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PAX 2009: Massively's first look at gameplay in All Points Bulletin part 2

Kyle Horner

As I witnessed the many breakout shootouts these two encountered while playing the game, it became glaringly apparent that the world of APB was designed with cover in mind. In fact, Chris' narration made certain to point this fact out. There isn't any back-snapping to walls and peeking around corners, but you'll want to crouch behind a sturdy object when reloading or trading bullets with an opponent behind some cover of their own. Although I wouldn't hide behind cars, because they can explode in a very kill-you-good fashion.

In fact, putting some inanimate bullet sponges between you and your target won't be all too difficult, because so very much of the alleyways, roofs and interiors of the city have received plenty of attention from designers. Stairways offer useful vantages points, and the insides of a warehouse make for tight close quarter shootouts. These actions zones have been without a doubt lovingly crafted to enable all kinds of memorable combat encounters.

I'm sure you're aware of this, but customization plays a supremely important role for the game, as anyone who's been following the recent video podcasts can attest to. We knew that custom music would be possible for when players drove around in their vehicles of choice, and that would be able to supply another player with the closest possible track when other players were without a particular song you've chosen. However, we were not aware that upon killing an opposing player, they'll be treated with a nice taste of your own custom tune made with the game's music creator. This could quite possibly be the ultimate form of gloating.

A few things we certainly did not know: There are only two irrevocable choices you're required make: your faction and your gender. Yes, you will in fact be able to change your ethnicity and physical appearance post-character creation. Also, servers will hold 100,000 players, while the action zones and social hubs can hold up to 100 people. Lastly, team sizes in beta are limited to four people, but APB also has the meta group concept where players can call for backup and other players can accept and ride in calvary-style. However, we were told that meta groups are capped at ten people per side or 20 total.

The game world structure seems to be in three parts: social hubs where you can show off, safe zones where you receive faction missions/rewards and action zones which are of course self-explanatory. Those factions we mentioned are how you earn clothing, weapons and vehicles in APB. From what we gathered you can only be a member of one faction at a time, but the rewards are yours once you unlock them so moving between factions for different goodies is a viable option.

Until something is announced, APB is currently a PC-only title – although there's no doubt Realtime Worlds has the desire to bring the game to consoles. We certainly hope they can, especially for all our friends who make silly faces when we tell them about video card drivers and RAM capacity. The vehicle physics result in some really amazing looking car chases and so I had to inquire about official Xbox controller support. While wired and wireless controller support isn't currently in beta, Chris was keen to say there's a possibility for it by launch.

Overall the game really impressed both us and everyone who came out of that presentation. The video we saw wasn't a special edit to make the gameplay look fun. It was just several minutes of actual combat that only made us even more excited for beta and launch in the coming months.

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