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E3 09: All Points Bulletin impressions

2:20 PM on 06.03.2009

My long walk (or huff) across the E3 convention center concourse to see a behind closed doors demo of Realtime Worlds MMO All Points Bulletin was worth the effort. I’ve always had my trepidations about the title -- some still exist -- but I left largely impressed by the game the studio behind Crackdown is building.

The demo revolved around something Realtime Worlds referred to as their “three C’s”: customization, conflict, and celebrity. I wasn’t sold on the latter two, but I my mind melted when I saw the deep customization options available for players. Realtime Worlds stressed to those in attendance that they created the robust customization system so everyone playing the game would feel as if they were controlling a unique character. And, frankly, they weren’t kidding around -- every layer of clothing, skin, and a tattoo is a base; there’s no painting. That means the same pair of jeans or tattoo will contour each avatar’s body individually. (During the demo, I watched them apply the same look to a fat and skinny character. The differences are subtle, but lifelike.)

I only caught a glimpse of the MMO's gunplay. From what I saw, it appears as if the action will be very similar to Grand Theft Auto IV, which made me question just how deep or involved it could possibly be. (Chances are there won’t be magic buffs.) Apparently, the game uses a dynamic matchmaking system, so if a bad guy (there’s two factions you can play in the game) decides to steal a car and gets reported by another player, the good faction can roll in to fight them off.

Matches are confined to small skirmishes. Fifty versus fifty is a possibility, but the demo emphasized two versus four and four versus one. (Fights are dependent on how good you are at a given “role” (essentially a level).

As for the celebrity, I haven’t the slightest idea from the minutes I saw of the game. We were told it was possible to get your face on billboards and statues if you perform and, uh, kill things enough, which seems pretty hip if you plan to be a dedicated player.

Sadly, that’s all I saw today. Hopefully we’ll see more soon.
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