Forza 6 Apex
- Drive a Ferrari
- Spectacularly roll a Ferrari (without the cost)
- Drive a wide range of other cars
- Selection of tracks
- Great graphics and attention to detail
- Not as extensive as full-blow Forza
- In-game purchases
- Fairly expensive hardware required to play in full graphics glory
- Really hard (self-inflicted)
One of my childhood dreams was to drive a Ferrari. There was something extremely alluring about the rosso corsa paint, the Prancing Horse emblem and the tan leather that made my little heart race like nothing else. That, and the speed… and the incredible sound.
Somehow, I lost sight of that goal and ended up driving a Camry (yes, I can hear 11 year old James screaming at me from the distant past). To this day I have never realized that dream of sitting at the wheel of Italy’s most iconic automotive brand.
Luckily for me, there is a way to revive those childhood fantasies, somewhat. Forza 6 Apex.
Forza 6 Apex is the Free (in-game purchases available, but not necessary to progress) PC version of the long-running Forza series. Forza 2 and 3 are games I fondly remember playing in my Xbox 360 days (you know, the days before wife and kid). Forza 6 Apex delivers the same smooth racing experience of its console brethren, although in a pared down way (as you would expect from a free version).
I felt giddy as a schoolboy as I sat behind the wheel of a 1965 Ford Mustang GT Coupe in my first Forza race. The sun glared through my windscreen and slightly obscured my vision of the Sebring International Raceway ahead. The lights changed and I was off, picking up speed as I headed down the main straight. Suddenly, the cars in front slowed and too late I realised that braking was an important part of this game. I clipped the back of 1970 Camaro as I attempted to regain control of the situation, but it was too late. I was destined for a rather heavy encounter with the safety wall on the far side of the track. I sat, virtually immobile, with warning messages flashing up on the HUD – Right Front Suspension Damaged, Right Front Brake Damaged, Steering Damaged. It was in that moment that I realised that perhaps I was not the hot-shot that I imagined myself to be, and perhaps I needed to embrace driver assists, at least to begin with.
I turned back on some of the assists and soon found myself getting the feel for the car. After a few attempts, I had won the race and was ready for my next challenge. I Drove a Subaru WRX through the rain around Brands Hatch and then faced the tough choice of a Nissan GT-R, Ferrari California, or Jaguar XKR-S GT around the Yas Marina Circuit at night. I chose the Nissan GT-R, despite my longing to thrash a Ferrari, as I felt it was the better car for the job.
From there I moved on to an absurd bowling-pin challenge around the Top Gear track in a Ford Pick-up, before finally, my time to fulfil boyhood fantasies had arrived – an all Italian showdown at Spa, between a Lamborghini Huracan and a Ferrari 458 Speciale. Naturally, I chose the 458 in glorious rossa corsa.
I was confused at first, as the track appeared to be infested by an inexhaustible supply of Fiat Puntos. My Lamborghini adversary was nowhere to be seen. However, I soon realised that the Puntos served the purpose of achieving the Perfect Passes goal – that meant that I was supposed to pass by as close as possible, without hitting them (many Puntos were harmed in the completion of this challenge). Eventually I figured out that I also had to hunt down and overtake the Lamborghini before the two laps were complete. Each race in Forza 6 Apex includes additional goals that can be achieved, to earn extra points. I like this, because it takes some of the emphasis off finishing first. There were several races where I finished happily in fourth place – something I’m not used to doing in racing games.
It was during the Ferrari challenge that I realised one of the distinct advantages of simulation over the real thing. I approached a light bend in the track with way too much speed and after a series of manic overcorrections and slight contact with an unsuspecting Punto I found myself looking at Spa in a whole new way as my now less-than-pristine Ferrari completed a series of about five rolls. The familiar waning messages flashed up, assuring me that my precious 458 was no longer in drivable condition. No matter, a press of the Restart button and my car was shiny and new again.
Forza 6 Apex has a range of tracks, cars and racing types. It very cleverly incorporates challenges in every race, in an effort to gently wean players from driver assists and raise the difficulty level. I found that once I had successfully completed a race with an assist turned off, I usually didn’t go back to it. Unfortunately, that meant I eventually became a bit sick of the game when I had to restart a particularly problematic night race one too many times. Of course, I could go back and turn on some assists, but that would feel like a backwards step.
The game is quite demanding of your computer hardware and you will want to have something fairly new and with a good graphics card to run it in all of its ultra glory. My i7 6700 and GTX 1060 had no trouble with this task, maintaining a framerate on or around 60fps at 1080p. Check the specifications to make sure your computer meets the requirements before completing the hefty download.
I recommend Forza 6 Apex for any parent who is looking to relive childhood fantasies of fast, loud, shiny cars, once they have put the little one to bed. It is a game you can pick up every now and then and play for a little while, without becoming overly obsessed. It does not have the full depth of a proper Forza game, but then again, it doesn’t have the price tag either. In-game purchases are available, but easy to resist.