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Game review: Forza Horizon 5 (Xbox Series X)

By Damian Seeto, Mon 8 Nov 2021

The Forza Motorsport series started way back in 2005 for the original Xbox console. It was a simulation racer, much like the Gran Turismo series on PlayStation consoles. However, a spinoff called Forza Horizon was released for the Xbox 360 in 2012, and it is arguably the more enjoyable franchise. 

Rather than featuring real-world circuits and realistic game physics, the Forza Horizon series is more catered to casual gamers that just want to have fun. While you can increase the game’s difficulty, at its heart, it’s still an arcade-style of racer. 

Ever since the Forza Horizon series started, two of my favourite racing games of all time have been Forza Horizon 3 and Forza Horizon 4. My expectations for Forza Horizon 5 are really high since this game makes its debut on the newly released Xbox Series X and S consoles. 

The first thing that most people will notice about Forza Horizon 5 is just how gorgeous the game looks on the newer Xbox consoles. You can opt to play with full 4K graphics with the game running at 30fps if you prefer high fidelity visuals. On the other hand, you can choose ‘performance’ instead, which allows the game to run at 60fps on Xbox Series X. 

While the game looks great on Xbox Series X on both visual modes, I actually preferred playing the game at 60fps. For some reason, the game looks smoother and fluid when you are playing it at a faster framerate. If you own an Xbox One, sadly, you can only play the game at 30fps. PC players, however, don’t have any limits to their framerate!

Forza Horizon 3 was my favourite setting mainly because the game was located in Australia. Not only did it feature the Outback, but it also included lovely looking forests and the Gold Coast. Well, Forza Horizon 5 is also pretty looking too as it features lots of diverse locations set in the country of Mexico. 

Much like Forza Horizon 3, Mexico in the fifth game includes tons of natural-looking environments. You can race in the jungle, explore ancient ruins, and drive by the beach and more. If you are more into street racing, there are some city elements mixed into the game as well. Overall, the whole island is great to explore because of all the different and diverse locations to gander at. 

In terms of gameplay, Forza Horizon 5 is pretty similar to its predecessors. You have an entire island to explore, and you can do as many activities as you want. There are traditional road races, street races, dirt races, and story events. 

If you don’t feel like racing, there are other road activities that you can do as well. This may include drift challenges, speed traps, finding boards to break and even danger sign jumps. The danger sign challenge is my favourite task in the entire game because it’s fun jumping off of ramps and seeing how far your car can go. The faster the car you have, the bigger the jump will be!

The single-player campaign is large, and it will take you several hours to finish everything that the game has to offer. The best part of the game is that it caters to people of all skill levels. You can make the game easy by making the car easier to drive, and the opponents aren’t fast. However, you can also increase the difficulty by making the physics more realistic and the opponents more aggressive.  

What I like most about the game is the fact that you win cars and earn money at a really fast pace. This isn’t a game where you have to do the same race over and over again to earn money. By winning races and doing stunt challenges, you level up really quickly, and the money and XP come in fast. There are over 500 cars in this game, so you should never get bored with the diverse selection. 

Outside of the single-player campaign, there are some online multiplayer modes that you can do in this game as well. Sadly I wasn’t able to play much of the multiplayer modes before launch. You should have a better idea of what multiplayer has to offer when the game is out for all players on November 9th. 

A new feature of this game is the Eventlab Creator Toolset. This is a new mode that allows you to create your own tracks and game modes. I remember doing one game mode where I had to get lots of skill points by drifting around a track and running over Fall Guys cardboard cut-outs. There are lots of possibilities of this mode, and I look forward to what the community comes up with in the future. 

As fun as this game is, Forza Horizon 5 still feels like its predecessors in most ways. Aside from some small new features, the main game is mostly the same. Not that this is a bad thing, although you might be a little disappointed if you wanted to see a whole new experience. 

The other thing I don’t like about this game is that it still costs money if you want to fast travel. You need to buy houses before you can fast travel. After you buy a house, it costs approximately 9000 credits every time you want to go back to a different area of the map. I wish fast travel was free because it can take a long time to travel across the whole island. 

Aside from a few small flaws, Forza Horizon 5 is still a great addition to the Horizon series. While it may not be innovative, the game is enjoyable, and it features very pretty graphics if you are playing it on Xbox Series X. The best part is that you don’t even need to buy the game at full price. The full game is available via your Game Pass subscription at no extra charge.

Verdict: 9.5/10

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