APB: I must have dreamed a thousand dreams…

It’s time! Time for Open Beta! APB Reloaded is officially open to everyone. Time for the APB Reloaded Open Beta to be pushed back while they fix a NEW Crash-to-Desktop bug! Hurrah! Luckily, that doesn’t really change my review much.

The cash shop is open, and all characters will continue on into live. I said in my last post that calling this “Beta” is like calling an Extra Large Pizza a Starter, it so blatantly isn’t.

Misgivings about the state of the game aside I thought I’d start by finally getting off my chest my true thoughts about this game, and, most importantly, has it lived up to my original expectations?

Realtime Worlds (The games original creators) have created a donkey. A great honking steaming pile of crap, because Gamers First came along and fixed everything that was wrong with it.

Well, mostly. Really they’ve just polished a turd. And covered it in chocolate chips.

You see, they have in their endeavours made the whole game run smoother and faster, for which I applaud them. They have activated Punkbuster and have begun banning hackers, however, as it is a Free-to-Play game they can be swept away only to come back eventually. We shall see how effective their hardware bans are. As for gameplay, they reworked the mission system almost from the ground up and have done an excellent job of it. On the whole though, it’s far from perfect.

They have added their own bugs to the game, inevitably, and certain areas are still underwhelming – like the spawning system. While yes, you will spawn closer to your team mates, and yes, you will spawn closer to objectives, you are almost always likely to spawn either a) in direct line of sight of a sniper – which is bad for you – or b) right next to the sniper – which is bad for whoever notices first. There are still graphical glitches, animation bugs and you do feel at times you’re fighting with the interface.

There are still a myriad of crashes too, but GamersFirst have been squashing more and more of them rather quickly (although I do still find my self bombing out alteast once every couple of hours it’s alot better than the 10 minutes I got when their 1.5 patch first came out) and while the game does run smoother and faster, it’s still using suspiciously large amounts of my computers resources, and does tend to stutter quite often (normally resulting in my death, or careering into a lamppost, or a crash-to-desktop)

As you can see from the screenshot to the right, if your character is outside there is a slight air of heart-of-a-reactor radioactivity about your character as the bloom is complete overkill. Turning bloom off however makes darker areas of the world pitch black, as is anyone hiding in them, so turning the bloom off isn’t an option (and really hurts anyone playing on low-end machines)

For the first time in a long time however, I think I’ve found a shooter where all of the weapons are balanced more-or-less evenly. There’s still the issue of maximum range, where every weapon can shoot 100m, making the ACT44 Pistol (think Desert Eagle) as accurate and as powerful as a dedicated Sniper Rifle, but pale in comparison to the Rocket Launcher and the Grenade Launchers, both of which are the only 1-hit kills in the game (Not even the HVR, which has the highest single-shot damage in the game kills in 1 shot)

The game itself is both fun and frustrating. Getting into a good group is a must and joining a clan is almost a prerequisite. Luckily you can start a clan on your own, so there is less of a barrier for entry than in most games that normally require x number of people to sign up before one can be created. Joining a group, or going solo, can work, and there are one or two things to do outside of missions besides designing things (although mostly for criminals, Enforcers only get to impound cars that criminals have hijacked, whereas criminals get to steal and deliver any car, ram raid shops and mug citizens)

Will I keep playing? Definitely. It lets me indulge both my creative side and my violent thuggish nature all in one neat package. Is it for everyone? Probably not. A good Hard Drive is a must (it caches alot of custom stuff and does tend to stream world geometry from it) but since HDs are what most pre-built PCs shirk on (along with Budget RAM) you may find that meeting the Minimum isn’t quite enough. The recommended will probably struggle to get 30fps at the best of times. And if you have one of the few seemingly random configurations of hardware that it doesn’t like (even if you have a powerhouse) you’ll  struggle.

Remember, however, it’s free, and it’s not going to hurt to try it out.

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