E3 2009: APB In-Depth Preview - Thug Life MMO
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APB has been described by Realtime Worlds boss, Colin MacDonald, as the “the bastard child of everything we’ve been striving towards over the 15-20 years that Realtime Worlds, DMA and David Jones have been making games” and finally at this year’s E3, we got chance to check out the street style MMO in action. The title bases its foundations on what Realtime Worlds like to call the “three C’s; creativity, conflict and celebrity,” and these three C’s form the foundation of the game.
The city you are thrown into has two classes of people; the enforcers and the criminals, and all you have to do is pick your side. The criminals will prey on the city and its civilians, and the enforcers will prey on the criminals. The criminals aren’t invincible (or the enforcers for that matter) and can get arrested by the enforcers (which is harder to do because you have to incapacitate them with non lethal weapons and the action can be disrupted by fellow criminals, but it’s obviously more rewarding) which can take you out the game for up to 30 seconds, and you can get killed with respawn times of around 6-8 seconds. 
The character creation system (the creativity aspect) is pretty damn detailed and is possibly one of the most diverse and immersive systems that I’ve possibly seen in a video game to date, allowing players to create their player exactly as they would envision them. From the realistic facial creation, right the way down to the custom made tattoos; APB is a canvas for your creative talents. The PC system currently uses a drag and drop system to manipulate the body parts, and when I say body parts, that extends to include protruding veins in your character’s biceps, as well the more common aspects like hair length and style. So if you want to run around with a skinny Britney Spears who’s blessed in the upper extremities, that’s pretty much possible. Realtime Worlds’ demonstrated the extent of this by showing off their carbon copy of Barrack Obama that they had created using the system, and I must say, the similarity was uncanny! The customisation doesn’t stop there though ... in fact, it actually starts there. You can even add scars (and age them), add fashionable eye liner, add freckles, moles, and again, we’re only scratching the surface here.

APB includes a simple designer, like a Photoshop type package, using simple shapes and over lapping them while adding after effects, so that players can design their own logos, symbols and graffiti emblems that they can use for tattoos, or even to place on clothes and cars. As far as clothes go, players can tuck them in, change the stitching, change the material types, layer them, emboss your created logos on them, and so much more. You can effectively create your own fashion brand and label and sell the clothes through the game’s inbuilt eBay style marketplace (offering auctions, a buy it now option and get licenses on the use of your artistic pieces of work). It’s all about expression and creating your own identity and your gang/group of friend’s identity. Player’s can then share that identity with as little or as many people as they see fit.

As far as the car aspect of the title goes, you can customise the body parts, colours, interior, tune them up and then even trade/share with friends. You can even go so far to “recreate the Italian Job” scene according to Dave Jones if you so wish. Of course all the cars are fully damageable but if needs be, there are repair shops situated around the city to fix them up if you get involved in a kerfuffle. Realtime Worlds pointed out that APB was the first real MMO to have such a strong driving aspect built into it.

When asked how this drag and drop system would translate on the Xbox 360, Realtime Worlds commented that they were concentrating on the PC at the moment, but were confident that they could translate the system to be compatible and effective with a controller. The system is pretty smart, in-depth and intuitive, and the possibilities are endless, but I suppose they need to be if Realtime Worlds are aiming for a city full of unique characters. Where Far Cry 2’s map maker astounded us at Leipzig last year, APB took home the prize for astounding us with their character customisation system at this year’s E3.

Enough of the customisation and the setup, you want to know about how this works, and what you’ll be doing around the cities, i.e. the second “C”, conflict. As mentioned in EA’s press conference at the show, there will be 100 players in each of the fairly large and dynamic cities which are purely server based to improve the player’s experience. The action in APB isn’t really story driven either, and Dave Jones pointed out it’s “all about the players doing what they want to do.”  The city as a whole will be broke into two areas; the social area; where players can congregate, purchase clothes, weapons and equipment, use the customisation editor and generally relax. Then there is the action area, and this is where the mayhem starts.

