But when a mission actually goes to plan the game can be a beautiful thing. A player might sound for backup on a mission and you’ll receive a notification requiring your help. Accept the mission and you’ll sprint down to the objective point to help shred the opposing faction or complete staged objectives. It’s the most exhilarating aspect of the game when it goes smoothly: a strategic online game of cops and robbers that requires legitimate interaction between players. The social aspect of APB is quite literally built-in with VoIP integrated into the game from the moment you join a group, building lines of communication between the lot of you.
In fact, the game is full of impressive, player-centric ideas. The customization suite alone is incredible for how much license it gives players to design their own characters, right down to self-designed clothing and short musical themes that play to opponents you kill. It offers the possibility of recognizing individuals entirely by a personalized van or their clothing. “The one in corduroy,” you’ll say “that’s BaseballFury,” which is a brilliant concept in a 100-man district. Unfortunately, APB’s bright ideas are all stuck on to a sinking foundation of basic in-game issues that should have been dealt with before anyone sat down to innovate.
Realtime Worlds might have desperately been trying to market this as a Persistent Online Shooter, not an MMO, but it still offers the simple and methodical repetition of every standard quest in an MMO of the last decade. Get across town within five minutes to steal a car. Work your way across the street in five minutes to pick up a parcel. Follow your map to a building down the block to clean a wall. But worst of all is how APB continuously manages to cripple the play of its own PVP missions.
Enforcer-vs-Criminal missions inevitably boil down to which faction can get to Objective A the fastest and as an added kick in the teeth, running happens to be the easiest form of transportation. Even after hours of practice, driving handles like you’re steering a mattress down rapids, forcing you to plan your turns entire yards before you get to an intersection. It’s erratic and requires an exorbitant amount of effort just to use a basic aspect of the game.
Unfortunately San Paro is prime real estate for anyone that comes to an MMO to camp on a roof, which becomes the primary tactic for any faction that reaches the significant point first. With no cover system in place, group-work on these missions is more or less a matter of hiding behind an object or shooting downward. Sure there is some gem of PvP in there somewhere, but you have to work far too hard to get there.
Jul 13, 2010