Friday, June 10, 2011

Taking a break from elves: my adventures in APB: Reloaded

Most of the games I play are fantasy MMOs. With that said, having a sniper rifle with me and a speeding car is a huge break from killing goblins and orcs!

The first big question was: Criminal or Enforcer? Personally, so far, I prefer to play as an Enforcer. That means I am a cop, with the choice to shoot down criminals or arrest them. Also, killing civilians by mistake will lower my rating, which makes me gain less money while completing missions. It is an extra challenge, since their A.I. to get out of the way is not the best, and probably with the purpose to make life a little more difficult to Enforcers. Also, the idea of pretending to be a criminal is not entertaining to me, though I might try the criminal side later.

Very first impressions were, of course, about the gorgeous character creator. You can be pretty and chubby, or skinny and ugly, or muscular and meanie looking. You'll be able to revisit it later in the game, but it will cost you game-money (not cash). The tutorial covers most things, like equipping you primary and secondary weapons and accessories and how to complete missions. And before you go shooting, remember this: people with names in grey you simply can't hurt in any way. Only those with names in red (enemies) and green (allies) and be hurt by you. So yeah, friendly fire exists, and the punishment for it is quite rough! You become ally/enemy when dispatched for a mission. If there isn't a group/person that matches your skill level, you won't be bothered, but if there is, watch your back, because someone if coming after you. That is called "oposition", and grants more rewards then just completing missions in peace.

Once done with the tutorial, you are asked to pick a district. This will also happen everytime you log into your character. Social is where you do all the fluff related activities, like compose your wardrobe, looks, create symbols and music and customize and buy new cars. It's the "customization mall", and nobody can shoot around here. Just look for the kiosks with the respective symbols. Financial and Waterfront districts are where the action is. I highly recommend accepting the option to automatically group with those around your level of skill. Stay together and try your best not to shoot your own friends or run them over with a car.

 So the game basically works in different maps, and each can hold up to 100 players. I do believe they control it so that it's 50/50 between criminals and enforcers, but while it is not yet full, some maps will show some difference on those numbers.

When you are lucky and get a good team, you'll probably be in a car with another 3 buddies, storming around the city doing missions and taking down your enemies. It's fast paced and easy to sort roles. The city maps are well made, it is easy to find cover and good shooting spots, but they are always reachable from another way. So far, I have not found a "perfect" spot where people simply could not come up with a way to end my sniper happiness. Groups can get pretty big, my record being of 6 people so far, when you call for backup and more people join your team.

Weapons are what I'd call "balanced", but then, this is the very first PvP shooter game I've ever played in my life. And by "balanced" I mean that, even though I can kill an enemy with one shot from the distance with a sniper rifle, I am horrible in short range combat. Then again, my sniper rifle is big and heavy, and I can't sprint while carrying it, just slowly run. I also can't use it from the window of a car. On those occasions I equip my secondary little pistol, which is an easy mouse scroll away, but still in disadvantage  if I just bump with an enemy equipped with a machine gun. Although such situations make me curse out loud, I am happy this kind of balance is present in the game.

The simplicity of the controls are like a vacation from playing EQ2 and LotRO. Shoot, interact, throw grenades, use accessories. I don't need to click anything at all, I use my mouse just to point, shoot and direct my camera. Another great point in APB is the huge amount of it is fun and full of possibilities, and goes beyond an appearance tab, since you can really design what you wish on pieces of clothes and cars.

Even though I am a big noob who can't go past threat level bronze 3, I am happy with this game. It is refreshing to do something I've never done before, having to learn and having all these people much better than me to keep challenging me. The social part of the game is huge, since alone you are nobody and won't stand alive long doing missions. Getting a group automatically is also very easy.

Some people say the game still has lots of hackers and bots, but I sincerely can't tell. Maybe those kids are just plain better than me and I can't tell the difference yet.

Please send in tips and suggestions for this inexperienced shooter player if you have any :)

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