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It's been a week since All Points Bulletin went live to the world in all its chaotic glory, and in that time I've ascertained new opinions on the lobby system masquerading as an MMO. I wish I could say these opinions were of a positive nature, but they aren't. To express the level of disappointment I feel now compared to last week would require some form of Vulcan mind-meld mixed with a cocktail of Xanax and Valium to prevent you from killing yourself.
Dave Jones has been quoted time and time again with statements on the 'lack of level significance' in his precious little GTA clone. To a certain degree, he's right. Most MMO games and RPG's have stats that increase with every level, unlocked abilities, and more powerful items that innately make you superior to someone of significantly lower level. APB may not have stats, but it does have unlockable abilities and items that make you much more powerful than someone who lacks them. This might not be a problem to some people, the kind of people that have the time to sit at their computer and grind away to get these little bits of overpowered skilllessness.
If you don't grind your way up the chain, or buy RTW points from the store at exorbitant prices, you quickly get left behind. The majority of the time, if I'm playing solo with a basic weapon, no upgrades, no improved equipment, it seems to match me against people completely decked out in high end unlocks against whom I have no real chance of survival. Even when in a group with friends, we get matched against higher level teams, some of which outnumber us. Now if it weren't for our ability to work as a team, we'd lose 90% of the time. Luckily, we're good, and able to win 50% of the time... Well, maybe a little less.
Nothing in the world will grind your gears quite like being shot at by an overpowered sniper rifle over and over again, re-spawning in the same place, and then dying again. Or being hit by a shotgun from 40 yards away and dying immediately. Or unloading an entire clip of your assault rifle into someone and having them shoot you once or twice with a stun gun, which of course stuns you, and then being arrested followed by their Halo-ish attempts of t-bagging and other humiliation while waiting to re-spawn. You get where I'm coming from? If not, you're probably one of the people that loves this stuff.
Thanks to health bonuses and armor upgrades, it's impossible to kill someone in a toe-to-toe fight if they have them. If you do kill them, you can't really take satisfaction in it, because they're so terribly awful. It just sucks the life out of the experience.
You're left with one option. Well, two if you're willing to spend real money for RTW points and buy upgrades and weapons off the market. All you can do is die and lose over and over again, gain small amounts of reputation, and battle a war of time, not skill, just to level the playing field. You'll probably spend a good 24 hours of gameplay getting there, and by that time the others will have even better, more powerful items and upgrades.
So there you have it, grind your way into insanity, and you might just become a 'class A' criminal or enforcer. You'll have all the unlocks, all the mighty weapons, and be able to play dress up in the social district until your heart is content. You'll also be continuing to promote stagnant game concepts and the mindless achievement mentality that is killing the rest of the world.