In the action areas criminal players for example can get involved in general open world activities, like stealing cars, mugging people, but also get involved in more scripted activities that can involve story characters and can be more varied in type. In all, there are about 20-30 activities that the criminals can partake in, whether it’s bank jobs, grand theft auto, breaking and entering, arson, mugging civilians and so on. Whether you choose the enforcers or the criminals, players can still get specific mission assignments and whilst the criminals might be casing banks, the enforcers could be escorting VIPs or valuable items (with criminals being tipped off as to what they may be escorting and where to, to make the proceedings a little more interesting) and patrolling areas to prevent crime.

What you do is up to you though. If you want to steal a car to get some money for it by selling it at the chop shop, go right ahead, but be prepared to shake the heat if you get seen stealing it and if the crime gets reported. If you’ve not been seen, you could get away with it, but it’s this “have I been seen?” aspect that will add to the tension of the play. If the first grand theft auto was part of a wide scale operation or something bigger, expect the enforcers to gain momentum and assistance as you proceed on with your objectives. The matchmaking present in APB is entirely dynamic, so if you’re a veteran and established criminal, you can expect similarly matched opposition in the terms of an enforcer, or even better, a crew of less established and fairly inexperienced rookies. All you need to do is load the game up, pick a side, and then the world is your oyster. No hanging around in lobbies thankfully.

As far as the soundtrack goes ... there isn’t one. Thanks to a deal with, players can sync up their music collections to play their own MP3s. The clever aspect of this is that if you have a passing car that is playing a song that you have in your collection, you will actually hear it as they pass. The same will essentially works with the voices as well which are all based on proximity, so you could hear someone clear as day stood next to you, but if they are a street away, you’ll hear the muffled, distant voices.

The sound aspect doesn’t stop there however, and APB even includes a music editor so that players can invent their own “kill tunes” that will activate when you kill someone – not only will you hear it, but they will also – a sort of gloat factor if ever there was one. Realtime Worlds demonstrated the depth of this simple editor by showing their previously created content including, Another One Bites the Dust by Queen and the theme tune from Dexter. The best thing is you can make it whatever you want, although Realtime Worlds have limited it to 5 seconds at present to prevent it becoming too annoying and outstaying its welcome.

The third and final aspect of APB is the celebrity aspect and this in effect is a combination of the two previous “C’s.” This can relate to your identity with your unique looks and brands, or can be tied to the games hundreds of leaderboards. You don’t have to be a kill merchant to get on them either with players able to gain recognition for who designs the best clothes, biggest gangs, who owns most of the city, who has the best designer brands and so on. The stat system in the game tracks every little type of action and categorises them as well and while there are no classes per se, repeated actions will be rewarded accordingly.

Money earned from successful tasks can be spent on weapons, clothing, advertising your fame or even your gang on billboards, heck, you can even get a bronze statue of yourself made in the city if you’re feeling especially vain. Of course, some of the rewards are limited to good performance rather than just straight up cash, and these can range from unique weapons to unique cars. You know what they say, fame can’t necessary always be bought ... sometimes you have to earn it ... unless you’re Paris Hilton.

At present time Realtime Worlds stated that their “primary focus is PC”, but they assured us that they were confident and committed to delivering a similar experience on the Xbox 360. The recent partnership with and the Xbox 360 surely makes the music aspect possible and if Realtime Worlds can show the same commitment with the Xbox 360 that they have seemingly done with the PC, APB could be a fantastic MMO that maybe the Xbox 360 needs. The non-story driven narrative and action may put off a few players that crave for that sort of experience, but being able to take part in a mini war between the enforcers and the criminals in a massive open world and online environment sounds mouth watering. I know it might sound trite and predictable, but MMO GTA anyone? Oh, and the customisation system in the title ... wow!

