Poetry In Motion

HIGH Happiness at the press of a button.

LOW Eighth generation hiccups.

WTF Who curated the radio stations?

Forza Horizon 5 is an open-world racing title from Playground Games, and oh boy does it leave a good impression.

From the core of a raging volcano to the lush interior of a jungle, the opening sequence introduces us to our latest pastime majestically. The setup? The Horizon music festival has debuted in glorious Mexico — this much-anticipated concert is a blend of motoring and music across the nation, showcasing the best of both all year round.

The graphics — the first thing anyone will notice — are stellar, with enough detail to make the most robust graphics card blush. Foliage is dense, snow is thick, and the thunderstorms are terrifying.

The cars are marvels to look at, with detailed bodywork and colors offering deceptively real representations of their real-life models. For example, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS does an excellent job of distinguishing between the metallic and carbon fiber textures of the body, while the Ariel Atom’s skeletal design showcases Playground’s reverence for the vehicle as every nut and bolt is modelled with immaculate detail. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the lifeless humans populating the game — the subpar animations and motion capture are especially jarring compared to the vehicles and environments.

Forza’s gameplay is as sharp as ever. The Horizon series offers simulation precision coupled with the flexibility of an arcade-style racing, and this blend is still a core strength. Players who’d like to take a Ferrari around an airfield or cruise through a desert in a dune buggy can do both, and neither feels compromised.

The activities in Horizon 5 are vast and varied, with numerous race types on offer. However, even when fooling around outside of an ‘official’ activity, every action taken will provide some reward through its “Accolade” system – this series of actions grants players prizes for doing things like photographing vehicles or just painting the rims of their car.  

Whether drifting down the side of a volcano or customizing a ride with cat ears, there’s something here for car fans of all kinds, and the experience can be tailored to a heart’s content. The drone mode for instance can transform this racing game into a BBC nature documentary, or players can roam around the map on a scavenger hunt for hidden cars, or just to look at murals painted by Mexican artists.

It’s safe to say that Playground Games have delivered something special with Forza Horizon 5 – and as far as I’m concerned, this is currently the best driving game out there.

Rating: 8 out of 10

— Fumo Chabalala

Disclosures: This game is developed by Playground Games and published by Xbox Game Studios. It is currently available on XBO/X/S and PC. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to this review. Multiplayer is primarily a co-operative experience where players can join each other in a private lobby and roam around the open world or participate in shared race events. 5 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and contains no descriptors. It is an accessible, child-friendly and car-focused title.

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are present – specifically, filters for Deuteranopia, Protanopia, and Tritanopia.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles can be altered and/ or resized. Audio cues do not affect gameplay in any meaningful way. I’d say this game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls.

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