Those dreams of GTA: Online could be closer than you think. David Jones, the creator of the money-spinning, bling-blinging Grand Theft Auto series back in the old 2D days of 1996, has revealed a new massively multiplayer online game called APB.
It sounds like a dream come true for fans of free-roaming crime sprees. Thousands of players around the world will be able to hook up in criminal Gangs or Squads of police officers and then battle over turf in accurately-modelled representations of real world cities.
While the Gangs will be all about hustling for cash, marking their turf, 'pimping their rides' and 'keeping it real' (all trendy street slang courtesy of watching MTV Base), the Squads will be committed to taking down the hoods by any means necessary.
Extensive character customisation is promised in the form of customisable weapons, vehicles, music, environments and appearances. Both Gangs and Squads will be able to show their solidarity with LA gang-style colours or distinctive uniforms and emblems.
Bo word on whether APB will take a more MMORPG approach to gameplay or if it'll have a more arcadey edge. Ideally we'd like to see an FPS-style shooter with RPG-style stats managing your player development.
Like the GTA games, player freedom will be an important element of APB (which stands for All Points Bulletin, the US cop codename for a crime alert that goes to all active officers on patrol). "It has been my dream to create an online game experience that provides the player with the ultimate freedom to do whatever he wants, in a thriving, living environment," said David Jones.
Jones founded DMA Design, the developer behind the Lemmings series and the original Grand Theft Auto Game. His new studio, Real Time Worlds, is based in Dundee. Korean company Webzen will handle publishing duties on APB.
No format has been announced for APB, but on Real Time World's official website it states, "our current projects are in development on both current and next-generation platforms." A PC version seems a safe bet, but could APB also be sliding onto PS3, Xbox 2 and Revolution?
An early 2007 release is slated for APB, although WebZen and Real Time Worlds promise the game will be showcased at this year's E3 in May. We'll certainly keep an eye out for it.
More news on this potentially awesome MMO soon.