You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. This is especially true when developing a racing game. If you look at the Mercedes-Benz E-Class from the 1950s, you can see how the model has evolved over the decades through small innovations and improvements. However, you can still see the similarity and brand affinity in each iteration. This is the case with “Forza Horizon 5”.
Breathtaking place with variety
This time around, developer Playground Games takes the player into a fictional representation of Mexico – a series of different biomes through which a large selection of cars can race, drift and jump. Players will get to know this vast and beautiful environment – the best in the series to date – by parachuting from the tail of a cargo plane. The camera pans in a close-up of the car sliding down before moving into an active volcano filled with smoke and lava flows. It hit the ground and immediately dropped the first steep cliff.
Next, you will be racing through a sandstorm in a Chevrolet Corvette with particle effects and dust clouds filling the screen. The way the light illuminates the spots makes you feel like you’re shooting through the orange fog in Blade Runner 2042. Shortly thereafter, I sit in a Porsche 911 avoiding trees in the woods—if you spoil your eyes, you can almost venture into a video game adapted from Return of the Jedi. On the wheel of a speeding bicycle.
This is an exciting introduction to the world, but it’s just a taste – there’s a lot more to come. Hundreds of racing activities scattered across the map can be selected. There are fast-paced parades, neon-lit street races, runway drag races, gym-like stunt courses and much more. One minute you’re jumping over sand dunes in a buggy and the next you’re drifting around street corners on the April skyline. From off-road gravel on the slopes to wide, open expanses of land, it’s the perfect playground for petrol lovers, yet so accessible that you don’t even have to care about cars to enjoy it.
Balancing action between arcade and simulation
This is where Forza Horizon has always shined – finding a middle ground between arcade racing and simulation, where mistakes don’t necessarily cost the race, but cars still behave as expected. It is a racing game where the obstacles on the road are more like suggestions. You can even get points for driving through objects and leaving a trail of destruction. The game says when you fail. “Smacktus!” Screams when you drive around a row of cacti. It doesn’t matter if you can follow the racing streak or not, in Forza Horizon 5 you will be rewarded for everything you do. There is always progress in some direction and no obstacle is insurmountable. This accessibility is coupled with dozens of customization options, which even extend to prosthetics, pronouns, and tone in the character customization menu. Almost every aspect of the difficulty level can be modified to suit one’s abilities.
For all these reasons, Forza Horizon 5 is a racing game that almost goes beyond the genre. If you want to get into the details, you can tune your cars down to the aerodynamics and weight, but there are also options to apply upgrades automatically. There are many options, but it never feels overwhelmed. Anyone can spend all their time in the game creating custom livers for other players to enjoy – it’s as much a Pimp My Ride simulation game as it is a racing game. It might be as predictable as a NASCAR race, but there’s no good reason to pick up the pace when you’re miles ahead of the competition.
Sometimes silence is golden
There isn’t much criticism of “Forza Horizon 5” – but it’s certainly not perfect. First of all, after a few minutes you wish that all the characters in the game would finally shut up. Radio hosts are still fine, but everyone has to keep quiet sometimes. The festival atmosphere works, but do you really have to listen to people talk about their grandfather who made vintage cars? Do you even need cinematic scenes in a racing game with people talking? Not right.
However, it is a pity that the night does not last long enough. At first I wasn’t sure if there was a day and night cycle at all. Fortunately, it’s there, but it seems to be light 95 percent of the time and nighttime the rest of the time. This is only annoying because the game looks very cool in the dark. They look great no matter the time of day, but there’s just something special about seeing headlights twinkling on the rainy streets. In addition, raindrops themselves can sometimes suck on the screen so hard that restarting the game will dry it out again. Other than that, the game has very few bugs – unlike gigs of which there are a lot.
Best branch ever?
It doesn’t matter which car you drive. Each vehicle feels great in its own way. Soon you have a number of favorite items for each type of racing, but you can quickly give them up to get a new car. New cars land in your garage so fast that you wouldn’t mind giving them to other players with the new gift mechanism.
And the world! It just blows and what the series took after Endless Hills in the UK. Racing down the volcano will always be more exciting than driving through a pub in the country. Forza Horizon 5 is a real treat. In fact, Forza Horizon 5 is probably the best racing game ever, and you should try it, even if you don’t usually like racing games.
“Alcohol buff. Troublemaker. Introvert. Student. Social media lover. Web ninja. Bacon fan. Reader.”