APB vs GiantBomb

I was listening to GiantBomb’s podcast, the BombCast, yesterday, and Jeff Gerstmann was talking about APB. He did a real hatchet job on the game, talking at length about things he didn’t like about the game. In some cases, things that don’t actually exist in APB.

Now in all fairness he said “I’m reserving judgement” but by the time he was done he’d convinced at least one of his cohorts (Ryan Davis) to not give the game a try. And I’m sure that same applies to some percentage of his listenership.

And even this wouldn’t be a problem if he wasn’t basing his experience totally on playing “for about an hour” during the pre-launch event.

Now APB most definitely has some flaws and I myself am still undecided about it. But I’m not a professional game journalist talking to thousands of listeners to my podcast and conveying mis-information about the game.

I’m going from memory, but here were some of his issues:

Point 1: the first ten minutes of him playing the game was chugging as it struggled to load textures.

OK, maybe that happened to him on his system. I haven’t seen that problem but APB is a beast that brings high-end systems to their knees. Should a journalist slag a game because it won’t run on their system? Virtually every PC game won’t run on someone’s system, somewhere. If this is a systemic problem then it’s fair game. If it only happens on his PC, then it isn’t.

Point 2: He went on and on about the payment model. He made it sound more confusing than doing your taxes when you’ve worked 2 jobs, owned a business, made half a million gambling and gotten married all in the same year. In fact this was his main focus: that the payment model is too hard.

Here is the payment model: The game comes with 50 hours of playing time. When you use that up, you can either go to a $10/month unlimited subscription, or you can spent $7 and get 20 more hours. For 99% of the players, that’s the whole payment model.

There are other things you can do if you really get into the game, but most players won’t ever touch them (I haven’t). Gerstmann focused on them. Here they are:

A) When you use the in-game voice chat you’ll get an ad once every 3 hours when you change zones. If that really bothers you (I almost never change zones in a single play session) you can pay some small fee to remove the ads.

B) There’s something called RTW Points that you can optionally purchase for real money and spend on a cash-shop to buy items. Same as almost every other MMO. This seemed incredibly confusing to Gerstmann; I guess he doesn’t play many MMOs.

He went on and on about the payment model to the point where he had Ryan Davis saying APB sounded like an accounting program and talking about roll-over minutes. WTF??

Point 3: The single player missions were dull and the PvP too infrequent.

This is where my jaw really dropped. There ARE NO SINGLE PLAY MISSIONS IN APB! Every mission has 2 sides. When you get invited to a mission you’re either initializing the mission, or you’re responding to a mission.

If you initialize the mission, the game will start asking people from the other side to respond to that mission. Until someone accepts the invite to respond, you will be playing unopposed. And its true that sometimes no one responds and you never encounter opposition. During pre-launch that happened a lot more than it does now.

If you respond to a mission in progress, you’ll immediately be in conflict with another team.

The point is, there are no dedicated solo missions and now that the game has launched you’re doing PvP pretty constantly. When you do end up running a mission unopposed it feels more like a breather than a problem.

OK I’ve rambled on enough about this. Like I said, APB has legitimate issues and if Gerstmann had gone after those (semi-broken matchmaking, lack of a manual, high system requirements) I wouldn’t have a problem with his comments.

But if you’re talking to a huge audience who, by the looks of the comments on Giant Bomb, idolizes you for some reason, I think you should be a bit more careful when it comes to talking trash about a game that you’ve barely played. RTW has enough of a challenge in front of them without high-profile gaming journalists tearing them apart over imagined issues.

4 thoughts on “APB vs GiantBomb

  1. I dunno…You sound like someone who’s really got an iron in the fire here… 😀

    I was ALSO under the impression that some missions were just “busy work”. I did a pickup mission last night where I had to get an armored car, pick up some cash, and return the truck. I didn’t have any opposition, so I assumed that this was the way it was. I didn’t know that ALL missions that EVERYONE undertakes fire off a call for opposition.

    Based on your writeup, it does sound like this guy got a lot of stuff wrong, especially about the payment system. However, as even you have stated, there’s an obvious lack of documentation and explaination about these systems. Sure, a quick check to the website could have explained this for him…but that’s too much like WORK! He’s a podcast host, not a researcher with web skills, or someone who can type at least two words a minute to enter the URL and browse the site, dammit!

  2. Way back when I was a gaming journalist myself, SSI (remember them?) was coming out with a space-combat game I was *really* looking forward to. Then PC Gamer printed a *review* of an early build, slagging the game (easy to do since it wasn’t even finished). SSI actually canceled the game because the review was so bad…they figured no matter how good the final product was, people would think their game was trash.

    That experience scarred me for life, so I’m really sensitive to this kind of thing. Granted this wasn’t a review, but still, it seemed irresponsible to me.

    And I don’t know for an absolute fact that every mission fires off a call for response, but that’s my understanding of what’s going on. If there are no appropriately matched opposing players not on a mission then the game probably won’t even try to get you opposition. But the way Gerstmann talked about it, it sounded like APB was partially a PvE game, and it clearly isn’t.

    Here’s an analogy… what if a movie critic talked badly about The Sixth Sense after watching only the first 3/4ers of the movie? Even if you hated the Sixth Sense, the things the movie critic would be pinging it on probably wouldn’t be the reason you hated it. Y’know?

  3. I haven’t played APB, although I almost feel like I have because I seen so much about it on Twitter, and I don’t plan to simply because I’m not into the whole GTA/thug setting.

    That said, I wanted mention that I think that gaming has gotten big enough that people need to be more careful talking about genres areas they’re not familiar with. There’s a big difference between the shooter and MMO gaming sub-cultures. Not to mention it’s helpful to know the history of a genre when you’re commenting on it in print or audio.

    I had a similar moment to what you experience, Pete, when listening to a Current Geek podcast a few weeks back. The hosts were talking about the LotRO free-to-play announcement, which was fine, but their MMO background was (or seemed to be) entirely based on WoW. I don’t recall specifics at this point, but I remember correcting them multiple times while listening. Fortunately I was commuting in my truck, since I was frustrated enough that I might have left them a comment.

  4. LOL, does not understand the payment model. What is not to understand. I think it is great. I pay $7.00 for 20 hours, when I use up that 20 hours, I purchase more. I like this pay as you go model better then paying a fee monthly. Sometimes I wonder how much some of these folks actually play games, or is it just that they are hoping to get their podcast noticed.

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