APB: Reloaded is one of those games that I happily jump into when I'm feeling bored with other games or just miss real action. When I'm solo, it's a bit of an outlet for any stress or frustrations I might have because I can just be a complete jerk and it's part of the game. But when I'm with a group, the dynamic changes completely. Sure, the game has its problems and is notorious for the lag and cheater issues, but that doesn't really affect why I play the game.
Then why do I play APB: Reloaded?
Let's just get the obvious one out of the way first. The customization in APB:R is not only in-depth but revolutionary. When it was first introduced at E3 2009, it was one of those things that made you wonder whether the company could actually pull this whole thing off.
But the funny thing about APB's customization is that it's sometimes hard to describe to others. You may be a little wary about giving your friends the full scoop right off the bat, so you have to start them off slow with some comments about how there are sliders for every facial feature, ease them into the clothing styles and options, throw out a tattoo design or two, describe stretchable hair, and then finish up by describing the creation of theme songs. When they've recovered from their blown minds, you can then describe how the symbol designer works and the fact that every graphic you see from other players is created with a primitive set of manipulated shapes. No, seriously -- designing a graphic is pretty hardcore in APB, but you can still see plenty of amazing work on characters or up for sale in the auction house.
Aside from character customization, you can also completely customize your vehicle with paint, graphics, accessories, and sounds. With all of this in mind, think of the possibilities with starting your own gang, outfitting each player in your gang colors and graphics, and rolling around San Paro in matching gang vehicles. If that's not enough, you can also claim certain display points around town to show off your gang's logo or entice some new recruits.
Speaking of gangs, I would honestly say that APB has some of the very best multiplayer features in any MMO. Where else can you jump in a car with your friends, hang out the window shooting at enemies, then ram their car off the road into a fiery explosion, killing everyone inside? No, I mean besides in real life.
APB does such an amazing job of stretching that multiplayer experience further than most other games, and while the world is instanced into 80 to 90 players at a time, it's still massive enough to be fun. The lack of huge open maps also helps to keep the action close together, so even for a game that's technically over two years old, it's still quite lively.
As I said in my opening paragraph, I loves me some options. In APB, the options go much deeper than simply "good guy" or "bad guy."
If you're playing as an Enforcer, you can choose to run missions against gangs of Criminals or seek out petty thieves around town. You can also choose to kill or stun your opponent -- an option that the Criminals don't have. When you witness a crime being committed by another player, you can stun and arrest him right on the spot.
"I'm roleplaying a drunken and disgruntled city sanitation worker who just found out that the city is cutting his dental insurance. DON'T YOU JUDGE ME."
Of course, both sides of the law can participate in bounties. When a player reaches Threat Level Five, an announcement is thrown up on everyone's screen and that player's location is displayed on the city map. Any player can hunt that player down and collect the bounty. In turn, that high-threat player can kill any other player in the game -- something that can usually only be done among players in the same mission. It's fun to watch a player reach that threat level while his buddies protect him on top of a tall building. The whole block is surrounded by instant bounty hunters, looking for a way to get up there and be the one to take that player down.
One of my guilty pleasures in APB is griefing. Yes, I know this makes me a bad person, but it's more of a grief of inconvenience to the other player than anything else. See, you can grab these dump trucks or garbage trucks and drive through just about any obstacle that stands in your way. There's no other vehicle in the game that can knock these "troll trucks" off the road, so the lumbering beasts can do some real damage. This allows you to plow straight through another player as he hides behind a car, firing away at his opponent. You can smash cars off the road as they're in hot pursuit, obliterate a van being stocked full of stolen goods, or just cause a 10-car NPC vehicle pile-up in the middle of rush hour. Sure, it may be slightly psychotic, but it's hilarious!
Player with life ruined by me: "Thanks a lot, troll truck moron!"
Me: "I'm roleplaying a drunken and disgruntled city sanitation worker who just found out that the city is cutting his dental insurance. DON'T YOU JUDGE ME."
So overall, I play APB for many reasons, but most of them revolve around the fact that the game is unique. It has a steep learning curve that turns most people off in the beginning, and the constant "aimbot" paranoia lurks around every corner, but it's a really fun game that rewards you for sticking around.
There's an MMO born every day, and every game is someone's favorite. Why I Play is a column in which the Massively staff members kick back and reminisce about all their favorite MMOs. Whether it's the new hotness or an old fan favorite loaded with nostalgia, each title we cover here tugs at our heartstrings and keeps us coming back for more.