Mount Panorama is a treacherous circuit, but at the crest of its dizzying 174-meter climb is a view of the Australian countryside so gorgeous that for a few fleeting moments all that exists is you and the howl of a roaring engine. Moments like this are what make Forza Motorsport 5 so special. This is a game that expertly captures the bond between car and driver, improving on a world-class racing simulation with just as much human touch as technical wizardry.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in Forza 5’s redesigned career mode, where the hosts of Top Gearserve as entertaining guides through all manner of automotive styles and eras. It’s a format made up of dozens of mini-campaigns, each focused on a specific class of vehicle, ranging from vintage touring legends to hot hatches to modern hypercars. It’s a much more a la carte approach than previous Forza games: each series is unlocked from the start, lasting between one and two hours each. You’re given the freedom to progress through these themed categories in any order you wish, the only limit to what you drive next being the number of credits in your virtual bank account.
With this approach comes the freedom to navigate your own pathway through the history of motorsport, but with an overarching progression of credits and RPG-style leveling that encourages you to continually poke through Forza 5’s eclectic selection of vehicles. It’s a career mode made even better by an expanded Top Gear partnership that takes the form of narrated voice-overs preceding each series. Whether they’re playfully mocking the third generation of Ford Mustangs or recounting the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula One season, Clarkson, Hammond, and May shine as automotive historians. Their entertaining yet informative prologues lend both context and humor to every category of car you choose to spend time with.