Review- Forza Horizon 5
As the minutes ticked down, the days faded away and the months went by, the excitement of being able to play Forza Horizon 5 started to build slowly but surely. Finally, launch day arrives, Forza Horizon 5 starts with a bang, the opener eclipses the openers of Forza Horizon 3 and 4 in one fell swoop with extravaganza aplenty. Forza Horizon 5 leaves players with no doubt in how vast the game’s map will be, the huge variety of races, storylines and side quests that will greet players as they progress through the stages.
Forza Horizon has long been a game series that excites lovers of fast cars, cars that many could only ever dream of driving, locations that just lend themselves to driving, and a formula to a game that draws players in, making the hours just roar by. Forza Horizon 5 steps up to the plate as the latest offering in the Horizon franchise and in a location that allows players to experience vastly different driving experiences as they discover the vast map that is Mexico. There is no doubt that this is shaping up to be a popular entry into the franchise that has been around since 2012.
Mexico lends itself to be the new location for the latest Horizon game and the game which was developed by Playground Games and published by Xbox Game Studios doesn’t disappoint. The ability to explore an open world that is not only the largest map in the franchise’s history, but is also 50% larger than Forza Horizon 4. According to Playground Games, the Mexico map of Forza Horizon 5 is one of the most diverse maps they have built. The choice to use Mexico as the game’s location is a masterstroke given that it is such a vast nation with such a wide range of elevations, multiple climates would appear in the game at around the same time. The four seasons still exist but would affect the eleven unique biomes around the map.
Players can tell that Playground Games and Xbox Game Studios have learned from what went wrong and what was missing in the previous Forza Horizon entries with a huge amount of work poured into the world that players see before them as they journey across the vast open world of Mexico. There has been a boost to visual aspects, most noticeably in the way lighting, tyre smoke and dust behave as the players drive through dirt and mud, perform burnouts and drive as the time of day and seasons change in-game. The developers have given the customisation of cars an upgrade with hundreds and hundreds of new custom parts, rims, performance mods and cars for players to choose from, allowing players to create their own unique experiences. Furthermore, there have been drastic sound improvements, better handling, more granular preferences and options, more online activities which serve to round out the player’s experience of Forza.
Forza Horizon 5 introduces players to a brand new Horizon Arcade which consists of a series of mini-multiplayer games strewn across the map. “Piñata pop” is one such multiplayer game with the Horizon Festival’s cargo plane dropping piñatas. The aim is to pop as many piñatas as the player can with the help of other players. There is also the ability to create custom games, races and more depending on the personal preferences of players by accessing “EventLab”. Forza Horizon 5 brings a new feature called “Forza Link” to the world in which it is an AI assistant that tracks the current statuses of players, helping them to link with other players online and play together. Forza Link can also link players’ GPS systems if they accept the invitation from another player whilst exploring the world of Forza Horizon 5.
The vastness that players find before them on the map of Mexico allows the game’s developers to flesh out the gameplay in Forza Horizon 5 with missions that offer players the chance to race through a film set as a stunt driver, or go up against other street racers dressed as Mexican wrestlers. Though it felt as if the challenges were at times an afterthought that was added to a race purely because it could be in an attempt to make an ordinary race seem more exciting. The moments when Forza Horizon 5 utilises the landscape and location in unique ways are few and far between which leaves players wanting more.
A new addition in Forza Horizon 5 is the inclusion of Accolades. Accolades are mini tasks that reward players with experience points, customisation items and cars. There are over 1,876 accolades available in the world of Forza Horizon that players will have plenty to do outside of exploring, racing and expanding the festival sites. There are also the Forzathon challenges, which involve jumping certain distances, completing tournaments against “unbeatable” AI drivers (the toughest difficulty level) and more. Each one rewards players with Forzathon points which can be spent in the Forzathon shop. Just finishing these tasks in exchange for rare vehicles can take up a lot of time. Earning the highest ratings on all drift zones, speed cameras, danger zone jumps, road races, cross-country races, rallies, drag strips and more will keep players busy.
One addition that is welcomed to the Forza Horizon is the accessibility options that have been included in the game which celebrates the diverse world that exists around us. Never before as a gamer have I ever witnessed a game with so much to offer when it comes to accessibility in games with Forza Horizon 5, loaded with options that will make every gamer feel as if they are truly a part of the Forza Horizon universe. Some accessibility options included are the Game Speed Modification setting that allows gamers to play Forza Horizon 5 at a reduced speed when playing offline, High Contrast mode that changes colours to make things such as menus and text easier to distinguish for gamers, as well as colour blindness mode allows players with colour blindness to better visualise game elements. Players can adjust colour-blind settings independently for the UI and the game visuals.
As a deaf gamer, there was so much to choose from when it came to the options available for subtitles. With these, players can turn subtitles on or off, adjust the font size, adjust the background opacity, ability to highlight keywords, customise menu and gameplay font size, screen reader narrator that reads text, buttons and other elements aloud, text-to-speech and speech-to-text options for players that want to participate in Voice Chat and either need to send synthesized voice or receive voice chat as-synthesized text. Forza Horizon 5 is a game that celebrates people for who they are regardless of whether they have a disability or not and for this, Playground Games and Xbox Game Studios are to be applauded.
Forza Horizon 5 is a game that can be played by the whole family and played in front of the kids, with a wide variety of races, story-based missions and activities that will keep players interested. The addition of accessibility options means that no one will feel left out of the game which can only mean that the Forza Horizon community will get bigger and better as more people start to play Forza.
J for One More Game
10 – Masterpiece – This game is a must play for anyone who plays games. A day one purchase is worth every cent.
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Forza Horizon 5 was reviewed on the Xbox Series X with a code that was kindly provided by the publisher for this game. All thoughts on this game are ours and ours alone.