All Points Bulletin (APB) Review
All Points Bulletin (APB) box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Real Time Worlds 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Electronic Arts 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: June 29, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: MMO 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Visually, APB holds its own in the current generation. However, the game does seem to run a little sluggish even with a PC well over the recommended system requirements. Whether this is an optimization problem or just a result of having 80 players with hundreds of AI moving around, lowering the settings is certainly helpful and advised. Of course, this could also be impacted by the sheer number of unique styles.

All Points Bulletin (APB) screenshot

For example, when loading into the social district, the player will notice that all the surrounding players are wearing the exact same thing (blue jeans, with a green t-shirt, and backwards baseball cap). The game must process all the unique characters on the screen after the map is loaded, which obviously takes some time. If you were to compare the graphics to any other game, APB would probably fall short to the likes of Grant Theft Auto 4, but not by too much.

While players can sink hours into the different aspects of the social district, and do so for free, the action districts are another story and may be part of APB’s weakness. Completing missions is how players advance their characters and make them more adaptable and powerful. The missions are also the core of the PvP because when players begin a mission, the game automatically matches them against enemy players. And, while there are a large variety of mission types including delivering packages, stealing cars, capturing and holding locations, raiding hideouts, evading police, catching or killing criminals—after a while players will notice the repetition. With that said, because APB is focused entirely on players interacting with each other, how these missions play out each time can be drastically different. Any issues with seemingly repetitive gameplay, however, could be easily rectified by adding new action districts and mission types.

APB’s controls are very easy to grasp. Almost all interaction, whether it’s with another player, a door, a fence, a car, or an item, is handled using a single key. The rest of the controls are your standard first-person and third-person shooter mix. And, while they are easy to learn, there are glitches that make them frustrating to master. For example, getting into the driver’s seat of a vehicle can sometimes be a painstaking task because your crosshair must be directly over the door before you hit the action key. Otherwise, your character may accidentally get into the back seat or not attempt to get in the vehicle at all. In a game where every second wasted could make the difference between getting away or being crushed by an oncoming car, small glitches like that can ruin your experience.

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The sound effects are adequate, but I feel some corners were cut. For example, while many of the weapons do sound different, some sound nearly identical, which can be a bit off when one is a small sub machinegun and the other is a light machinegun, Rambo style. It would have also been nice to have different horn sounds for your vehicles, or maybe even customize your vehicle’s horn completely. Another strange thing you’ll notice about San Paro is that just about anyone can drive an ambulance or armored truck. For example, there have been countless times when I’ve needed a vehicle quickly, opened the door to remove the driver, and noticed that a blonde, teenage girl was driving a city armored truck, or a rather grungy looking man was behind the wheel of an ambulance. Of course, if you’re willing to forgive the control glitches, these other, non gameplay-damaging things shouldn’t force much more than raised eyebrow or laugh. Then again, the heavy-handed and over-the-top voice acting is sure to do the trick anyway.

Running parallel to the sound effects is the game’s music, which is entirely under the player’s control. The game features an already-stocked music library separated into playlists. Players are able to set which playlist they want to play, adjust the volume, and even change settings such as whether it broadcasts their music for other players to hear and whether the music can only be heard when in a vehicle. Better yet is the ability to import your own tracks into the game’s music library, allowing players to set their own playlists that are perfect for committing crimes or catching criminals in San Paro Adding to this technology is the inclusion of Last.fm, which is used to fill the gap between player’s music libraries. For example, if you have a track playing that another player doesn’t have, Last.fm will search and find a similar (if not the same) track and play it for the other player. While the Last.fm technology does feel a bit unnecessary, especially given that its impact on server connections and lag is unknown, it is an interesting experiment. In the end, defining your own music experience doesn’t hurt, and it certainly beats listening to the same repetitive radio stations over and over again like in Grand Theft Auto. Of course, hilarious radio talk shows wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

The last thing worth commenting on is the way players will pay for APB. There are two main ways of paying, which is purchasing hours of action district game time or paying a flat, monthly fee of $10 for unlimited play. Players, after purchasing the full game for the usual price, can determine whether they would rather pay $7 for every 20 hours of game time, or $10 a month for unlimited. Purchasing the game also gives players 50 hours of free game time instead of the traditional 30 days free that comes with most games that charge additional, after-purchase fees. While the initial, knee-jerk reaction to purchasing hours of game time was overwhelmingly negative, the decision to offer distinctly different payment methods is a good one. For starters, it allows more casual gamers to keep playing APB without feeling like they’re wasting $10 every month for a game they aren’t playing that much. However, for the one who can dedicate far more time to playing, the $10 is a small price to pay.

APB is a fairly unique offering by most modern online gaming standards. It definitely shines brightest because of its deep and fun-to-use customization features. On the other hand, its core, shooter-style gameplay doesn’t necessarily miss the mark either, with the exception of the few bugs and glitches with the visuals and controls. APB is the first game to allow players to take their Grand Theft Auto habits and experiment with them against a large body of potential victims. If you’re looking for some solid shooter fun, character progression, and customization features, APB is probably right for you. And, with the two distinct ways of paying, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got two jobs or you’re unemployed.

By Derek Hidey
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.5
Graphics
Visually adequate; the graphics won’t win any awards.
3.0
Control
Traditional third-person controls are comfortable and familiar, but hindered by a few technical bugs and glitches that can make the simplest task frustrating and overly complicated.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Decent sound effects coupled with a built-in and import capable music library is well appreciated.
4.0
Play Value
Deep customization drives the core shooter gameplay, which is only held back by a fear of repetition and a few bugs.
3.5
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Creativity – APB has an ‘expression suite’ of in-game customization tools. Any items created with these tools can be traded or sold to other players through the Marketplace.
  • Persona – One of the most in depth character creation systems ever seen, allowing players to tweak thousands of parameters, to create physically unique and lifelike characters.
  • Music Studio – A fully fledged sequencer style music studio, allowing players to create their own ‘death themes’.
  • Designer – Which allows players to create imagery they can apply to pretty much anything they want. Tattoos, clothing, vinyls on vehicles, clan logos, spray tags, etc.
  • Garage – An area where players can customize vehicles to their hearts content. Change the colors, add symbols and imagery, add body kit parts, modify the speaker system, players can even change the exhaust sound!


  • Screenshots / Images
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