Apex

Overview

Racing titles have been through a lot over the past few years, and to be honest it has been a while since I have played a racing title that really caught my eye. Well, when I first saw some images of Infogrames’ Apex (Racing Evoluzione in Europe), I was amazed by the jaw-dropping graphics. So can Apex make its mark as a top racing title for the Xbox or will the game fail and die miserably? Well, after completing the game I am going to have to say it’s some where in between the two.

Gameplay

Milestone knew going into making a racing title that everyone is looking for something new and innovative for the racing genre. Well along with licensing some nice car brands (Toyota, Lotus, Mercedes) the game also allows you to come up with your own brand of cars.

Apex hosts only to really two main modes, which is the Dream Mode (Career Mode) as well as an Arcade mode. In the arcade mode you are able to race the tracks you have unlocked in the Dream Mode either individually or against "1" friend. After playing the multiplayer mode I did notice there was some minor slow down while playing the two player game but it would have been nice to seen some more multiplayer options like a system link option or even the ability to play it on the Xbox Live service.

It’s quite obvious though that the game revolves around the Dream Mode. In this mode you will buy an old run down garage that has been deserted, but the old owners have left behind three blue prints of concept cars. You get the ability to choose one and try to promote your vehicle (by winning races) to the best of your ability to sell your concept car. As you progress through the mode you will witness the expansion of your garage into a major corporation. So what the mode really comes down to is it’s your job to win races so you can open up new options for your garage to further enhance your vehicles.

If you have heard anything about Apex you probably remember hearing that you get to design your own cars. Well that’s not the case at all. You get to choose from a list of cars like all the other racing titles. The only customizing you really have of the car is the paint and some minor alterations to your car. So the customization that was supposed to be a huge portion of the game isn’t quite as good as one would hope.

Apex tries it’s best to be a simulation game and in some aspects it does a nice job but for the most part the realism isn’t all there. This isn’t really found in your control over your vehicle, but the computer AI isn’t all there. A prime example of the flaws are when you get in a wreck and find your self way out of the sites of your opponents, but in fact it seems like the computer slows down so you can catch up, which doesn’t sound like a racing simulation to me.

Apex is one of the few racing simulations that you can pick up and play and be quite successful in your races. The controls are very simple; and the game plays a lot like all of the racing titles on the Xbox.

I believe it should be a standard for all games released for the Xbox to have 5.1 support, and especially racing titles. Thankfully Milestone included the support and brought some nice sound special effects to the table. The biggest downside to the game’s sound was in game sound. The game hosts some odd Techno that will get old really fast. Luckily Milestone also added the feature to customize the soundtrack with your own, which is what I would highly recommend doing.

Graphics

By far the best thing Apex does is look good throughout the whole game, and in fact it just may be the best looking racing title on the market today. This can be found in all of the aspects of the game but most notably when viewing the cars before a big race. Each car fully represents what they are trying to imitate in superb detailed fashion. The cars even look very nice when they get in big accidents. The crash sequences throughout the game are quite nice looking, and really represent what you would expect to happen in the crashes.

The environments of Apex are also just as impressive as the cars. Considering there are fifty-four tracks at your disposal throughout the game, Milestone did an excellent job of not making the tracks look too repetitive, but keeping them looking clean and sharp.

The game also incorporates a lot of special effects that really boost up the overall score of the graphics. The main effect would be the nice lighting effects that aren’t the best we have ever seen but they get the job done.

Fun Factor

Apex is a racing title that besides the big talk about customizing a vehicle is really just a normal racing title. Although Apex is supposed to be a pure simulation it is still got some forgiving factors that in my eyes is what makes it a lot more fun. The Dream Mode starts out to be quite amusing while watching your garage expand but the mode losing its flare just because there aren’t enough customizable options to use.

Overall

Apex is a solid racing title that does fall a little short in some of the key aspects of the title. The computer AI is probably the biggest problem, this is what holds the game back from being a solid simulation, and this is what also holds the game back from getting a top-notch score.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.