Anti-Aliased: When playing a bad game is just so good

Seraphina Brennan
S. Brennan|07.02.10

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Anti-Aliased: When playing a bad game is just so good
This week's Anti-Aliased is great for two reasons. One, it's the antithesis to last week's topic, and two, it's completely relevant to this week's events. In short, it's about All Points Bulletin.

Did I just call APB a bad game after spamming screenshots from it, hosting an event in it, and offering people what basically amounts to free DLC for their game? Yes, yes I did. Does that make me a complete hypocrite? Well, yes and no. You see, I'm having conflicting beliefs over this game. The reviewer in me wants to punt it over the Seattle Space Needle, but the gamer in me wants to sit down and play the hell out of it some more.

Look, this all makes sense, ok? Just come with me after the break (yes, I'm luring you with my double-sided, purposefully vague statements) and we'll get this all settled out.

The design, she be flawed!

All right, let me get my 2 minute review of APB out of the way first, and let's see if I can pack it all into one, long, bordering-on-run-on sentence.

"What I'm trying to say here is that the core design of the game is flawed."

One quickly realizes after 20 minutes of action district play that the matchmaking is a little goofy, cars drive like portable whales on wheels, contact missions repeat more often than Law and Order on TNT, the animations for interacting with objectives don't always play right, items are cursed by Bizzaro Isaac Newton to forever float awkwardly in mid-air, and weapon balance exists as much as anti-matter exists. Actually, I think I avoided a run-on sentence with my clever use of commas. Nice.

What I'm trying to say here is that the core design of the game is flawed. Instead of feeling like a flowing world, it feels a directed mission system with open-world elements tacked on at the very last moment. Criminals have a better sense of a flowing world, as their shop thefts, car hijacks, and random muggings add a nice spice on top of their missions. Enforcers, on the other hand, can't shoot civilians in a world packed with civilians (unless you want your prestige, the game's way of offering you more rewards, to flush down the toilet) and most of their "open-world" options include either witnessing a crime or impounding the cars stolen by criminals. That's it.

All of this is multiplied by the game's unfortunate performance issues. Since launch, my copy of APB has crashed out six times -- once during each of my play-sessions. Previously, on my 32-bit machine, the game was literally unplayable on a rig that can run Crysis and Age of Conan decently enough. Because it was 32-bit, the game locked me down onto the worst graphics settings and it would still have issues with my 2 gigs of ram, even though the rest of the rig included a quad-core processor and a nVidia 8800GT.

But, I still purchased this game of my own free will, and I'm still interested in actively playing it. Why?

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