APB is heading to PC in spring 2010 and Xbox 360 players can hopefully get in on the action before the close of that year.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 162
Comment #1 by EletricMafia209...
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 05:50:40 PM
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This game has the potential to be great.. Let's hope they don't screw it up..Let us all pray

Forum Posts: 242
Comment #2 by JustAFriend
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 05:52:09 PM
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this game is going to be awesome, cat wait to see how it turs out

Forum Posts: 77
Comment #3 by coldman1
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 05:54:46 PM
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Looks quite good but ive sorta grown out of MMO's im still waiting for Dragonball online

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #4 by The Leprechaun
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 05:54:57 PM
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This is a really long article and I dont want to read it. Can someone give the gist of this game in a few sentences.

Forum Posts: 585
Comment #5 by ReaLiStiiC
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 05:56:00 PM
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This looks interesting. Might rent this first and see if I like it. But its pretty neat, deffinitly going criminals :P

Forum Posts: 1185
Comment #6 by MartyMcFly
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 05:56:06 PM
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Best MMO ever. This will be unbelievable, I cannot wait!!!
It's going to be such badass. I really hope it pulls through for the 360.

Forum Posts: 385
Comment #7 by MrPaypaChasa
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:00:00 PM
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Wow, just wow! This game looks a astounding every aspect of it is just incredible and I can not wait any longer to play it. I NEED IT NOW!


@4 Just read it, I don't think anyone can summarize this entire article up into a few sentences. Without doing justice to the game

Forum Posts: 90
Comment #8 by Oultranator0731
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:00:25 PM
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Seeing the customisation at E3 was amazing, i'll be getting this!!

Forum Posts: 14797
Comment #9 by Webb [STAFF]
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:00:47 PM
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@#4 - How's about read it, or don't. What did you expect from an "in-depth" preview? 100 words?

Forum Posts: 203
Comment #10 by Doc187 XL
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:01:21 PM
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im with #4 this is really long to read

Forum Posts: 444
Comment #11 by Nightbeam
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:02:10 PM
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holy dicks from hell its GTA MMO

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #12 by Chacodood
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:02:45 PM
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So it's still coming out for 360? good.

Forum Posts: 160
Comment #13 by Jmashed
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:02:45 PM
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If your interested in the game you will read the article. Anyways, as a sum up fr anyone who didn't read it and went right to the comments:
-the game is based on 3 C's: customization,conflict, and celebrity.
-Customization: the cus. system allows you to customize everything (characters age, scars, colors of different types of cloths, a layered (like in RB) logo designer,etc.) and an in game auction house to sell your cus. items. Cars will also be customizable as well, appearance and performance (just as detailed). You can also put your own music in the game for when your driving or for when you kill someone (5 sec. victory clip)
-conflict: choose a side, criminals or enforcers. Criminals have about 30 different jobs to perform, their job is to steal, wreck havoc, and avoid the law.

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #14 by DrRaymond Solar
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:04:49 PM
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O My God! They did it. I have been talking about a game like this for years. Never thought someone one would actually make it. Shit.

Forum Posts: 119
Comment #15 by A 0 E monkey
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:06:33 PM
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I rememeber the premise of this idea back in '05 and until recently most people had forgotten about this, I hadn't, this will really be one of the greatest games of our time unless it really goes sour from now, but I doubt it, lets rememeber which games David Jones has been behind with DMA.

And it just goes to show how the attnetion span of people these days is dropping, great preview guys (except for a couple of grammar mistakes ;) and for those too lazy to read it, just do it, you never know you may learn something :p

Forum Posts: 176
Comment #16 by wh1tel1ght
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:08:02 PM
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so, is this, in fact, coming to 360?

Forum Posts: 120
Comment #17 by Madtown B
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:08:36 PM
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LOL @ people to lazy to read previews.

Oh and this game looks badass, too bad they will probably charge a subscription fee on top of xbox live to play it. I might consider it still, because it looks revolutionary to say the least.

Forum Posts: 2388
Comment #18 by Deyankees1
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:08:46 PM
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So will there be a monthtly fee of is it free for gold members?

