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The fifth 'Forza Horizon' game is polished and then some

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Forza Motorsport was Microsoft’s answer to PlayStation’s prestigious racing game Gran Turismo, going all the way back to the original Xbox. It was a hardcore simulator, with many of the most famous tracks in the world to race on. And as pretty and accurate as it was, I didn’t much care for it. I preferred games like Criterion’s Burnout series, which provided a more arcadey and less rigid take on driving cars fast.

So when the team behind Forza Motorsport spun off their own game in that vein, Forza Horizon, in 2012, I took notice. It wasn’t terribly polished, but it kept the realistic driving control from the earlier Forza games while also having fun events and a large open world to discover.

The fifth Forza Horizon game released last week, and all that polish I wished for initially is there now, and then some. Like the previous games, this one takes place at a fictional music-slash-car festival called Horizon. The Horizon Festival moves around, and in Forza Horizon 5, it takes place in Mexico’s Baja California. Players can drive all around the map, including atop a volcano and alongside the beach, finding races, photo ops, jumps, and even barns with old cars to collect.

And there are a LOT of cars to collect. Over 500 of them, from a 1986 Ford Escort all the way to a brand-new McLaren GT. My favorite is a Porsche Taycan Turbo S. That’s a $200,000 car, and there’s no way I’ll ever find my way behind the wheel of one in real life.

And that’s probably my favorite thing about the game. Leave the racing and events aside, I just like speeding around, on highways and city streets, blasting the in-game radio, experiencing all sorts of cars I’ll never get to drive otherwise.

Samuel McConnell is a games enthusiast who has been playing games in one form or another since 1991. He was born in northern Maine but quickly transplanted to Wichita.