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    dkirschner's Forza Horizon 5 (PC)

    [January 15, 2022 12:15:31 PM]
    Never played a Forza game before, but this popped up on Game Pass and I do enjoy a good racing game. This is the best one I've played since whatever the last Burnout game was (because really I like crashing more than racing). I tried Wreckfest over the summer, but it wore thin quickly. Forza 5 is absolutely packed with stuff to do. I was never bored and there are still probably 100 new races and other events that I didn't do. I considered the game "beat" after completing all of the Horizon events and stories, which took me roughly a day of play time. My time also included doing a good amount of additional races early on (because I thought I needed the points to unlock new Horizon events, but really, you'll earn enough points to unlock everything just by doing the Horizon events themselves), as well as other exploration-based activities like searching for barn finds (which reward you with classic cars) and smashable boards (which reward you with XP and eventually fast travel, although I ended up unlocking fast travel by purchasing a specific villa later in the game instead of by smashing all the fast travel boards).

    Forza is also the most realistic racing game I've played (recalling Gran Turismo games on Playstation). Not only did they license hundreds and hundreds of real cars, but you can tune them to minute detail (it's not a sim, but for an arcade racer, it's realistic). Of course, I know nothing about tuning cars and never touched that part of the customization, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

    The game takes place in a slice of Mexico (real? fake? composite of real places?). Apparently in each game there is a Horizon Festival somewhere in the world. The Mexican setting was really cool because they included a lot of culture. A lot of the characters are Mexican and will use Spanish mixed in throughout their accented English. I had subtitles on so I could read the Spanish and love that the game is bold enough to make it so that English-speaking players get a dose of not having a game revolve around US locations and the English language. I always enjoyed driving around through the ruins (again, not sure if these are real places or not, but it seemed like the developers did their homework) and the rolling farmland. Two other progressive things the game did was let you choose pronouns and let you customize your character with prosthetic limbs. I chose they/them and had a fake leg.

    Forza 5 features different race types. There is road racing, city street racing, stunt driving, off-road racing...and one more I can't remember. Head-to-head? Each of the festival events features a race type and has several stories associated. For example, in the big stunt driving story, you are a stunt driver for a movie and have to do all these different scenes. The director doesn't know that you aren't the actual actor (who is supposed to be doing his own stunts), and the story is you and the actor working together to "fake" him doing all the work, which becomes increasingly difficult as your stunts become so impressive and draw the director's increasing admiration and attention. In the head-to-head racing, which I did last, there is a rich kids' racing club that has some beef with a Horizon street racer. You race members of the rich kids' club one by one, unraveling the history of the beef between a couple characters, and it wound up being a very feel-good story. In another memorable one, a character is restoring her uncle's VW Beetle, following all his old plans for modifications, and you have to test out everything she's doing to it. This is all in the memory of her uncle, and there are nice themes of family and tradition in it. The stories are all kind of simple and sweet and fun, a nice change of pace from so many games that always have to tell some dark story with a lot of conflict (of course, I don't know why I would expect a racing game to have a dark story; Twisted Metal though...).

    Another thing I enjoyed is the difficulty. There are a lot of difficulty levels, and the game will suggest if you should change. I started on "Average" and quickly began winning everything, so it suggested I move to "Above Average." I did that and eventually was winning everything again. I moved to "Hard." That was a bit much, as I was constantly finishing behind a string of cars that were racing just so perfectly. I think if I'd stuck with it, like by the end of the game, I could have been winning some on Hard, but you usually get bonus rewards for finishing first, so I stuck with Above Average to keep my rewards. I was winning probably 80% of races.

    I think, though, that the AI is set up well to give you the illusion of more of a challenge than you are actually facing. This is often how a race will go: You begin and a small pack of cars takes off and controls a big lead. As the race goes on, you slowly catch them. Everyone behind you stays pretty close to you, too. You're never obliterating anyone; they catch up to the lead pack just like you do. Then toward the end of the race, you'll notice (especially if you're messing up, you notice) that they slow enough for you to catch them. Often, especially on more set piece races with straightaways on the end (a couple action-packed ones where you race monster trucks and jet skis and a train come to mind), you'll zip past them JUST at the finish line. This has to be staged! I mean, if you're racing on Hard and aren't very good, it's not going to let you win like that, but if your skill approximates the difficulty level, then that difficulty level often seems perfect. I kind of want to play more just to figure out exactly how it works.

    I would definitely pick this back up and play for fun, but the semester is starting, my free time is quickly evaporating, and I've still got too many Game Pass games to play before my trial expires. It'll be here forever, so maybe next time I'll check out what's new!
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    dkirschner's Forza Horizon 5 (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 31 December, 2021

    GameLog closed on: Tuesday 11 January, 2022

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    I think it's awesome so far (but I was drunk). -------- It's still awesome sober.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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