APB Review

Written by Phill Cameron

July 6, 2010 | 10:35

Tags: #all-points-bulletin #apb #apb-free #apb-mmo #apb-review #mmo

Companies: #realtime-worlds

APB Matchmaking

APB is divided into two types of district. Social districts are free, but can only be used to chatting and trading. Action districts soak up your subscription, but are where all the missions take place – criminal missions focus on stealing things, while enforcer missions are about stopping them. Completing missions lets you gather cash, prestige and more guns, but each district has a population cap of 100 players.

Regardless of what you want to do, you’re going to get incessant mission offers, spaced maybe ten seconds apart. If you’re planning on doing one of the non-mission based ways of making money in the game, such as ram raiding or mugging, then it’s best to make sure you pack your earplugs.

The negative effects of this nagging are beyond mere annoyance though. Because you’re given these dispatches so often, you tune them out, your finger learning to press the ‘N’ key almost as soon as the sound pops up. The problem is that the computer has asked you because it thinks you are the best match for that mission and you’ve said no. So, the computer asks the next person on the list, meaning the matchmaking fails nearly every time.

*APB Review APB Matchmaking
What we wanted to look like

You see, players have a threat level that’s indicated by a little icon and which is based on how many successful missions they’ve had in a row. Most of the time you get a dispatch offering you a mission against three players with a higher threat level, so you assume you aren’t going to win and you refuse the mission.

People don’t like losing. They don’t even like anything particularly challenging most of the time, especially when they’re going to be outnumbered. So, when you present them with an indicator that their chances of victory are suddenly in jeopardy, they’re going to refuse the offer, thank you very much.

So, now you’ve got a situation where people only go up against weaker players, and every time you get offered the option to start a mission you decide it’s probably best not to, as you’d surrender the option to pick and choose your fights.

Then, once you enter a mission, it’s not even that fun. Everyone takes about an entire clip of whatever gun you’re carrying to kill, and while sneaking up one people does work, in a fair fight the person with the better gun will always win. The guns come in sort of informal tiers, unlocked as you level up contacts and factions. Choosing the right gun is essential to winning – the SMG always trounces the awful starting rifle, for example, and the N-Tec 5 (read: AK-47) is pretty much the last gun you’ll need. Or at least, it would be if there weren’t weapon upgrades.

*APB Review APB Matchmaking
What we did look like

It’s at about this point that we have to wonder what Realtime Worlds were thinking. The N-Tec 5 being hilariously unbalanced is one thing, but give someone an N-Tec 5 with a tonne of power and ammo upgrades, and you’re going to be rage-quitting faster than they can reload. Which, thanks to his upgrade, is pretty bloody fast.

A review is a buyers guide, first and foremost, so, first and foremost, don’t buy this game, purely because if you ever wanted a chance of having a fair fight, you should’ve preordered and played since the early start. If you start playing right now then you’ll have to cope with the fact that everyone you’ll play with (because of the terrible matchmaking) will have better guns than you. If you wait a week or more to pick APB up then the other players will have to time to move from simply better weapons to true omnipotence.

This isn’t a problem for most other MMOs because higher level characters never fight weaker ones. They can become hilariously powerful because the things they’re fighting have scaled up in power along with them. APB, in choosing to be entirely PVP, can’t do that. The instant one gun was better than another it failed as a game. It’s stupid design, on a fundamental level. If I was going to get insulting, I’d call it lazy. It is lazy.
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