While some franchises and series entries get bogged down with technical details and over-elaborate management modes, Forza Horizon is all about making racing games feel fun again, and Forza Horizon 5 is the pinnacle of that endeavour.
For this Forza Horizon playground of vehicular chaos, the franchise has moved to the sun-soaked beaches and lush jungles of Mexico — a rather fitting setting that provides the series’ most dynamic and diverse tracks and routes to date. Whether your street race turns into a dash across the beach, or your 4×4 jungle battle turns into a downhill drift into a volcano, there’s always something gorgeous to gawk at and challenge your reaction time.
Like previous Horizon entries, this is not a hardcore racing sim, and rather a fever-dream fantasy of what high-end racing should be. Cars are all fully licensed and reflect their real-life counterparts, but steering is loose and drifty, the highest of speed limits are easy to hit, and taking a Lamborghini on an offroad shortcut is the norm. This arcade feel, while approachable, has a load of depth to it too, which makes Forza Horizon 5 an extremely accessible experience for those who like a little bit of ‘edge’ to their racing, but still appeals to those who love the finer appreciation of timing drifts and planning meticulous overtakes.
Instead of cold, lifeless race markers or menus, you truly do feel like you’re competing in something ‘bigger’ in Forza Horizon 5. The festival element is present throughout the game world, with vivid flags, structures, and designs splattered across the Mexican landscape, really making you feel like you and your racing buddies have taken over the town and surrounding areas for the weekend.
Of course, the Forza Horizon series has always been a looker, and the fifth entry ups the ante on the graphical front. The racing is silky smooth and you won’t see a framerate hiccup anyway (at least not in our experience). In addition to the meticulously detailed cars, the particle effects — whether mud flying or shooting-gravel — always looks superb and add a tangibility to the racing, making you feel like your car’s wheels are firmly planted in the game world… well, at least before and after you ramp over a palm tree.
The Forza Horizon series has been setting the benchmark of an open-world arcade racer for quite some time now, and with Forza Horizon 5, the team at Playground Games are leaving little room for anyone to catch up. It’s one of the best-looking, best-feeling, and overall best racing games you’ll have the pleasure of getting your hands on.
Forza Horizon 5 is available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.
MotoGP 22 Review — Cutting Corners or Perfect Season?
Does the latest entry into the fan-loved MotoGP series deliver a knockout lap?
The MotoGP franchise has seen a steady rise in quality over the years, with MotoGP 21 delivering one of the best games in the series to date thanks to some serious overhauls. However, the franchise did have some growing pains and weird omissions making its leap to the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Thankfully, it’s safe to say that MotoGP 22 has ironed out these kinks for a much more comprehensive (and gorgeous) experience.
MotoGP 21 saw a huge boost in visual fidelity, but MotoGP 22 has rounded off the presentation to represent something even closer to the real-life action. From the moment you boot up the game to your first pull-off from the startling line, it’s clear that MotoGP 22 has seen some polishing up to an admittedly jaw-dropping level. There are a lot of reused assets and cut-scenes from MotoGP 21, but the tweaks to animations, spiffier track details, shinier bikes, and an effective motion blur push MotoGP 22 to photorealistic levels.
Of course, the on-track racing is the real test, and on the Playstation 5, MotoGP 22 runs like a dream. Speeding through the MotoGP 22 season tracks and venues in glorious 4K, 60 frames a second is quite the exhilarating rush, which finally captures the blistering sensation of speed and frenetic energy of the real-life event.
With the series essentially nailing the look and feel of the real-life MotoGP, the latest games are really about refining that and adding new elements to enhance the little moments on and off the track, with the utmost realism being the goal in mind. Some tweaks to the physics stand out this time around, as your bike feels and moves like its own entity, rather than being directly attached to your rider, along with a greater focus on how your tyres and suspension perform on the track.
Real bike-nuts will get a huge kick out of tweaking everything from aerodynamics, electronics, engine power and consumption, chassis, and even petrol management. The great thing is, MotoGP 22 doesn’t just make it an aesthetic distraction of gauges and numbers, because, with each tiny adjustment, you can actually feel the difference on the track.
