As a game, Grand Theft Auto 4 was nothing exceptional. It was thoroughly enjoyable, but nothing about it was particularly revolutionary. Save, of course, for the city itself. Liberty City in GTA4 felt more alive and real than any locale in any video game I've ever seen. If someone could take a beautifully scripted and programmed city like that and make it into a persistent online world, they'd have something spectacular on their hands.
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That's what makes upcoming game All Points Bulletin so exciting. Developer Realtime Worlds bills it as basically Grand Theft Auto: the MMORPG. Imagine taking 10,000 people, splitting them into 100 person districts, dividing them between cops and robbers, and letting them loose in a realistic city with enough firepower to run a third world insurgency. That's the allure of APB.
Visually, the game looks like someone dumped ten gallons of cyberpunk and a few dollops of anime into Liberty City. From the few screenshots we have right now, there appears to be an enormous variety of weapons to choose from. Everything from big shiny revolvers to rocket launchers and machine guns. We've also seen an incredible variety of tattoos, as well as a tool to allow players to build their own 'tats. There seems to be an almost endless variety of style and customization options for characters.
The character creation video gives you an idea of how customizable APB will be. We've still heard nothing about the 'cops' half of this cops and robbers game, but more info about what choices players will have as to 'class' and 'profession' should come soon.
The only gameplay videos we have are from E3 demos, and they show a game that feels very much like a GTA clone. APB has a distinctly more hard-angled look, and combat appears much more intense and in-depth. Taking cover looks like it will matter a lot, but it's also easily possible to destroy cover and render it useless. Large skirmishes with lots of destructible vehicular cover should be a lot of fun.
One of the videos shows what appears to be a 'run' on an armored car. We see a team of players hijack the vehicle, and then a team of cops load up to respond. A car-chase gunfight ensues, with criminals spraying fire out of the sides of their car at the fuzz, who respond in kind. It looks absolutely thrilling, and if APB can deliver this sort of gameplay to tens of thousands of people they are going to make obscene stacks of cash.
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If you like the cut of APB's jig, go here to register for their beta test. The game is set for a Q1 2010 release, although that date could very well change over the next few months.