APB Action District
There’s a chance that most of these balancing problems wouldn’t matter if the combat was actually any good, but it isn’t. It’s full of circle strafing, bunny hopping and little else. People don’t use cover because you can’t shoot from behind it, so the best strategies players can muster are a little flanking and suppressing.
Even then, APB
’s performance rarely allows you to eke enjoyment from it’s crusty kernel. We met every single one of the recommended requirements except for a 64-bit OS (which is only encouraged), but textures are still locked on low, and it takes five minutes of loading for the district archietecture to be completely built. Even then, driving is a nightmare of stutters and low framerates. It’s a good thing we played as criminals given how often we crashed into things.
The real disappointment on the graphical front though is how redundant it makes the customisation options. For all those hours we spent in the game’s designer creating a unique look, all we actually get is a blurry mess that looks a bit like what we designed. A glance at the Steam hardware survey
reveals (when compared against our rig) that 40 percent of users may have similar issues which, for a mass-market game, is unforgivable.
Look, Ma! I'm a juvenile delinquent!
The reality is then that, regardless of how tempting it looks, APB
doesn’t provide an entertaining game space to play in. There is a little variety in environments, from parks to alleyways, to half built highways and warehouses, but the objectives are only placed in a set number of locations, all of them leaning towards someone defending the spot from attack. If you don’t get there first, you’re always going to be on the back foot.
The objectives themselves range from boring to frustrating. Sometimes they’re merely pick up missions, tasking you with taking an item from A to B, which doesn’t upset too much, so long as the item doesn’t lag through a wall. The worst of them places one arbitrary member of your team as a VIP, forcing you to keep them alive while the opposition tries to kill them a set number of times. If they’re in a bad position or have a bad gun, you’re doomed.
The same goes for the deathly boring Escape missions, which forces you to avoid breaking any laws while a bar slowly fills. And by ‘slowly’ I mean it takes at least four minutes of the five on the clock to finish. So if you crash more than a few times, you’re screwed, and still
have to wait for the timer to run out.
The lack of variety is one thing, but the fact that every single contact gives out the same ones is just insulting. They all have some voice acting that differentiates them, and when you max them out you get a unique reward, but beyond that there’s nothing to separate one from another. You don’t even know what the reward is until you obtain it.
Steal cars? Real criminals steal ambulances!
This lack of information is rife throughout the game. Going into the clothing shop, a good 80 percent of clothes are locked off, but nowhere does it explain how you can gain access. APB
does a better job with guns and vehicles, where the most predominant requirement is player rating, but what rating is is never really explained either. APB
may be the only MMO that needs a recommended reading list.
Outside of the Social District, it’s difficult to find anything that APB
does particularly well. Before release, it was lauded that your character would be able to gain fame and fortune through their actions. This is attempted through a system of notices that flash up on screen, such as ‘So and so achieved X’. Unfortunately, achievements are utterly inconsequential and happen so often when you’ve got a pot of a hundred people doing stuff that it’s hard to care.
Despite the game working against it, though, people do start to become familiar names. A particularly troublesome enemy, someone with a catchy death tune or a really striking look will start to stand out in your mind after you’ve fought them a few times. Interacting with and taunting other players is one of the few places that APB
creates any sort of personality.