And you’ll need to refine your bike and approach as racing (like the real thing) can be brutal if mistakes are made, but incredibly rewarding when done right. In this regard, MotoGP 22 prides itself on being a true simulation, requiring an understanding of your acceleration speed, braking capacity, and distance, and a familiarity with the track you’re taking on. Thankfully, a new tutorial mode has been added to help newcomers familiarise themselves with the layered systems that exist in MotoGP 22.
While the action around the apexes is sublime, those who enjoy the culture and management off the track have a lot to indulge in too. The Managerial Career, whereby you have to run and coordinate your team (admittedly, there is a lot to get your head around), still delivers the most comprehensive look behind the curtains of MotoGP that you’ll find anywhere.
Add in the fact that you get all the official rosters and tracks of the 2022 Season, and MotoGP 22 really is a high point of the series. While the improvements are gradual year-on-year, you can’t fault the game itself as a standalone experience, add in the fact that split-screen now makes an appearance, and it’s a reasonable upgrade from last year. All in all, MotoGP 22 has seen enough refinements and interesting add-ons to keep bike-fanatics invested for another year.
MotoGP 22 is available on Xbox Series X|S, PS5, Xbox One PS4, Switch, and PC.
MenStuff reviewed the title on PS5.
3 Game Reviews in 3 Minutes — Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, MLB: The Show 22
Check out our takes on the latest games hitting the South African market.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands
Available on: PS5 | Xbox Series X | PS4 | Xbox One | PC
What is it? A spin-off of Gearbox’s beloved Borderlands franchise, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is another over-the-top first-person shooter full of guns, great humour, and some outlandish bad guys to dispose of.
Is it any good? While Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands piggybacks off the mechanics, foundation, and design of its bigger brother franchise, Borderlands, the game is a surprisingly confident and self-contained shooter, that brings similar humour and shoot-’em-up flair that fans of Borderlands will love. The fact that the game and story doubles-down on the table-top RPG/Dungeons and Dragons spoofing is great and fits in well with the tone, and the abilities and spells are a blast to use in conjunction with your weapons. With that said, it does tend to retread a lot of the same grind-y mistakes that Borderlands does, culminating in a lot of work to push some XP and level numbers up.
It’s still a fun time though, and shooter fans and those in-the-know of D&D and the like will love the satire and inside jokes strewn across the adventure.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Available on: PS5 | Xbox Series X | PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC
What is it? While it seems like there’s a Lego Star Wars game coming out every odd month, this title is the big one – it’s the creme-de-la-creme of the Lego Star Wars franchise, combining the entire Skywalker saga story, and reinventing the gameplay with new combat mechanics, an over-the-shoulder shooting system, and a whole lot of new tricks.
Is it any good? A fully-fledged Star Wars game exploring the Skywalker saga would be nice, but we’re happy to do it even if a Lego one is the closest we’re going to get. Thankfully, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker saga is a fantastically well-designed experience, giving you simple yet incredibly enjoyable combat and exploration. It won’t deliver the most nuanced gameplay experience to hardcore gamers, but even those who enjoy light platforming and action games of a more ‘mature’ setting will find a lot to indulge in here.
Even if you’ve played previous Lego Star Wars games and are overly familiar with the Star Wars story at this point, this is still a hilarious and enjoyably blocky retelling of the iconic scenarios with enough gameplay twists to keep things fresh.
MLB: The Show 22
Available on: PS5 | Xbox Series X | PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC
What is it? The latest instalment of the official Major League Baseball game, that has garnered quite the following since its reinvention a couple of years back.
Is it any good? Baseball might be a somewhat obscure and niche sport for South Africans to love, but the quality of the MLB: The Show releases can’t be disputed, and MLB: The Show 22 doesn’t break that untarnished run. The moment-to-moment gameplay is fun and snappy, with pitching and hitting as simple or intricate as you’d like, being very accessible to newcomers and rewarding for baseball-nuts too. Off-field, there is a lot to enjoy, with the customisation tools being bolstered dramatically this year, giving essentially a baseball-themed RPG adventure, where you can tweak the abilities of your created players and build them up throughout the leagues.
