THE MMO MARKET has boomed during the last few years, with millions of PC gamers paying to play titles such as World of Warcraft, RuneScape and EVE Online every day.
EA has taken the traditional online game model, made a few tweaks to it and wrapped it up in a third-person action parcel set in a modern day, gang-ridden urban environment, Grand Theft Auto-style. However developer Realtime Worlds is keen to stress that All Points Bulletin – or APB – is not a typical MMO.
“We tend not to refer to the game as an MMO – because when most people think MMO they think RPG,” says Realtime World’s lead gameplay designer Jesse Knapp.
“And RPG is what APB is definitely not. It’s a skill-based action game that we wanted to make as fun and accessible to as many players as possible, whether they want to play for two hours or 30 hours a week.”
APB thrusts players into the bustling cityscape of San Paro where they are able to play as a criminal, performing crimes and cruising with a gang of friends, or an enforcer, whose aim is to bring the aforementioned criminals to justice. There are hundreds of missions to complete, locations to explore and numerous gang wars to fight.
Describing APB as a massive online version GTA wouldn’t be an unfair comparison, especially considering that the game has been devised by original GTA and Crackdown creator David Jones.
Meet the family
Realtime Worlds has placed a strong emphasis on customisation in APB, focusing on the many thousands of visual, gameplay and money-making possibilities that players are able to conjure up.
Gamers can create their own custom character and edit every aspect of their being, from the hair on their chins to the clan tattoos on their backs and the colour of their clothing.
Astute users will even be able to design their own logos and badging which can be used to convey their team’s presence – before adding it to clothes, tattoos, advertising billboards and even walls in the form of graffiti.
Depending on the popularity of the custom imagery, players will even have the option to place it in the game’s auction houses and make money by selling branded items, vehicles, weapons and clothing. APB’s payment model also allows these entrepreneurial types of gamers to sell in-game items in exchange for extra playtime.
Knapp adds: “It’s so exciting to be able to create a world where players can come in and create their own identity and their own experiences – whether it be clothing or clans.
“So what we’ve created for them is a toolset and an environment for them to play in. We’re really excited to see what they can do with that from release.
“We’ve already seen some great customisation, uniformed clans and a few player-created competitions. In fact, some of the stuff that players are creating already rivals what our art teams have produced internally so I can only imagine what they’ll be doing in six months.”
The payment model for APB promises to refresh the traditional MMO system, which usually requires consumers to purchase the game and pay a fixed monthly fee to play it.
Gamers will have to buy the game as normal – either in-store or via digital download – for £34.99, which includes a whopping 50 hours of gameplay out of the box. This also allows the user to spend an unlimited amount of time in APB’s social districts that allow customisation, socialising and marketplace trading.
Once the first batch of 50 hours are up, players can top up their game time by 20 hours for £5.59, or an entire month for £7.99 (which EA promises a discount for when booked for 90 or 180 days up front).
What’s really interesting is the fact that – as mentioned – buyers can earn game time by selling their own content and making a name for themselves within the game.
Add this to the gameplay of APB – fast, third-person shooter action – as opposed to long spells of farming or levelling up in other popular MMOs – and the game’s unique appeal really shows its face.
APB is not a game that rewards players for spending large amounts of time, but instead places an emphasis on team-based skill, making the game a unique cross between GTA and Counter Strike rather than World of Warcraft or RuneScape.
APB will be released for PC on July 2nd.