I first want to start off this review by disclosing that I’m a huge car guy as well as a gamer, a car video game match made in heaven. While I don’t think this is everyone I would assume most people that play racing games, at least racing simulations like Forza and Gran Turismo are into cars. If you are, then Forza: Apex will not disappoint. Each of the different race categories gives a short video on the history of the category and they are very well done. Microsoft spared no expense and you will probably recognize some voice actors. If you don’t recognize James May, you need to go watch some Top Gear (the real one). While I’m normally not a fan of racing games on the PC unless you have a nice (expensive) race wheel and pedals, this one pairs nicely with the Xbox One controller. The force feedback in the triggers is especially nice. I’m used to playing my racing games on consoles so this is a must-have controller for me. On top of car history, you also get a brief history of all the tracks when you first play them. This is the first time for the Forza series on the PC and it’s available in 4k, if you have the hardware to support it. Microsoft lists three sets of specs, minimum, recommended and ideal. Recommended specs are for 1080p support and Ideal are needed for 4k support, which is a 980ti or Fury X with 6gb of video memory or better. I was, unfortunately. unable to take advantage of the 4k setting, a shame as I’m sure it’s amazing if the YouTube videos are any indication.
As far as gameplay goes, this lives up to its Forza heritage in true racing simulation fashion. The amount of options in the difficulty category is impressive. There are 8 different levels of “Drivatar” which is a measure of your computer aided brethren on the track with you. The rain obviously makes the roads slick but puddles also build up and make you hydroplane. There is an in-game narrator for much of the beta which explains all the options (like I mentioned they are many).
Another departure this game makes from the norm is the fact that Microsoft looks to make this a free to play game, with “optional” micro-transactions. I can honestly say for the most part I’m not a huge fan of this model. Depending on how “optional” these transactions are will determine the validity of this game for me. Look to Dota2 for example, the game is completely free and the only thing to pay for is skins which have zero effect on actual gameplay. Dota2 is a great example of this model, not sure if I trust Microsoft to do the same considering it didn’t take long for them to bug me to buy extra cars. It also looks like another sneaky way Microsoft is going to get you to upgrade to Windows 10, did I mention that was a minimum requirement?
Either way, if you’re looking for an in-depth racing simulator, I don’t know that you could do any better than Forza: Apex. It also looks like were a few days away from seeing some footage of a new Gran Turismo game. I’m excited to see the racing simulation arms race get ignited once more. If you’ve got Windows 10 go and get that 18GB download started.