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Realtime Worlds Studio Visit

May 26, 2010

Realtime Worlds invited me up to their studios in Dundee this week to check out All Points Bulletin. It was actually the first time I had visited Scotland and it was a real treat to visit the studio who had previously developed Crackdown.

Apart from the usual tour of a very large and swanky looking studio, we got some hands on time with the game itself. Pitting a bunch of journalists and community members together in a crim vs enforcer match, we get to check out the action side of the new MMO.

All Points Bulletin is split between several realms but two main ones that are for customising your avatar and for battling online.

The custom realm – which is free to play – is where you’ll spend hours editing, creating and customising your avatars appearance. The initial creator creation screen gives you a lot of freedom and you can honestly make your avatar look just like you or truely unique. You can create items to sell to players online and make in-game money or even game time for your account to play the competitive multiplayer section of the game. While there are limits on hair style and outfit styles, you can play around with customised logos and colours to sell. In fact, ABP will be the first MMORPG which would end up with the best guilds being known for their fashion sense rather than their battle finesse. Guilds can also advertise there wares in the main square on huge billboards that cover the city walls.

The other realms mix up competitive multiplayer and quests. These require payment for game time to play. You can take part in multiplayer matches which mix up the enforcer class vs the criminal class.  That means stopping the crims from committing crimes and capturing them or even team capture the flag matches.

While the multiplayer aspect is fun, it does run its course very quickly. The first twenty minutes are great with friends but it quickly became the same repeat of rushing on in and hoping your shots count. The weapons felt a little weak, especially the sniper rifle which didn’t feel very accurate or do much damage. It was especially difficult playing against community members who had already levelled up their characters while we were stuck with starter characters. The only real way to level up efficiently was to participate in these matches, which could be frustrating for new players coming in at a later date.

During these multiplayer matches you relay on jumping into a variety of cars littered all over the map. The maps are huge and after dying you are popped back into random areas of the map, usually no where near your team. The driving controls are a little stiff, sliding all over the place on the road. When opposing teams meet each other on the road, they can shoot out of the windows by leaning out or jump out of the car and have a good old fashioned stand off. You can even run over players but people have already learned to jump over the cars before impact.

I also got a short stint with the opening ten minutes of the game, from character creation and initial tutorial quests. Being forced into a tutorial realm was a little frustrating and as a criminal I was stuck spray painting walls and passing on packages to other criminal organisations. You can align with certain factions but the quests seem to be the same. I am sure with the actual release of the game there will be some more interesting quests to dig your teeth into but my first impressions were not satisfied.

APB looks to be one of the more interesting MMORPGs due out this year. While the customisation is enjoyable, there would need to be a lot more variation to quests and multiplayer modes. It could end up being one game to keep your eyes on this year as it has the potential. For now I’d keep your eyes on this one as it could go either way.

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