Forum Posts: 75
Comment #19 by I Rickz I
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:17:12 PM
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This looks amazing!
Im sad about the 2010 release, but if it makes it better...
The customization and rewards aspect looks fantastic, and the 100 player servers are a great idea, hopefully no subscription fees :(

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #20 by Fyzban
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:24:29 PM
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its a mmo, there will be fee probably

Forum Posts: 100
Comment #21 by ii iLLMaTiC
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:25:35 PM
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looks epic.

Forum Posts: 108
Comment #22 by ShinAkuma
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:32:12 PM
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Am i the only one to think this will fail?

Forum Posts: 1074
Comment #23 by Io Haze oI
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:33:50 PM
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I hope the 360 version will be as good as the PC version promises to be. Also who would be up for creating an enforcer unit made up of Dog the Bounty hunter and his family.

Forum Posts: 20
Comment #24 by nicksan
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:35:10 PM
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if it has a monthly fee for gold members, then it will fail

Forum Posts: 244
Comment #25 by Nuffzx
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:36:31 PM
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good read can't wait still want 2 know if it costs and if it's free looks better then huxley tho

Forum Posts: 14797
Comment #26 by Webb [STAFF]
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:41:33 PM
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@#23 - Not necessarily - I'd pay the monthly fee, and I know others would.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #27 by TravisMan1
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:50:16 PM
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pictures make it look like gta4 imo

Forum Posts: 244
Comment #28 by Nuffzx
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:50:26 PM
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I wud pay 4 it defferntly looks mint

Forum Posts: 1217
Comment #29 by ClutchPapi34
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:51:25 PM
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I hope there isn't a monthly fee, but I would probably still pay it.

Forum Posts: 663
Comment #30 by Atarii
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 06:54:32 PM
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Sounds like it will translate better for PC users.... MMO games don't work well on consoles. If they make it work, more power to them.

Forum Posts: 53
Comment #31 by TokeTilYouChoke
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 07:13:57 PM
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#30 true that MMO's blow on consoles but i think that that would be kinda fixed with them only having 100 players per server. also you wont be having a bunch of different spells and shit you have to cast so there would no need for hotkeys. its basically just GTA so its GTA controls which is gonna make this game EPIC!!! I am hella stoked beyond stoked. the only game im more amped for is Modern Warfare 2.

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #32 by Possesed Ben
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 07:23:47 PM
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Definitely gonna check this game out!

Hope there isnt a monthly fee, but don't really see a reason why?

Forum Posts: 141
Comment #33 by GOG909
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 08:06:01 PM
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this will be awesome. i'm gonna shank old people and pregnant women. good times :) (its only a joke)

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #34 by Link0913
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 08:32:08 PM
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Forum Posts: 360
Comment #35 by BLOMBOMB
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 09:06:17 PM
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*clap clap clap* Can't wait to see this beauty on my tv screen.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #36 by a sick shotie
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 09:16:21 PM
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About time a game like this was made. Since GTA I've been craving a game like this. It looks like it will deliver. Hopefully worth the wait and I hope it's free. This game will be sweet

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #37 by a sick shotie
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 09:44:11 PM
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My b. By free i'm talking about monthly

Forum Posts: 147
Comment #38 by RenegadeSniper7
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 10:22:04 PM
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It will be AMAZING if it's free.

Forum Posts: 731
Comment #39 by xxXI Dave IXxx
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 @ 10:50:03 PM
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This could be a landmark console game if done right.

Monthly fee = Epic fail......

Forum Posts: 155
Comment #40 by Akatsuki Sw1tch
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 12:12:01 AM
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Been looking forward to this ever since it was announced a year or so back, Sounded quite ambitious then.

Forum Posts: 561
Comment #41 by MakoBallistic
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 12:54:32 AM
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i laugh in the face of all those that wont pay a monthly fee, the whole point of an MMO is that its so good that u wont want to play anything else u cheap fucks.

pc purchase FTW.

