I could make this a very short piece by saying that APB: Reloaded is simply as fun now as it has ever been. The game is a blast in more ways than one. Heck, I could close it right now by telling you that not only was my return to the game well worth the effort but also that it also served to slap me on the side of the head to say, "Hey, dummy, remember how fun it is to run over people?" I'd rather give you more details, though, especially for those of you who might not have played the game or haven't played it in a long time.
APB: Reloaded is essentially a lobby-based shooter. The lobby -- or social district, as it is called -- and the instanced battle arenas are massive places. While I livestreamed the game last week (you can watch the embedded video after the cut), someone accurately commented that watching it was like watching "GTA Online." I agree, but it's also so much more than that. Join me past the cut and I promise not to run you over.
(EDIT: I was able to order an APB: Reloaded box from Newegg.com for $7.99 USD which contains "over $50 value" like a permanent Magnum gun, a Cisco car, 500 G1 credits and 30 days of premium. I paid no shipping fees at all and received it within three days of ordering, but after this article went live.)
The true standout in APB: Reloaded is in the customization. I'm not just talking about character customization; the original developers wanted players to tweak everything about the gaming experience. You can outfit your characters in standard or store-bought clothing, but you can also make custom logos, use different paint schemes, and pretty much tweak your toon until you pass out. You can take the same approach to the streets as well. Even a basic freebie car can be painted and decorated. Your guns can be covered with different skins, and you can load up your character with different weapons and try different combat styles as you wish. The amount of customization in APB:Reloaded is insane. It's not surprising that many people just go with a stock look, however, because the tools and choices can be overwhelming. I have barely begun to change the look and feel of my character and have not even found a favorite weapon because I keep finding myself having too much damn fun to stop and decorate.
You can choose between two factions: Enforcers and Criminals. We all know that only cool people choose crims and dorks choose the cops, but the side you choose will affect the in-game missions you get and even some of the abilities you have access to. You can find a contact in game easily and can choose between playing solo or with open groups, and you'll be sent to break into cars, deliver "packages," spray paint walls, and any number of other fantastically evil things. Along the way you'll be pitted against the Enforcers, who act more like a group of heavy-handed vigilantes. The coppers can be just as ruthless as the criminals and can even arrest you in the middle of a crime. It's sort of like freezing you and placing cuffs on you, but one of your teammates can come along and break you out. Most of the time I was arrested (and that was a lot), I just sat there until the timer ran out and I respawned.
Watch live video from massivelytv on TwitchTV
The maps are very large, but after a while it's easy to become familiar with them. One of my favorite missions sends teams out to rescue an armored truck. One team grabs it, jumps in the driver's seat, and tries to keep it for as long as possible. Because the truck is massive, it can push its weight around easily. It will switch hands many times; the emphasis on vehicular combat makes me giggle every time. In fact, my main strategy in the game is never to be number one in kills or acheivements. Nope, there will always be someone better than I am at that. My favorite thing is to grab a car, drive around the goal area, run over enemies, and only pop out when I see a good place to hide and pick off the enemy with a sniper rifle. I also adore grenades even though I am sloppy with them. I'm working my way to a grenade launcher.
The cheating that has always supposedly plagued the game has never really dampened my fun. Sure, I get killed a lot, but I can promise you that most people do. Are there still cheaters or "hackers" or "aim-botters" in the game? Maybe. Possibly. Probably. The only thing I know is that occasionally I get in a good shot or two and occasionally so does my enemy. Because you can literally buy the most powerful weapons in the game with real money, it's probably a more common issue for a player to own a very, very powerful gun that results in his being called a "hacker." It's such a common phrase that I can promise that it's not as common as players would make it seem; it's not as if the entire server stops being able to play the game. I also noticed that some of the most dedicated players speak out against "hackers" the most. It's possible that these players come across hackers more often, but it's also possible that they do not represent most players. In high-end PvP, there is always someone better than you. This usually results in cries of "hacker!" Do hackers plague the game? Not that I can tell.
The cash shop sells powerful weapons, cars, decorations... everything you could want is in there, and it's not cheap at all. The shop offers rentals and permanents, but I cannot stand to rent. Even though renting is in reality a pretty good deal, I'd rather own an item I buy online. Still, the shop also lets players "try out" certain cars and weapons, and let me tell you, there is no more powerful selling tool than that. I tried out a wickedly fast car from the shop and was amazed at how fun it was to drive. It turned like a miracle and was so fast that I almost plopped down the cash to buy it right then. Another player who jumped in the passenger seat exclaimed "Where did you get this car?!" After 30 minutes, it disappeared.
As a point of comparison, my main weapon has been the N-HVR 762 sniper rifle. I got it for 3676 in-game dollars for a 10-day rental. In the cash shop, a similarly powered weapon (seen on the right in the screenshot above) would cost 30 US dollars, roughly, for a permanent weapon. The issue is not access to these powerful weapons for free players; it's an issue of time. It takes quite a while to build up enough to buy items with in-game funds that are comparable to the cash-shop items, but you can get some decent gear pretty quickly. If you watch the embedded stream, you'll see that I earned 2100 in-game dollars within an hour... and I suck.
APB: Reloaded is one of those games that will just make you laugh out loud. I kept telling my wife, "Look at this! Did you see that shot I made? Whoa, look at how high that guy flipped!" before realizing that Doctor Who was much more important to her. Even she loved the game in the past thanks to its immensely creative tools, but I love the fact that the truly mean-spirited players appear to have left the game. What's left now are the ones who really want to have a good time or who really want to kill you. Both make for good opponents. Is there cheating going on in the game? Oh, I'm sure of it, but I'm also sure there's cheating in almost every PvP game out there.
The cash-shop prices can be ridiculous; there's no denying that. But I actually prefer a game to charge bold prices and deliver amazing toys like the car I borrowed. It needs to be pointed out that you'll pay the same amount for Guild Wars 2 or a copy of The Secret World that would get you a killer gun and car in APB: Reloaded. That's not a bad deal, at all.
GamersFirst and APB: Reloaded have been growing, even branching into a new title. I'd like to see a new open map or two soon, though, because the ones I played on over these last few weeks are the same ones I've played on since the beta. Other than that, get your gun, steal a car and watch out for cops. See you in the game!
MMOs are constantly changing, and our opinions can change with them. That's why we're here to give some beloved (or not) games a second (or third) look. Has that game that was a wreck at launch finally pulled itself together? How do the hits of yesteryear hold up today? That's what we're here to find out as Massively gets its Second Wind!