It’s hard to recommend a game to someone that doesn’t have a love for the sport, but if you have the slightest inclination to dabble in some baseball action, you are not going to find a better gateway drug than MLB: The Show 22.
WWE 2K22 Review — Return of the Champ?
Spandex Smackdown or disappointing DDT?
There’s no denying it: WWE 2K20 wasn’t up to the standards we hoped for from the long-running wrestling series, but thankfully, 2K and Visual Concepts listened to the fans, acknowledged the shortcomings, and have done some serious overhauling for WWE 2K22, but is it a contender for the title of best wrestling game of all time?
The problem with the WWE games is that, much like FIFA with regards to football, they almost perfected the formua, and the on-going tinkering ended up breaking the experience with WWE 2K20. While physics were off, animations were broken, and the game just generally ran quite poorly, WWE 2K22 has refined all these elements thanks to a brand new engine. Developer Visual Concepts clearly took the fresh approach to the game, which, to be fair, was probably needed after years of déjà vu kicking in.
Big visual smackdown
The result is something that is still familiar, but looks and feels new, and while there’s definitely some adjusting needed, it really is a great overhaul. Visually, the game looks substantially better than WWE 2K20‘s waxy look, with the character models now resembling their real-life counterparts in frighteningly accurate detail, and the arena environments and crowd looking remarkably better.
Furthermore, there have been some reworked physics when it comes to tables, chairs, and the deformation of other items or objects you’ll smash your opponents’ heads through. This makes every table smash, chair shot, or breakage look a lot more organic. On top of that, thanks to the meticulous detail that the developer isn’t afraid to show off, there are some much closer camera angles during big moves and moments, giving you a front-row seat to the action.
There’s no doubt that the game looks better, but does it move better too? The gameplay tweaks have made WWE 2K22 the fairest and most dynamic game in the series to date. The light, heavy, and grapple attacks and control scheme is still there, but there are more opportunities for reversals and counters, giving players who are taking an absolute beating a chance to recover, even when things look bleak… just like the real-life action.
The fairer and ‘easier’ controls make putting together spectacular fights where the momentum swings back and forth between superstars much more common, which should make diving into the WWE 2K22 experience a lot more alluring for newcomers.
Against the odds
In a franchise-first, WWE 2K22 adds the MyFaction mode, which lets you build a faction that rivals the nWo. Almost like management mode to build the ultimate wrestling team, you can recruit, manage and upgrade your crew of WWE Superstars, putting them through their paces with weekly events and regular updates. It’s a great addition to the modes already available, and gives those who love the rivalries and familiar with the current who’s-who in WWE something to sink their teeth into. It should appease those who enjoy a little more team management elements in games, and although the depth of management doesn’t necessarily hold a candle to other games in the sports genre, it’s a nice touch.
Top of the ladder
If you’re looking for some more single-player immersive action, WWE 2K22 features not one, but two story campaigns. Known as the MyRise adventures, you’ll be able to start your career as either a male or female wrestler, each with unique storylines. The campaign, so to speak, itself is quite enjoyable, with a long list of rivals, trials, and tribulations, taking you through King of the Ring, Royal Rumble, and other arcs; all with campy romantic and bombastic side-plots that emerge. It’s cheesy, predictable, and fantastic! Anyone who’s a longtime fan of the outer-ring drama will love the effort and focus put into the MyRise mode.
The one drawback is that your MyRise superstar, during or after your single-player campaign, can’t be imported into other modes, requiring you to remake your character from scratch. This would’ve been a welcome element, as being able to pull your character from your MyRise journey into a team of wrestlers in the MyFaction mode would’ve been great, but alas. Thankfully, the creation suite is easy and fun to use, but having this function would’ve been a no-brainer.
