The original APB was an ambitious urban-themed massively multiplayer online (MMO) game from publisher EA that crashed and burned so quickly and in such a big way that became more famous for its failure than its many redeeming features.
EA helped launch an entirely new development company - Realtime Worlds - devoted exclusively to APB. But just a few months after the game launched, due to dismal sales and the lack of a cohesive marketing campaign, it went belly up.
But among those who did actually play APB, most seemed to like it. It garnered largely positive reviews, so a company called GamersFirst decided to buy the rights to APB and change it from a game that required users to pay a monthly fee, to a game that's free to play but charges players for new items as they go along.
The new version, APB Reloaded, has all of the game's original gameplay mechanics plus some added features like allowing players to choose between criminals and enforcers to create a compelling competitive dynamic.
Additionally, the online ranking system uses a special algorithm that takes into account all sorts of factors from an individual's play history, as opposed to the simple win-loss record that the original APB relied on.
"From the start of the development of APB Reloaded last fall our focus has been to remove obstacles preventing players from having fun. While our development and design teams have done an amazing job improving driving, shooting, skill ratings, witnessing and other key elements of the game, I am also thrilled with the changes slated to be released during the latter part of open beta. We expect APB Reloaded to set a new bar for what is possible to achieve in a free to play MMO game, and the open beta represents another big step in that direction," said GamersFirst COO Bjorn Book-Larsson in a statement.
The new game has been in closed beta for several months as GamersFirst tested out the merging of APB's online architecture to its own servers. Today, though, the shackles have been removed and the game is available for anyone as a free download, though the company warns it is still in "beta" form, meaning occasional disruptions or game errors may occur.
Players can download the beta file here.