Calling car 54...

Source // Wikipedia

"Oh hey, look, it's Grand Theft Auto except you play as the cops" might have been the first words to arise upon seeing APB, or All Points Bulletin for those who are acronym averse. It's not a terrible descriptor of the game, but nor is it terribly accurate.

You control rookie cop Officer Bob in a top down view of streets full of criminal scum. Meet your quota for the day and you'll succeed. Fail to pull over enough of them and you'll have your superiors to answer to, and will eventually be fired.

Is it a realistic representation of police life? I wouldn't know, I've never been a copper. Is it a must play arcade game? Let's find out.

Fun Times

The police force doesn't enlist any old maniac to patrol the streets so you'll have to prove yourself by arresting a few traffic cones in the practice course before you're let loose. After that, you'll still need to pace yourself by pulling over perps for minor offences such as littering. The good stuff - the police chases that you all came for - will come in time.

As you drive, you control a cursor that you can point towards offending vehicles and send out a quick wail of your sirens. If they pull over to the side of the road they count towards your daily quota. However, your siren has a range on it and that range is related to your speed. The faster you go the bigger the range, making you look even cooler as you pull over car after car at high speed - assuming you're accurate with that cursor at high speed.

After a few days on the job you're able to answer the titular APB calls; criminals who won't pull over in a hurry. Chase them down and wail away at their morale (or ram into them, or shoot them once you've got a gun) and you'll arrest them, bringing them back to the station for some... persuasion... with regards to confessing their crime.

True to life (or a complete fabrication, I've never been a cop remember) you need to rough up a suspect a little before your superiors come in to talk to them, and by 'a little' I mean you need to shake the life out of them until they confess. Fail to do your job on the streets or at headquarters and you'll get a demerit. Too many demerits and you're fired - Game Over.


It sounds hectic, right? It looks it too. You need to keep an eye on your quota to be successful during the day, but if you need to eke out the day a little more you need to keep an eye out for donuts, which obviously give you more time to catch more criminals. Meet your quota but run out of fuel though, and you've got to contend with a demerit.

Drive into things without your siren on, demerit. Shoot too many innocents when you've unlocked your gun, demerit. Fail to rough up the riff-raff, demerit. Police life is hard, and all of this and more takes place at high speed.

It makes APB a bit overwhelming at times, with so much to think about at once. Obviously if you're going for the high score you'll need to remember how to get the most amount of points in the most efficient a way as possible, and also have the skill to pull it off on the fly.

It's about this point in time where I mention that all of this is - like a bad theory on who dunnit - is conjecture: I've not been able to play APB.

Final Word

I would like to play it, but from reading it and watching it, I feel like I may be swamped by gameplay mechanics. Even the developers have said as much - after they coded in some shops where you can upgrade your abilities...

It looks fast and full of action to keep you busy, even if that action is just bleeping a siren here and there. There's more to it than that - much more - and there's nothing quite like it, not that I can think of at least. Until I know how it plays for sure though, you can't shake a definitive answer out of me one way or the other.

No, wait, forget I said that, I'll confess, APB is a must play.

Fun Facts

The game is remembered for its humour, with major criminals going by the likes of 'Candy Goodbody', 'Iggy Dingdong' and 'Joe Corncob'.

APB, developed by Atari Games, first released in 1987.
Version watched: Arcade, 1987 (classicgamevideos)