Friday, December 3

‘Forza Horizon 5’: An Avalanche of Exquisite Details Shapes One of the Greatest Driving Arcade Ever

All players (or simply, those interested in the latest trends in digital representation, it does not matter if we are talking about video games, special effects from the latest Marvel blockbuster or mere simulation by artificial intelligence) they know that we have reached a certain limit in the representation of realistic environments on screen. There is still a long way to go in terms of expressiveness and naturalness of movements for human characters, but in terms of vehicles and settings, it is difficult to go much further than ‘Forza Horizon 5’.

The new installment in Microsoft’s driving saga, however, It hasn’t made a quantum leap since its fourth installment, which we saw on Xbox One in 2018. We are, visually, before a very similar game. Or at least, that’s the feeling until we get to the controls of the vehicles and subtleties begin to emerge in the control, in the effects, in the game mechanics themselves.

Because this is how video games are technically made to evolve in times of hyper-realism: attending to the details, which is where we approach a simulation as sophisticated as possible. And in that sense, Microsoft and Playground Games surpass themselves in aspects such as the vibration of the controller, which although it does not have the capacity and possibilities of the Dualsense de Playstation 5, shows that in terms of immersion and possibilities when it comes to transmitting different textures, territories and impacts on vehicles, from the wind to the sandstone, through skids or off the asphalt, the Xbox controller responds perfectly.

Visually, as much of the same: there is little to add to the sensational replicas of the vehicles and themes like the drawing distance or the feeling of speed. But at Playground Games they continue to strive to infinitesimally improve the effects of particles, the impact of rain and water on the camera and driving … even the dust clouds have been improved in a delivery where there is an abundance of deserts and areas with sand, that is to say, pure festivals of particles.

But of course, this festival of details in favor of realism has its dark side: ‘Forza Horizon 5’ put the arcade aside to focus on the simulation. The races are less festive and more demanding: Until you get used to skidding and not stepping all the time, you will see how your car crashes and crashes, destroying trees, medians and protective barriers. Luckily in Mexico they have good cement, or the first games you would have the feeling of piloting a wrecking ball on wheels.

We are not facing a ‘Gran Turismo’, in any case. The balance between demanding driving and mindless spectacle is quite achieved, and to the casual tone of the game and many of its challenges is added the large number of unforgettable moments, closer to ‘Fast & Furious’ than to a game concerned that the sound of the engines is perfect: there are ramps to fly to the camera slow motion, absurd falls into the void, competitions with other types of vehicles -big and small- and scenarios that do, replicate a realistic Mexico like never before, but also a mythical, colorful and impossible Mexico, where there are racetracks that cross Aztec pyramids.

To glory for excess

That the game is slightly reoriented to simulation does not prevent ‘Forza Horizon 5’ from reaching its best findings through more and better. That same accumulation of details that turn each game into an avalanche of technical tics that leaves players speechless They extend to the rest of the elements of the game, from the variety of scenarios to the width of the garage– Drive a Warthog through an Aztec pyramid, as if the Master Chief were of Latin origin, and in the same game fool around with impossible routes around erupting volcanoes. There is nothing that ‘Forza Horizon 5’ determines what is too, and the need to see what will be next, always in balance between what is written and what is spontaneous, animates each game.

Because there are always things to do in ‘Forza Horizon 5’: there are challenges of all kinds (from winning races to reaching certain speeds) that unlock awards, which in turn, open new tests. Everything is deployed in the main campaign and its five stages, with the goal of reaching the Hall of FameOn the way, no less than two thousand awards to get, and five hundred cars to collect. And to this are added, of course, the online events -the Arcade Horizon and its group events or the Horizon Open, with races that acquire a championship format-.

This is not the place to fully analyze all the possibilities of ‘Forza Horizon 5’ (go to the splendid analyzes of our colleagues from VidaExtra and 3D Games to immerse yourself in the variety of options at your disposal), and we have much left in the pipeline. For example, the moderately disappointing Horizon Stories, the EventLab that allows us to create circuits, the almost infinite possibilities of avatar customization, vehicles and play styles. AND the icing (next to that final boss in the form of a half-hour race across the map): the 21 Expeditions that are pure spectacle and a source of iconic moments, like the confrontations with large vehicles that we have seen in other installments.

Some say that ‘Forza Horizon 5’ should rethink, at this point, its orientation. The saga has been giving us all kinds of races, modes and possibilities, and has practically run out of competitors in its unique style that mixes arcade and simulation. Is it time for a rethink? We’ll see, but for now, we have a few hundred circuits to unlock to build time.