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Forza Horizon 5 Review — Petrolhead Paradise?

Has Playground Games perfected the Forza Horizon formula?

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.

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