Forza Horizon 5 Review: Mexican Magic

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Forza Horizon 5 is one of the most anticipated titles of 2021. The Xbox exclusive racer takes open-world exploration, Top Gear style car vs machine Showcases, and arcade racing and blends it all together.

After the success of Forza Horizon 4, can Playground Games lift the franchise to another level? Or will the new game feel like a re-skin of FH4?

It's time for a Forza Horizon 5 review!

Viva la festival!

Let's start with the location. Playground Games took the task of locating the festival very seriously. This isn't the Mexico stereotype of Hollywood, instead it is a thrilling and diverse landscape that brings aspects of local culture into the game without overstating things.

From Mexican music blending into the radio stations to poking at Lucha Libre wrestling, it's a symapthetic and authentic Mexican vibe for players to enjoy.

So if the location delivers, what about the gameplay?

Racing ahead

The single-player campaign delivers much of the early fun, with the player delivering a range of cas to the main festival site before going exploring to find some expansion sites.

This sees you jump into Showcase events, such as racing against jetskis, to publicise the festival.

Forza Horizon 5 review Showcase event
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The Playground team came up with new and spectacular races for the Showcases

Racing feels much better in this title than FH4. Grip physics has been greatly improved, which makes surface differences really stand out. The environment you are racing on now greatly impacts your ability to precisely position your car, especially if you haven't tuned it appropriately.

That is much better this year too, as the range of after-market parts is much wider than before. With a bigger choice of tyres you can set a supercar up for off-roading and tune some true monsters out of cheaper base cars.

All that being said, racing isn't quite the joy we want it to be. Street Scene races feel oddly empty for a supposed street race, while there are definitely instances where wall riding feels much faster than taking corners properly.

What about the cars?

With more than 500 cars at launch, there are rides to suit every style in Forza Horizon 5.

The one that steals the Mercedes-AMG ONE, the cover car of FH5. With it's ability to switch between road and track modes, you can lower the car, raise the rear wing, and open up flaps that make the car feel alive and truly aggressive.

Forza Horizon 5 review Mercedes-AMG ONE
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The amazing Mercedes-AMG ONE

That change also impacts performance, with the low-drag road setting being consistently 10mph faster than the track version.

Again there are 14 barn finds for players to unlock and earn some free cars. These encourage map exploration and can be pretty tricky to reach so if you are going barn hunting be sure to select a good off-roader!


Forza Horizon 5 is a superb game. It's the Horizon series at its best, with call-backs and references to previous mechanics that have worked, while stripping back things that haven't.

It's a wildly playable game. We've spent hours just exploring the landscape and hitting races around the map. When mutliplayer kicks off with the full release it should be even better.


For Game Pass subscribers this is an easy must-install title. Even for those that don't usually go for racing titles you've got to try Forza Horizon 5. It's graphically stunning on the Xbox Series X, and a world you'll love to spend time in.

RealSport Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on Xbox Series X.

For in-depth Forza Horizon 5 coverage & guides be sure to check out our sister site RacingGames.GG!

For more articles like this, take a look at our More and Reviews page.