Forum Posts: 43
Comment #42 by christiansteele
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 01:06:54 AM
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Looks like it's going to be awesome! :) Can't wait to be an enforcer and put you CRIMINALS down! :)

Forum Posts: 18
Comment #43 by Nintense TJUK
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 03:42:22 AM
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good read, this game looks amazing, i love the idea of the 5 second soundbite when you kill someone!

Forum Posts: 30
Comment #44 by Astrex
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 04:56:55 AM
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sounds and looks very interest, can't wait to give this play.

Forum Posts: 128
Comment #45 by Nuclearbiscuit
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 05:04:14 AM
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Cant wait for this game, just have to hope its a massive hit on the PC because if it fails i doubt it will see the light of day on 360.

Forum Posts: 133
Comment #46 by hurkyharry
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 07:23:32 AM
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look that grapics!!! btr than wow grapics for sure!!!

Forum Posts: 52
Comment #47 by arete
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 07:24:17 AM
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PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE release it on the 360 as well. Who haven't fantasized about being a badass cop where you can do w/e you want to stop the criminals.

Forum Posts: 87
Comment #48 by dylanmannen
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 07:43:10 AM
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this is going to be the best fucking game in the world :D can't w8

Forum Posts: 301
Comment #49 by collapsedbeef
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 07:50:07 AM
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i really hope this will be the awesome that it has the potential to be.
because if it does, if will provide endless hours of fun

Forum Posts: 140
Comment #50 by MAD MAZTEC
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 08:23:02 AM
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Looks Fucking Amazing cannae w8 tae it comes oot :D

Forum Posts: 22
Comment #51 by alienterrorist
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 10:28:17 AM
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@ almost everyone, this game is not coming to 360 yet. I remember reading an interview on joystiq saying that it is pc exclusive AT LAUNCH. They said they might explore consoles but its not guaranteed that it will come to 360 but it might. On topic, this game looks really cool so if it doesnt come to 360, im gonna get a wired controller or a wireless adapter so I can play in on my PC(not used the the whole mouse and keyboard thing. Console gamer)

Forum Posts: 47
Comment #52 by M4k
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 11:02:28 AM
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Looks good but I'm not getting my hopes up. I'll wait for the reviews before I consider buying it. There is a good chance an idea as big as this will fail or flounder. Let's hope there isn't a monthly fee, we all know WoW has a monthly fee and it's been sucking for years.

Forum Posts: 38
Comment #53 by d3vilsnight
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 12:01:57 PM
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This game has always seemed boring to me since I first heard of it long ago. It looks better now, but still just seems totally un-interesting. Looking forward to Crackdown 2 much much much more.

Forum Posts: 615
Comment #54 by doomey
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 12:41:01 PM
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didnt sega already do an APB game? i remember clearly having to go through donut shops for power ups on a game called APB or something similar.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #55 by Duplex123
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 12:44:04 PM
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This game is one of my defiantly getting games! Looks pretty sweet.

I can loads of people grouping up into clans and having huge clan battles with others. Gonna be intense.

Forum Posts: 480
Comment #56 by CloudStr1f3
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 01:35:35 PM
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I'm not a big MMO fan, but this game sounds like it could be really amazing.

Forum Posts: 213
Comment #57 by o Machamp o
Thursday, June 11, 2009 @ 08:08:00 PM
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I've been waiting for this game for almost 2 years.

If they charge for the online, I might even pay for it.

DEPENDING on the reviews.

Forum Posts: 2290
Comment #58 by X monkfish69 X
Friday, June 12, 2009 @ 09:10:58 AM
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Sounds good on paper... But will have to wait and see how well they can pull it off.

Good luck to them as this has massive potential to be the most played game on Live.

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #59 by miller da nub
Saturday, June 13, 2009 @ 09:17:54 AM
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bekeeping a listen out for this sounds very intresting

Forum Posts: 11
Comment #60 by Vollmernator
Friday, June 19, 2009 @ 06:08:14 PM
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I can't wait for this game

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