I know I have been very critical about this project since I started writing here. My first post was about my experience in APB’s open beta, what I thought could be improved, what had potential, and about how the game was shaping up in general. I thought the game had potential to be something great, and knowing what I did about RTW back then, I thought for sure they would delay the game last minute much like Alpha Protocol was.
I was wrong. They went full speed ahead into release, and some of the minor technical glitches and bugs got turned to 11 when full release load was applied to the servers. The driving, which I felt was a bit off, ended up being slammed over and over in professional reviews and player criticisms alike. The shooting was akin to giving a three year old kid a shotgun and asking him to hit something. He may eventually get a hit, but it’s mostly just luck.
This was all tame compared to what greeted me when I visited the APB forums post-release. I saw a once (relatively) friendly community crumble. Every other post was knocking RTW for this bug or this incomplete feature, all wrapped in enough expletives to last a lifetime. Normally I would dismiss these people as trolls, but in this case I actually feel what they are going through. I was lucky enough to see what APB was pre-release. I held off putting down $50 because I felt the game wasn’t finished. Not everyone was so lucky. Most were attracted by the gargantuan hype surrounding the project, payed the entry fee, and then what? You can’t get a refund because you opened the box, so you’re basically screwed out of $50.
The thing is, it wasn’t just jilted forum posters. Despite RTW’s continued promises to keep the game updated (this post was supposed to be about the new update that was set to roll out today) nothing could change the slew of mixed or poor reviews. While some reviewers touted the games customization, most called the game a work in progress at best, broken at worst. Armchair empire sums it up nicely.
“APB had a simple concept, one that anybody who used to be young and a dead shot with a squirt gun could have gotten behind, and Realtime Worlds managed to screw it up completely.”
And so I just have a few questions for the (former) staff of RTW. I would post this on the forums but they’re down now…
How the hell was this not noticed? I mean seriously. You can’t tell me that in your months of closed beta one person didn’t pipe up and say “wait a minute, this game releases when again?” Did any employee go “guys hold on, having a music editor is great and all but shouldn’t a shooting game be about shooting?” Was his one of the first jobs to be made “redundant” prior to your company imploding? And seriously, how could you make a game with such a poor shooting mechanic? Koreans are making free FPS games in their basements with better shooting this this game, and they don’t have $100M to throw around.
What happens now to the people who recently renewed their subscription? What happens to people who may not know about this, and buy the game?
To be fair to RTW they may not have know about this beforehand. Them announcing a patch a day before shutting down tells me one of two things happened. Either RTW had a buyer for APB and they pulled out, or they hit a court-set deadline. I had hoped when the new social interactive game was bought that APB wouldn’t be far behind, but in the end it probably proved far too toxic for anyone to take.
And so here I am. It’s been five long years. Years of hopes squished by delays, elation when things were (on the surface) coming together, anticipation when I got into the open beta, and ultimately disappointment. I had high hopes, I’ve said that many times before, as did many. Right when I think I couldn’t get any more angry at the mishandling of APB, I go to the official site. “The end of an era” heads the official shutdown announcement. RTW, if any of you are reading this, I want to say this…
If you mean by “The end of the era” you intend to imply game’s life should be described as an “era” then the words I wish to use are inappropriate for this blog. If however, you mean the end of a five year money-sink filled with shattered expectations, broken promises, and an even more broken game then you have described it right. And you know what RTW, if this is the end of an era then the gaming world will be better off tomorrow.