A magnificent centerpiece for the Xbox Series X

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While the Xbox Series X has been available for almost a year now, there are very few exclusives that have really pushed the graphics capabilities of the system. The drift just before the console’s first anniversary is Forza Horizon 5, the latest entry in the Playground Games series. This time around, the developer decided to bring the Horizon Festival to Mexico, as the country has a number of diverse regions with very different weather conditions and terrain. It turned out to be a wise move, as it helped Playground deliver the best looking Xbox Series X game yet.

Graphics are certainly not everything, but when players buy new gear, they want to see what it can do. Forza Horizon 5 works as a great centerpiece for the Xbox Series X console, delivering so much that made my jaw drop. From the way the city of Guanajuato is illuminated at night by the glow of magma atop the volcano, the graphics really bring this world to life. The towns, deserts, and beaches in the game are all beautiful. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to imagine that some players will want to visit Mexico on their own after playing this game.

Speaking of Mexico, Forza Horizon 5The card is huge (50% larger than its predecessor, according to Xbox). There is so much to see and do, but it never feels intimidating. In fact, it’s extremely easy to plot a course where you want to go and follow that path from one end of the map to the other. Of course, it’s easy to get distracted. Often times I would find myself traveling a huge distance to witness a race, only to help explore a dust storm along the way, or to discover the aforementioned volcano. The variety is great, and it is much easier to spend several hours with Forza Horizon 5 without getting bored.

While the game looks great, it also plays really well. Granted, I’m a newcomer to the Forza series, and it took me a little while to find my bearings. Learning to perfect the turns of the game without skidding gave me a lot of trouble; I’ve seen “7/12” on my screen so many times I assumed the developers knew about my birthday. However, even when I was ranking low after each race, the game still rewarded me with experience, and that kept me going to keep finding ways to improve myself. Sometimes the game would ask me if I wanted to lower the difficulty, but I chose to stay where I started. A small twist is the rewind feature, which allows players to quickly undo a mistake (or a few) by pressing the “Y” button. I tried not to lean on it myself, but it was nice to see how Playground Games found all these different ways to do it. Forza Horizon 5 accessible to those who know less about the series.

Longtime fans and newcomers should also be happy with the amount of customization options available. There are many ways for players to adjust the experience to their liking, from in-game controls to the player character. The game even offers players the option to give their avatar prosthetic limbs, which seems like a great way to make the experience more inclusive.

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Forza Horizon 5The music is also quite loud. There are a handful of radio stations to choose from, and they’ve been designed to replicate the Sirius XM listening experience. There are plenty of great tracks that fit the racing theme perfectly, and players will have plenty on their minds long after the game has been shut down. On a personal level, I was delighted to hear the Arkells while driving, and it’s surreal to see them go from a band I couldn’t find on iTunes ten years ago, to one appearing in a AAA video game.

It’s hard to find a lot of negatives to say about Forza Horizon 5. The gameplay is fun and varied, the music is solid, there are tons of cars to unlock and it’s absolutely beautiful to watch. The whole is really breathtaking. Playground Games have found so many ways to bring Mexico to life, taking full advantage of the region’s diversity, while pushing Xbox Series X hardware to its limits. If you own the console, you owe it to yourself to check Forza Horizon 5whether it’s buying a copy of the game or playing it through Xbox Game Pass. It is perhaps one of the best centerpieces of the next gen era to date.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Forza Horizon 5 releases November 9 for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X | S. Code has been provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and it has been reviewed on an Xbox Series X.

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