Whether it’s the Horizon series fighting for the crown of best arcade racer, or the Motorsport series vying for best simulation racer, there is always something to shout about when it comes to Forza. For many years now, Forza has been a top competitor in the racing genre, but it wasn’t until the arrival of Forza 3 that the series really made a booming statement of intent to bring the ultimate realism to our living room screens.
When it was time for Forza 5 to rock on up to the track, we were just entering the third generation of Xbox consoles, and to show off all that extra horsepower that would come inside the Xbox One, they wanted a flagship title that could truly showcase just what miracles the next generation could perform. And what better title than Microsoft’s beloved racer!
When it first arrived, Forza Motorsport 5 arrived to a mixed reception. There was no denying that the shiny new hardware enabled it to be the best-looking Forza title yet, and there was no denying that racing felt incredible, especially when you saw your friends’ Drivatars lining up alongside you on race day. The negative press didn’t have anything to do with how the game played, the issue was instead focused on the lack of content when compared to its predecessor. Unlike Forza Motorsport 4 and its 500 cars and 26 circuits, Forza Motorsport 5 launched with just a measly 14 tracks and 200 high-speed machines; a pretty poor comparison I’m sure you’ll agree, especially for the next step in the flagship series.
With such a drop in content, the rumours quickly began to circulate, and the developers quickly tried to ease the angered masses. They pointed towards the first-time appearances for open-wheeled racers in the series, with the Lotus E21 a shining example, and they pointed towards the new Forza Vista that allowed a much closer look at many of the elegantly recreated cars. They didn’t stop there either, alluding to the force feedback that had felt like it was the sheer aggression and power of the car coming flowing through each of the triggers as you tore it up around tracks that included Bathurst and Spa amongst the ranks, whilst also bringing up the incredible new graphics engine that just lit up the curves on the latest high-speed beasts such as the McLaren P1.
Whilst some debated whether it could be forgiven for having such a vast loss of content compared to its predecessor though, Turn 10 were already slugging it out in the office to bring even more amazing content to Forza Motorsport 5. As with previous entries, we already knew new cars would be arriving, and with each month came more and more new arrivals, with the Forza 5 Car Pass bringing players 80 new cars, as well as free DLC packs to bulk things out further still.
Another huge appearance came in the form of the Top Gear faithful – at the time at least – with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May all providing their expert opinions through in-game commentary on various events, cars, and so on, delivering both humorous opinions and stone-cold facts.
For those petrol heads who were wanting to get stuck in for hours on end with the glorious looking rides, Forza 5 delivered there too and after booting up the game’s Career mode, you were quickly greeted with a screen showcasing 40 different leagues, and hundreds upon hundreds of races for players to complete. These range from the Sport Compact Leagues that included the likes of the Renault Clio V6 all the way through the Exotic series and the Hypercars, Supercars and Grand Tourers that it brought with it, and on further still through to Vintage, GT and even Prototype machines.
Of course, with it handling quite so fantastically, and looking quite so incredible, Forza Motorsport 5 was always going to be up for some type of Game of the Year award and with many voting it the Racing Game of the Year, it only took seven months after the initial release before Forza Motorsport 5 Racing Game of the Year Edition became a reality. But what did it bring to the track that we hadn’t already seen? Was it really worth it? – In short, no, as it only really bundled with it a couple of DLC packs whilst charging players a full retail price once more despite the standard version having hit sale price on numerous occasions by the time the GOTY had released, but for those who had yet to jump in, it was a great reminder to jump aboard and experience chasing down The Stig in a 1v1 event through the iconic Top Gear Test Track!
The final standout point for Forza Motorsport 5 was the musical score that is found emanating across the game menus from the moment you first arrive in the glossy-floored garage at the main menu. The classical score is a fine choice when it comes to showcasing art and with each car presented as a beautifully crafted machinery as the camera slowly pans around, it’s hard to argue that you didn’t feel a slight buzz the moment you booted the game up – even if it did start to wear thin after a few hours.
Since the arrival of Forza Motorsport 5, we have of course had two more mainline entries in the Motorsport series, with both Forza 6 and Forza 7 now available on Xbox One along with Forza Horizon 2, 3 and 4, but whilst each entry seems to prove better than the last, Forza Motorsport 5 certainly did a fine job of ushering in a new breed of racing excellence on it’s arrival. Sure, we probably didn’t need the little extras for such a large price hike when the Game of the Year Edition rolled around, but let’s be honest, if you’re getting Game of the Year awards, you’re going to flaunt it aren’t you!
Overall and five years on from the Forza Motorsport 5 Racing Game of the Year Edition, we can still look back fondly and remember what a fantastic racer it was and still remains to this day. Whilst the multiplayer community have long gone, the single player racing is still as sharp as you remember it and if you’re ever looking for a nostalgic trip, especially with the Xbox One era coming to an end, it wouldn’t hurt to look back at where it all began – with the King of Racing on Xbox One.