All Points Bulletin Review

Ever wanted to play GTA online? No, we’re not talking about those unofficial mods that let you gather up with a few of your friends and chase each other on motorcycles. You’ve probably wished for it at some point – a full-blown online GTA, with hundreds of other players in the town, and perhaps a MMO system to make the world persistent? Say no more! All Points Bulletin, the next big thing from Realtime Worlds, has been developed with that kind of gameplay in mind exactly!

Gameplay

We already said that APB is pretty much a MMORPG version of GTA, and it really is just that – though with lots of improvements over GTA’s gameplay in order to cope with the massively multiplayer world. You can choose to join various sides which are constantly in wars, customize your character in a completely unique way, even forming gangs of similarly-styled soldiers (one of the trailers for example shows a gang of punks versus a trio of guys that looked like they just came back from shooting up some cops in “Reservoir Dogs”). Of course, there’s a great emphasis on vehicle action, and just like in GTA you can hijack random vehicles from the streets, engage in drive-bys and adrenaline-pumping chase scenes.

The combat system is very flexible, and you’ll have to think out of the box to be successful in APB – forget about ducking behind a crate and popping up only to empty your magazine – in APB, this is only effective until someone decides to ram their truck in said box – which, we assure you, will happen before you’ve even considered it as an option. The streets are chaotic, and with over 100 players in a single town you can have some massive shootouts, even playing on the side of the police if you wanted. The total world consists of over 100,000 players split into towns, so you can imagine the overall feeling the game produces.

Graphics and System Requirements

Yet another title on the Unreal Engine 3, Realtime Worlds have made numerous modifications to the engine to help it handle the large worlds better. It performs very well in drawing the huge cities and the various detailed vehicles and players with all their customization options. The city skyline looks beautiful as you’re cruising around with your gang in another stolen vehicle, and of course the combat parts of the game see the most attention to detail, with large explosions and lots of special effects.

Other

The game sadly requires a monthly fee to play – your initial purchase of the game itself only gives you about 50 free hours, after which you’ll have to pay up and subscribe. But seriously, there’s no room for even wondering here – no other game can offer you a similar experience right now, so the price is more than justified.

Conclusion

APB should definitely see lots of success. It’s already proving to be highly popular among players, and some of the innovations it brought to the genre will surely become a staple of it.

Batman: Arkham Asylum Review

Games based on the Batman series have been hit-and-miss, as is the case with most movie/comic book-based video games. The newest one, Arkham Asylum though, immediately made an impression even before it was released – the amount of polish that was thrown in the game’s pre-release media made it obvious that this one has been designed a bit more carefully and sensibly. Batman fans and video game fans alike were, naturally, very excited about the upcoming release of the title.

Gameplay

Batman: Arkham Asylum puts the player in the feet of our favorite comic book character, who’s on the trail of his arch nemesis the Joker yet again. The game is played from a third person perspective, and is a combination of action and stealth – there are scenes where you’ll be mopping the floor with your enemies, reliving your favorite scene from a Batman movie in your head, but at some other points of the game, you’ll be forced to lay low and sneak behind your enemies’ backs if you are to survive.

It wouldn’t have a true Batman feeling if it wasn’t packed full of gadgets though – Batman: Arkham Asylum gives you access to a small arsenal of unique high-tech toys made by Batman himself, including the all-famous Batarang. The Riddler makes a cameo in several places as well, leaving the player clues to guide them through the levels. You’ll have to solve some puzzles from time to time, though nothing too challenging – and the main focus is on the action and stealth elements. Also, you have access to a “Detective Mode”, which is sometimes required in order to progress through a specific area.

Graphics and System Requirements

The developers have utilized the latest Unreal Engine 3.5, spicing it up with some PhysX support (those of you who’ve got a PhysX component in their computer should enjoy a lot more eye candy and better framerates). The game looks terrific, mimicking the noir feeling of the movies and comic books almost perfectly. The asylum has been designed with lots of imagination – even though it’s a cliched, beaten-to-death setting for creepy games, it still feels fresh in this one.

Arm yourself with at least a 2.8 GHZ dual core processor and 3 GB of RAM, plus an ATi HD 4770 or better if you want to fully enjoy this game though – it is quite heavy on the computer and will make it cringe in the heavier scenes if you’re not prepared accordingly.

Other

If you’re playing on a console and not on the PC, you sadly won’t get to enjoy the PhysX effects, as they’re PC-exclusive. You won’t be missing out on that much though, mostly small details like leaves floating around, pieces of clothing getting torn apart realistically, etc – certainly nothing that’s absolutely necessary to experience the game in its fullest.

Conclusion

Batman fans who haven’t played this yet better take a few days off and hit the couch with the joystick – because once you’ve started up Batman: Arkham Asylum for the first time, it can be pretty damn hard to let go.

Battlefield: Heroes Review

If you’re a fan of shooters, you’ve most likely played at least one Battlefield title in your lifetime – the games are known for providing intense warfare-style action, with each being set in a unique time period. The first BF took place in World War 2, followed by Battlefield: Vietnam and then Battlefield 2 which took the game to our current times making references to the war in Iraq.

Many fans were wondering where the series was headed for next, and certainly very few people expected this – Battlefield: Heroes is completely different from the previous ones in every way you can imagine.

Gameplay

The first thing you’re going to notice is the art style – the game is no longer realistically-themed like its predecessors, instead featuring a bright cartoony look – more on that in detail below. Another drastic change is that it’s completely free to play – it came out in roughly the same period as id Software’s Quake Live, another free-to-play title, and provided some healthy competition for it.

In BFH, you can create an account and start shooting up the place without having to pay a cent – however, if you want to get access to some of the cool-looking character customization parts, you’ll have to buy some “BattleFunds”, which cost real money.

Don’t worry though – cosmetic attributes are pretty much all money can get you, and they don’t give you any in-game advantage. The other thing you can spend your cash on are stronger variants of some of the weapons, but those can be bought with “Valor Points” as well, which you earn for free by just playing – the only difference is that buying them with BF frees you from having to play a certain number of hours a week in order to earn enough VP to keep them.

Graphics and System Requirements

Battlefield: Heroes is extremely stylized, featuring a vibrant and colorful art style. Some criticized it for looking too similar to Valve’s Team Fortress 2, but just a few looks at media from both games is enough for anyone to see the obvious difference – besides looking cartoony, the two have nothing in common and their styles are very unique. Battlefield: Heroes is a lot more cheerful and less serious than TF2, offering such items for customization like pirate and ninja clothes, stylish suits, jetpacks (cosmetic only) and even shoulder parrots.

Even though the game makes a heavy reference to World War 2 (for example, the two main sides are the Royals, who resemble the Allies very much, and the Nationals, who’re an obvious reference to the Nazis), its action takes place in a fictional setting, allowing the designers to include lots of items that don’t tie in with the WW2 period at all. The engine is extremely lightweight and the game runs at high framerates even on a notebook – which, combined with the fact that it’s free, makes it extremely available and in turn very popular.

Other

If you find BFH enjoyable and decide to stick around (which isn’t that hard, believe us), make sure you keep an eye out for special promotional codes which are distributed in various outlets (for example, gaming magazines) – they give you access to exclusive, limited items that can’t be obtained by any other means – make your friends jealous!

Conclusion

You literally have nothing to lose by giving Battlefield: Heroes a try, but be careful – just a few hours of comically crashing airplanes into enemy tanks can be enough to make you pull out your wallet and play dress-up with your soldier!