacy of action into their proceedings are the future. All this puts APB Reloaded on a strong footing.
He only wanted a melon.
Not all MMO gamers want to kill 10 Swamp Rats in return for 1000 XP. Rinsing and repeating the process over 80 increasingly mind-numbing levels alongside enemies that level up with you, essentially making the whole thing a bit of a farce, perhaps isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
The fact that APB Reloaded steers away from this MMO stereotype would be another tick in its favour were it not for the fact that the action on offer still isn’t up to scratch.
While many of the biggest problems have been addressed, they haven’t necessarily been fixed at all. Progression – which was a God-awful mess of ‘what the hell do I do?!’ panic in the original APB – has been fixed slightly thanks to the direction of tool tips to help get you on your feet, but it’s still far from a seamless experience.
The ‘starter’ cars have been tweaked too. While the first cars you drove in the original APB had all the steering prowess of ocean liners, the revamped models are at least functional.
Functional mind you, but still not fun in a ‘GTA’ kind of way. They’re still far too floaty, stopping us from ever really feeling at home behind the wheel.
Elsewhere you might notice that the weapons have been changed to ensure each feels unique with a varying capability with which to kill, maim and humiliate. This coincides with a new PvP-centric district that has been introduced to offer fast and furious deathmatch to all that want it.
Lots has been done to improve the game, but like the driving model or the astronomical loading times, none of these improvements are enough to propel the game into the mainstream.
The new deathmatch mode doesn’t provide the adrenaline it should.
It’s fair to say that APB Reloaded has put into practice all the key lessons the last two years has supposedly taught us about running a successful MMO.
The freemium pricing model and accessible PvP gameplay – without an over-reliance on levelling – are all well and good, but players still need to get hooked on quality gameplay and the kick of adrenaline from their PvP encounters to keep them coming back day-after-day, month-after-month. Sadly the magic just isn’t there.
Perversely, one of the few games that can claim to achieve all these things is Eve Online – a game that’s older than WoW, yet closer to the cutting edge than any other MMO we can think of.
Though technically a subscription game, it – as the original APB promised to do – allows players to easily pay their monthly subscription with in-game currency.
Despite these criticisms – although we wouldn’t wager our high end PC rigs on this – it seems pretty clear to us that APB Reloaded would have fared better had it come out of the gate in its current form. It still wouldn’t have changed the world, but things very possibly could have been different.