Racing games really need to do something a little different to get noticed nowadays, and Infogrames' Apex--which is being developed by Milestone Studios--does just that with its innovative career mode.
The story goes that you have just inherited a garage from an uncle, and the object of the game is to build a successful car brand by racing prototype models bearing your chosen name and logo against established brands including the likes of Toyota, Aston Martin, Lotus, Mercedes, and Renault. All the cars in the game have been painstakingly re-created by the same team responsible for the models in Infogrames' Stuntman and V-Rally 3 titles, and they even come complete with authentic dashboards visible through the vehicles' rear windows when playing from one of the four camera views available.
There are more than 50 courses in the game, and the racing takes place in four distinct locales: city, mountain, stadium, and racetrack. By winning races, you improve the image of your vehicle, which will in turn help the vehicle sell better. The extra money raised through sales can then be used to build extensions on the garage or hire additional staff as the company grows and expands its range of concept vehicles to include increasingly powerful racing and supercar models.
The version of the game we were able to test drive is far from finished, and although the visuals were in the same league as those in Project Gotham Racing, none of the damage models for the cars have been implemented yet and the handling was challenging, to say the least. The cars in the game handle pretty realistically already, and, as is Milestone's intention, players will need to brake into corners rather than handbrake or powerslide around them to succeed. Right now, most of the cars we got behind the wheel of were suffering from a little understeer, but, like the occasional drops in the frame rate, this is sure to be rectified before the game ships later this year. We'll bring you more information on Apex as it becomes available.