APOX offers an innovating concept with a disappointing delivery.
And it all started with an idea. That’s what APOX's epitaph will read one day, long after everyone has forgotten about it. As modern warfare is a crowded theme to say the least, it’s not easy to pick either a Real-Time Strategy (RTS) or a First Person Shooter (FPS) in that genre, which you can make stand out of the crowd. Therefore, Indian developer Bluegiant Interactive thought to blend these two things into one and set you in some sort of post-apocalyptic world straight out of Mad Max, but without Looney Tunes Mel.
This resulted in a somewhat monochrome setting in which all buildings and vehicles are made from scrap quite literally. As your building items from Salvage, everything you see in the sand and rock piles of this world will be discarded pieces of metal put back together, culminating into one shade of brown. The only real upside is the quaint details within structures that resemble the works of Banksy; a graffiti artist for those of you unfamiliar with the man. But as even the sound design is very monotonous, with what seems like one beat, the superficial appeal of APOX falls flat-out short. Exacerbating that, some of the sound effects seem almost directly plagiarized from powerhouse RTS games like Command & Conquer and Starcraft. So, we’ll have to dig deeper to see what this game has to offer.
The concept is simple and yet ingenious: Blending several genres together, you create an RTS with a lot more realism, where units are all similar, have limited ammo and can jump into each other’s vehicles. By combining FPS elements within, each unit now can carry 2 weapons and a knife, making his class whatever he has handy at the time. Apart from using Salvage for buildings, you can also collect Gas for fuel, Survivors for units and Ammo for chickens, I mean ammo. Your units take over from there and switch in between the resources and hand them out to each other, as if every day on the battlefield was Christmas. They’ll even share weapons with each other, even though you didn’t ask them to, nor needed it; that’s how caring they are.
Combat is defined in between 4 main classes; being Riflemen, Heavy Gunners, Snipers and Flamers, which have no connection to any sexual preference. Just like in real life, your weapon can break at the most inopportune moment; which is why you can switch weapons and loot corpses for combat resources. It’s a war out there after all. To further into the FPS world, a soldier can also crawl, go prone or sprint to alter your combat tactic and stealth situation. Each unit has 2 hands to create buildings and an engineering degree to come up with the schematics; these guys can do it all. Unsurprisingly, that also means they can hop into any empty vehicle they choose, as a driver’s license is probably no big deal after you’ve just erected a gas station from leftover oil drums.
This all sounds like a completely new way to look at warfare, with ingenious new implementations and cross-overs and what have you. The reality is that the idea behind APOX sounds awesome in theory, but is very poorly executed. As all are created equal in this comradely duel, there’s never any sense of variation behind an already very pedestrian appearance. There’s no difference between units and everyone just prays on remains, so there’s no real sense in building tactically, as you can very well just change it all instantaneously 3 seconds later. There is some cunning to be found with lines of fire, but that is the only positive aspect there is; all the rest is so damn dreary.
Adding insult to injury, each of the 8 available missions always boot you out and make you go through the entire logging process over again, as if it’s trying to tell you not to play. Rarely has a game been this uninviting in its banality. Even the interface is so poorly designed that anything depicted becomes unclear and unmanageable. In addition, each building requires soldiers to operate and most tasks need some sort of manual labor to work; from dropping off resources to collecting, etc.. This whole actually draws you out of the sense of engagement, instead of drawing you in. APOX feels more like you’re the army’s accountant micro-managing the battlefield, rather than being a general trying to survive the harsh reality of combat. It was like playing a game of Commandos meets Command & Conquer on serious antidepressants.