Much like The Undertaker, it’s clear that the WWE 2K franchise has risen from the grave bigger, meaner, and stronger than ever, providing one of the best wrestling games in a long time. Regular fans of the series will appreciate the new changes, and newcomers who have lost track of the WWE world will find it to be the perfect jumping-on point to indulge in the spandex-clad superfluousness once again.
WWE 2K22 is available on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
5 Game Reviews in 5 Minutes — Elden Ring, GT 7, Elex 2 & More
Elden Ring? GT7? Are they good? Check out our reviews to find out!
Available on: PS5 | Xbox Series X | PS4 | Xbox One | PC
What is it? The team behind the beloved Dark Souls and Bloodborne series has joined forces with Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin for Elden Ring, a large open-world action RPG.
Is it any good? Elden Ring is easily the biggest, most ambitious, and gorgeous game to come out of the From Software studio. While it does try and differentiate itself, it does feel like a Souls game — the look, HUD, mechanics, and overall design of the game is very similar to those entries. That’s not a bad thing, though, as fans of the previous releases will feel right at home with Elden Ring. Technical combat, grotesque beasts, and high-fantasy are still name of the game here, however, the addition of being able to travel and fight on horseback is a great addition, giving you another combat option where possible.
Of course, people always ask: “how hard is it, really?” Well, very. The game doesn’t do any hand-holding and throws you into the world to stumble upon its horrors in any order you may find yourself tackling them in, so you will get punished a few times before you find your feet and begin to systematically work through the enemies and bosses.
It’s not for everyone, and that’s a given, but those who love these types of games will feel like Elden Ring is the magnum opus of everything the brutal-but-beloved developer has been working towards.
Gran Turismo 7
Available on: PS5 | PS4
What is it? The long-awaited instalment in the veteran Gran Turismo racing franchise, bringing photorealistic cars and tracks, along with all the true-to-life tinkering and customisation of the world’s most powerful street beasts.
Is it any good? As expected, the Gran Turismo franchise has essentially perfected the presentation at this point. The game brings stunning detail and breathtakingly nuanced visuals to all the vehicles, allowing those who really like their appreciation of the minutia to be addressed. The extent of the customisation options are mindblowing, and the racing itself is as slick as ever. The GT series has never been for the casual gamer, and nothing has changed here, delivering a very comprehensive and tactical approach to racing events across all categories. It’s not trying to do anything outside of the box, it’s just doing what we’ve come to know from the franchise, and making that box look damn impressive
Available on: PS5 | Xbox Series X/S | PS4 | Xbox One | PC
What is it? The sequel to 2017’s under-the-radar action/RPG, which mixed sci-fi and old-school fantasy into an open-world Skyrim-like adventure. While it was an interesting foray into the genre, it was a little rough around the edges.
Is it any good? There’s no doubt that the follow-up has expanded upon many of the things the first Elex set out to do. The world itself is larger and impressively detailed, the character models have seen a notable upgrade, and the story is told in a far more comprehensive way. A huge differentiator with Elex 2 is also the ability to use thrusters to boost around the environment, so you’re not stuck clumping around the entire world.
With that said, the combat itself is a little clumsy. Swinging melee weapons feels ineffective and the timing of the animations does seem a little sluggish. Enemy AI is also wildly contrasting, with some being incredibly ineffective and some having a bloodlust with murderous efficiency. There’s no doubt that Elex 2 has something other RPGs don’t, but just the unpolished nature of it makes it a hard sell in a market full of great games in the genre. If you’re looking for something completely different and have burned through what’s out there, it’s worth a discounted purchase.
Assetto Corsa Competizione – Next-Gen Edition
Available on: PS5 | Xbox Series X/S | PC
What is it? While a lot of buzz floats around the Gran Turismo and Forza franchises, another lesser-known racer is making a name for itself Assetto Corsa Competizione was originally released in 2019 and was a fantastic entry into the racing sim genre, bringing something a little different from what we’re used to. The next-gen upgrade is here, bringing some spiffy visual enhancements and in-game items.
