All Points Bulletin: Reloaded Hands On

It was over a year ago that All Points Bulletin itself was put into jeopardy as Realtime Worlds entered administration. The game, which had been in development for at least 5 years, was set to crash a mere month after it went online. However, there was light at the end of the tunnel: Gamersfirst aquired the licensing to carry on the brand, taking the exra time to fine-tune the online experience which is currently in open beta. Now dubbed All Points Bulletin: Reloaded, I was recently given a chance to see the and test the changes for myself during E3 2011.

Before we delve into the recent changes, we should reflect on what All Points Bulletin was: a world in which a players can log online into their City Server, choosing between a life of crime or a life in law enforcement. Moreso than that, the game is about the constant fight to increase your reputation against not only other people on your side, but always watching out for the alternate side of the law. It’s supposed to be a free-flowing city, originally planned to have turf wars between completely online gangs.

In its current state, the game has made some impressive improvements over the last few months. Before, car physics felt like you were skating on ice, and combat was sporadic in terms of player skill. While the missions were relatively easy to get a hold of, the lack of some larger multiplayer options to get large groups together left a sour taste in the mouth. Coming up in the next few months to counter this will be Clan Warfare, in which 8-20 members of a certain clan can bring the fight to a similar number of another clan in all-out, urban-gladiator combat.

One thing set to make large leaps in terms of development is player matchmaking. Previously, you’d see a huge mix of new and old players within the same city, which made for some fairly one-sided fights (trust me, I was on the losing end of a lot of them). Player Skill Rating was introduced, but was mostly based around recent performances instead of overall skill. This is set to change near the end of the moving, with a permanent-tracking Skill Rate system being put into place — prepare to find similarly-skilled players trolling your turf.

Being a free-to-play game, anyone can “complete” All Points Bulletin: Reloaded as much as anybody else. GamersFirst plans to make money off of microtransactions, of which there are already a considerable number, ranging from $5 to $50 in terms of real money.

All Points Bulletin: Reloaded online combat

While you used to only be able to rent weaponry, you can now buy them on a permanent basis. You can also buy a Premium Ability, which lets you customize your character with 50 layers as opposed to 5 – a dramatic increase for the hardcore fan. You also get experience bonuses to help you level up fast, which eliminates the need to grind as much. You can also expect to see vehicle purchases, though I was assured that the stats of both downloaded vehicles and weapons are not increased above what you can get without purchase – there will be no “buy this overpowered gun, win your matches” kind of deal.

All the same, the purchases can be very expensive compared to other MMO games, and not every player is going to be willing to plop down $50 to get an improved gun for their gamer. In short, you’d better be in for playing All Points Bulletin for the long run if you’re going to be adding to your arsenal via the online store.

I got to play on a populated server, once again experiencing San Piro — though it’d been months since I was last there. As I got into a vehicle, it was pleasing to find out the physics had been drastically overhauled since the last time I wrapped my ride around a pole.

I recieved a call for backup as a criminal, and proceeded to rip down to the target area and join the combat, an easy mouse-based looking and aiming experience. Kicking open a door, I took out two players with some easy headshots and ended up in a five-minute stand-off as the mission timer to defend the location clocked down. It was a smoother experience than I last remember, which is certainly good – the game definitely went from disappointing to pleasing with the few extra months of development.

The controls of the game will be similar to anyone who regularly plays combat PC games, so people can pick up and play in mere moments — though getting those first vital shots on target is another story. The fast pace of the driving, aiming, and shooting will take some getting used to, but the main thing to note about the game is that if you like the idea of an online MMORPG, All Points Bulletin: Reloaded is definitely worth a try.

What do you think about All Points Bulletin: Reloaded? Have you played it?

All Points Bulletin: Reloaded is currently in open beta, and you can download it here. The full game will be released in August 2011 for PC.

Stay tuned to Game Rant for more news and updates as E3 2011 continues through the week.