APB Reloaded (Free-to-Play) PC Review
Peter Donnell / 431 days ago
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You may have already heard of APB, it was originally released in 2010 as a retail game, but unfortunately the creator Realtime Worlds, found that the game wasn’t a commercial success and the company went into administration not long after it’s release. Fortunately for us gamers it was sold off for a mere £1.5million, no doubt a fraction of what the core game cost to develop.
It’s now owned by K2 Network, who have beaten and tweaked it back into it’s new free-to-play format, then ran the beta for 6 months while they worked out all the kinks, and was finally given a concrete release last December on Steam.
The main premise of APB Reloaded in a nutshell, is simple, cops and robbers / good vs evil, it’s up to you to decide which path you want to walk. When your start the game, your asked if your new character is going to be an Enforcer or a Criminal, you can make more than one character, so don’t worry too much if you change your mind later, but all money, rewards, level ups etc and tied to that character and not to your account as a whole.
Character customisation is a big thing in APB, it begins fairly basic, but once you have some earn’t some cash that you feel isn’t required to purchase weapons and ammo, you can head over to the games plaza district, where you can buy clothes, tattoos and get your hair done. I went for a fairly sensible looking player, from what I saw in game, I was the only person that did! oh the memories of how many times I got killed by a blue coloured man wearing tight pants and suspenders, or a female vampire clown. There are a lot of options to go for, but in my opinion, when a game lets you wear a different fully customised sock on each foot, you know they really mean “custom”.
Once your done playing dress up with your digital Barbie Doll, you are thrown a back story cutscene about how sociaty is a ruddy mess and it’s up to you to keep ruining it / cleaning it up, although to be honest, I caused just as much chaos as an Enforcer, the civilians have a habit of eating bullets and if their car isn’t getting jacked then it’s getting commandeered anyway, those poor citizens suffer endlessly, awwww.
There are a couple of options once your ready to go, you have a choice of two districts, Financial and Waterfront, the first being down town and the latter along the coast, both offer the same experience and are both generously sized maps to accommodate around 100 players all going nuts in their crazy outfits and tricked out vehicles. You also have two more areas which are essentially just for shooting the hell out of the opposing team, there are no missions in these areas, but all your customisation options are still aloud, custom weapons too, it can get pretty messy, but it is a lot of fun.
Missions are simple fair at first, they boil down to fetch this, deliver this, protect this, destroy that, it’s nothing special, but the complexity does increase as your skills improve and you’ve levelled up a little. You can do missions on your own, or you can have it pair you up with a handful of strangers / friends, most of the time I ended up in a 5-v-5 scenario using the auto find players option, it found them quickly too. You can leave the group at any time without quitting the district, the level of freedom this offers you is great, very handy if you have a team of people who have just wanders off to make a cup of tea instead of help complete the mission.
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Prestige or Notoriety level are the next important features, Prestige for Enforcers, Notoriety for Criminals, each going on a scale from 0 to 5, this levels up dependant on your actions. As a criminal, commit crimes, kill people, shoot police, be naughty and you will gain notoriety. At level 0 you’ll be left in peace, wandering the streets, but at level 5 you’ll have a bounty on your head and will be free to kill any other player in the district, the higher your notoriety the greater cash rewards you receive for completing missions. The same applies to Enforcers, only you gain Prestige through completion of missions, taking down criminals and such things, but you will loose it for killing innocents and generally getting your ass kicked.
The game it’s self runs on Unreal Engine 3, graphics are crisp and bright, I’m running the game maxed out 1920x1080p 4x AA on an AMD 955 BE quad core 3.6 cpu and a EVGA GTX 460, frame rate never drops below 50-60fps for me, I previously tried the beta with a 3.2 Dual core and a ATI 5770, frame rates were not fantastic, but any mid range gaming system should be able to max this out without much trouble. The servers have been kind to me too, very quick loading times, not had any problems with lag on a 5mbs broadband connection.
The game has a stunning sound track too, with everything from death metal to classical music to suit your taste, if that isn’t your boat then you can always import you mp3 collection and add it to the game, it will even stream your music so people near your vehicle will hear what your listening to blasting out the car as you pull up, which I thought was pretty awesome.
This being a free to play game means there is a lot of paid extras, although “A LOT” would be an understatement, there is a lot of content to this game, from spare change purchases to full on premium memberships, which I think works out about £9 for 30 days, bonuses include earning loads of extra cash and EXP in the game, massive discounts on bonus items, more customisation options and so much more to list, but I’ve played this game all week and haven’t felt once that I’m missing out on too much, there is more than enough to keep you going for weeks on end, if your still playing by that point your likely going to be tempted to spend some loose change on some of the extras though, levelling up is slower on the free accounts, but it’s not unbearable.
Overall I’m very happy with the game, I only intended to play this one for the week to review it, but it’s going to be staying on my steam account for as long as it’s available and running, with it’s excellent matchmaking options, constantly updated stores and extensive gameplay structure and customisation options, it will be a long time before I get bored of this title. The game it’s self makes me think of Brink crossed with GTA, if your a fan of both those games then this is an essential game for you, of course it’s also an excuse to play cops and robbers, a game we all play less (if ever) in adult life. This game has earn’t our gamers choice award with honours.
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