Is it any good? Assetto Corsa Competizione hasn’t changed too much with its jump to the PS5 and Xbox Series X. You’re still getting essentially the same good-looking racer, although with some notable improvements in lighting and finer details. However, that isn’t a bad thing, because it’s one of the best and most underappreciated racing sims on the market. The action itself is sublime, and managing everything on your car — from the tyres to your pit team — is incredibly satisfying and immersive. It still isn’t the most newcomer-friendly game out there, leaning more towards the ‘learn-fast-or-lose’ approach, but petrol-heads who put the time in will be pleasantly surprised with what Assetto Corsa Competizione brings to the table.
King of Fighters XV
Available on: PS5 | Xbox Series X/S | PS4 | Xbox One | PC
What is it? The 15th primary instalment in the beloved 2D fighting franchise, bringing some new fighters, mechanics, and a whole new look to the series.
Is it any good? King of Fighters XV isn’t a colossal overhaul as anticipated, but it does so a lot to enhance the graphics and presentation from past instalments. It looks good and moves well, with new camera angles and a colourful cell-shaded art style to make fights pop on screen. Mechanically, it does some interesting things, forcing players to use a built-up ‘Max meter’ to either attack or break an enemy’s block. On top of that, its 3v3 fighting structure is an interesting twist that fans of the genre will enjoy, giving you more and more opportunities to try different characters and find the best balance for your picks.
There’s no real memorable single-player component to highlights, with the story mode only lasting an hour or so, but if you have friends to fight and want to take your bouts online, King of Fighters XV does provide you with something other than brutal Fatalities and Hadoukens.
Horizon: Forbidden West Review — The Best Playstation Game to Date?
Does Horizon’s sequel live up to the hype? Check out our review to find out.
Horizon: Forbidden West is massive, jaw-droppingly gorgeous, challenging, and a massive step up from the previous game. Its hunting, combat, and exploration mechanics have all been refined, and an added dose of cinematic quality to the story moments makes Forbidden West one of the best games you can play on the Playstation platform.
The sequel is a testament to developer Guerilla Games on their ability to take something that already exceeded expectations with Horizon: Zero Dawn, and expand on it in interesting and clever ways. Forbidden West includes the already-impressive breadth of gameplay elements, and adds in a gliding tool, new weapons, a massive skill tree, new enemies, and a vastly bigger world. And thinking that the upscaling in scope would cause some cracks in the presentation would be foolish, as everything looks even better and more detailed than it did in the first game.
Visually, the game is stunning, with colourful vistas, volumetric light pouring in through broken structures, gorgeously-realised character models, and intriguing robotic enemies that move, steam, and operate in their own ways. The voice acting is top-notch and matches this attention to detail too, bringing in a captivating second chapter of the story, which picks up 6 months after the events of the first game.
The red-headed heroine Aloy is now battle-hardened and dead set on ending the malevolent AI Hades and restarting GAIA, a terraforming and planet-management system, in order to ‘reboot’ Earth, so to speak. The overall plot has a lot of weight to it, with an ever-present threat of failure, and the stubborn and often neglectful side of Aloy comes through, which creates an interesting micro-character arc amongst the whole world-ending fiasco at hand.
However, there are some bugbears. There’s no denying that, on top of a camera which can be tricky in tight spaces, you may find yourself a little discombobulated with the complex controls and menus, especially during combat. Holding down triggers, moving wheels, cycling with the D-pad – a whole bunch of inputs are required during intense fights, and it becomes increasingly overwhelming when the difficulty ramps up. Like memorising a run or set of tricks in a Tony Hawk Pro Skater game, Forbidden West asks you to do some serious preparation and memorisation before taking on bigger tasks.
That said, Forbidden West does so much right that it leaves a lot of room for hiccups. The sequel is a bigger, better, and more ambitious game that nails just about everything it sets out to do. If you love open-world adventures with ferotious and challenging combat mixed in with some puzzles, jaw-dropping visuals, and a gripping post-apocalyptic story, you don’t need to think twice about picking up Horizon: Forbidden West.
Horizon: Forbidden West is available on PS5 and PS4.