Much like how the film world celebrates the best it has to offer each year with the Oscars, the video game industry has a similar event with the Game Awards ceremony. Each year narrows down the absolute cream of the crop of what was offered over the last several months, signifying each game's strengths and ultimately choosing one overall winner. Numerous excellent titles have released in 2021 across a multitude of genres, so there was no shortage of options to choose from for the Game Awards nominations. One of the most highly rated games of the year was Forza Horizon 5, a recent release that was just as successful as any other major 2021 release.
With the smash hit sales numbers for Forza Horizon 5, as well as its immensely positive reception, it seemed like a done deal that the latest in the beloved racing sim would be a no-brainer for the final shortlist of Game of the Year nominees. However, just a few days ago when this list was announced, to many gamers' surprise, Forza Horizon 5 was nowhere to be seen on the shortlist of Game of the Year nominations. The title is being recognized in other categories, but the game not being at least considered for the top prize feels like a huge snub and has left many scratching their heads.
Breaking Down the GOTY Nominees
To be clear, pointing out the absence of Forza Horizon 5 from the shortlist of nominations is not to discredit any of those other titles of being worthy enough to make the cut. Each game brought something unique and engaging to the table, helping it stand out from a crowded market of stellar content this year. Deathloop's roguelike mechanics proved to be a fun hook to keep players immersed in its world for hours on end. It Takes Two also provided players with a charming and effective spin on how co-operative gameplay can work.
However, this is exactly the issue and most puzzling aspect of why Forza Horizon 5 isn't present in the category for Game of the Year. Each of these games excels in particular areas, as they have also received nominations for specific categories to highlight this as well. For example, Deathloop's storyline has also earned it nominations in Best Direction and Best Narrative. Meanwhile, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart's outstanding technical prowess has snagged spots on lists for Best Art Direction.
Bearing this logic in mind, the overall Game of the Year recognizes games that have excelled in numerous ways, ticked off all the right boxes, and resulted in one complete and excellent package. If games are the sum of their parts, then Forza Horizon 5 has proven to be a complete package as well, evident by how it's been recognized for its technical achievements, earning a nomination for Best Audio Design as well as Best Sports/Racing Game.
Forza Horizon 5: The Complete Package
Speaking of acquiring nominations in different categories, Forza Horizon 5 actually does a great job of being a complete package for racing enthusiasts and gamers in general. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart nails being a solid singleplayer experience, meanwhile It Takes Two is an enjoyable multiplayer romp. Forza Horizon 5 actually manages to nail both of these elements and so much more, providing a near limitless level of content for players to enjoy.
The game is designed in a way that is extremely accessible to every kind of player, so it can be enjoyed at any particular pace. The absolutely massive open world is littered with activities and things to discover, but at the same time, Forza Horizon 5 has a laundry list of dedicated multiplayer modes, with various customization options and challenges. Speaking of customization, a racing game is nothing without its cars, and Forza Horizon 5 is packed with vehicles that can be fine tuned and modified to match each player's exact liking.
This is without even mentioning the absolutely outstanding graphical achievements within the game. Forza Horizon 5 makes great use of the next-gen hardware at hand to deliver some jaw dropping visual fidelity, arguably unmatched by anything else on the market right now. The weather system in the game also deserves a gold star, in which players can actively see a thunderstorm brooding in the distance, as it approaches in real time.
Looking At The Review Numbers
If this award snub is to be broken down in even more nitpicky, meticulous detail, then looking at the breakdown of review score numbers is in order. All of these games are subject to criticism and review, both objectively and subjectively. All of the games that made the shortlist for the award of overall Game of the Year reviewed well, but when broken down side-by-side with each game's overall review scores, the results are a bit surprising.
For starters, Forza Horizon 5 wasn't even nominated at all, despite a whopping 92% overall average on review site aggregator Metacritic. This is a massively impressive number for any piece of entertainment to hit, video game, movie, or otherwise. By comparison, Metroid Dread and Deathloop, the two games some feel will duke it out in the end for top spot, have both scored an 88%. This is still a respectable average and both games are fantastic, but numbers don't lie, and it all adds up to a confusing conundrum for why Forza Horizon 5 didn't make the final list.
Forza Horizon 5 is available on Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One, Windows, and Steam.
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