The online game APB and parent company Realtime Worlds sparked controversy last year when Realtime Worlds went under and APB was shut down just two months after launch. APB was a team-based, pay-to-play, third-person shooter MMO which pitted two player factions (enforcers and criminals) against one another for control of San Paro city.
The game was originally developed by David Jones, a developer behind Grand Theft Auto and Crackdown, and borrowed concepts from his previous work. Deep levels of customization were among APB’s strongest qualities, enabling players to create unique characters, weapons and vehicles.
APB received mixed reviews earning most of its criticism from gameplay issues (namely driving and shooting, of all things) as well as rampant exploitation. Fans of APB were excited and anxious when the game was bought out by GamersFirst in November. The plan is to relaunch the title in the first half of this year. The new APB, conveniently named APB:Reloaded, is switching over to the ever popular free to play model featuring in-game micro-transactions. A closed Beta is scheduled to begin in February.
The publishers have mentioned that customization will still be available to all players; but the most complex levels will be reserved for premium (paying) clients. GamersFirst has also made it clear that they will actively combat “cheaters” and “hackers” from ruining the gaming experience. There has been no mention of gameplay changes, so we will have to wait and see where any more improvements come from.
Hopefully GamersFirst will take the chance to fix the poor vehicle handling, player matchmaking and establish a system where damage done is relevant to where you shot your opponent (in the original game shooting someone in the head did the same damage as the hand). The new publishers have a chance to create a truly wonderful gaming experience. I’m excited to see the direction they take APB.
Players can sign up for their shot at a Beta invite at GamersFirst’s APB site here: http://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/. You can also keep up to date on the company’s plans for the game by following their CEO Bjorn Book-Larsson’s blog at http://apbreloaded.blogspot.com/.