NLEX toll rates hike in effect today (May 12, 2022)

If you are planning to travel along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) very soon, you better adjust your travel-related budget as toll rates on the said highway have been raised effective today – May 12, 2022 – according to the details of a recent report published by GMA Network news based on the recent statement issued by the NLEX Corp.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the GMA Network news report. Some parts in boldface…

NLEX Corp., the operator of North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), on Tuesday announced it will increase its toll rates starting Thursday, May 12, 2022.

In a statement, NLEX Corp. said the Toll Regulatory Board gave the company the green light to hike its toll by P2.00 in the open system and P0.34 per kilometer in the closed system.

Under the adjusted toll rates, motorists traveling anywhere within the open system will pay an additional P2.00 for Class 1 vehicles (regular cars and SUVs), P6.00 for Class 2 vehicles (buses and small trucks), and P8.00 for Class 3 vehicles.

NLEX Corp. said the open system is from Balintawak, Caloocan City to Marilao, Bulacan while the closed system covers the portion between Bocaue, Bulacan and Sta. Ines, Mabalacat City, Pampanga including Subic-Tipo.

Meanwhile, those traveling the NLEX end-to-end between Metro Manila and Mabalacat City will pay an additional P27.00 for Class 1, P69.00 for Class 2 and P82.00 for Class 3 vehicles.

“To help cushion the impact of the toll increase, public utility jeepneys (PUJs) under the NLEX Passada and Tsuper Card discount and rebate program will continue to enjoy the old rates,” the company said.

“Provincial buses will also be covered by a graduated rebate scheme for a period of three months,” it added.

NLEX Corp. said the adjustments followed regulatory procedures and underwent thorough review.

The toll adjustment is also part of the approved periodic adjustments of NLEX due in 2016 and the completion of the new Subic Freeport Expressway (SFEX) in 2021.

Motorists have been enjoying safer and more comfortable journeys brought about by the new SFEX since it was partially opened in December 2020 and fully completed in February 2021. A total of 16.4 new lane kilometers, two new bridges in Jadjad and Argonaut, and a new tunnel were constructed for this infrastructure project,” the company said.

The tollway company said it spent P6.9 billion to complete several major projects and enhancements at NLEX-SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) since 2015 that “improved the region’s landscape, increased accessibility, enhanced safety and provided travel convenience to motorists.”

“To name a few, these include the expansion of San Fernando Interchange; the new toll lanes in Marilao, Bocaue, Tipo, Balintawak, Meycauayan, and Mindanao; the pavement upgrade at NLEX; the new exits in Meycauayan and Valenzuela and entry in Balagtas; the rehabilitation of bridges in Bigaa, Bocaue, and Meycauayan; and the improvement of drainages in Balintawak, Valenzuela, and Meycauayan; retrofitting of San Simon and Sta. Rita bridges,” it said.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Do you often travel along the NLEX? When was the last time you experienced a heavily congested trip along the NLEX?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

Have your driver’s license renewed at the LTO satellite branch inside SM Southmall

If you happen to be within Las Piñas City and you need to have your driver’s license renewed, you should check out the satellite branch of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) which opened inside SM Southmall recently, as featured in the Manila Bulletin. The said satellite branch was designed to be a one-stop processing center for those who need renewed licenses and there is even a clinic (recognized by the LTO) located just beside the place. Aside from license renewals, people can also apply for student permits there.

To put things in perspective, posted below are selected excerpts from the Manila Bulletin article. Some parts in boldface…

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) officially launched their satellite branch at SM Southmall’s Government Services Express (GSE) on March 24 to make drivers’ license renewals easier and more accessible to Southies.

Southies can now renew their licenses and apply for student permits in the mall, all while shopping and doing other errands. They just need to bring their medical certificates and existing licenses (for renewal).

Conveniently, Megacare, an LTO-approved clinic, is also located beside their satellite branch for a complete, one-stop shop experience.

LTO at SM Southmall is open from 8:00AM to 5:00PM excluding holidays and work suspensions declared by the government. The Driver’s License Renewal Center (DLRC) is located at the Government Services Express at the Lower Ground Level.

Everything is made more convenient for SM Southmall’s shoppers. Aside from LTO, Southies can make a day of their errands at the mall because GSE has other government service counters available like SSS, PHLPost, and GSIS Wireless Automated Processing System (GWAPS) kiosk.

Moreover, SM Business Centers offer PSA applications for birth, marriage, cenomar, and death certificates.

SM Bills Payment counters located in The SM Store and SM Supermarket accept payments for contributions and/or loans for SSS, Pag-IBIG, PhilHealth, National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation, and more.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Have you seen the LTO satellite branch inside SM Southmall already? If you did, what do you think about its facility? Does the place look clean and comfortable? Were there many people there?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Las Piñas City Government issues advisory about fake Friendship Route stickers and the scammers selling them

For those of you who heard about the recent developments about the Friendship Route stickers of the City of Las Piñas, be aware that the City Government declared that such stickers are absolutely NOT FOR SALE, as reported by the Manila Bulletin.

That being said, there are scammers who are selling illegal versions of the Friendship Route stickers to motorists who are eager to acquire them so that they can move better around the city. Those who engage in the selling fake Friendship Route stickers can get themselves into trouble according to city regulations. Clearly the only way for motorists to acquire legitimate Friendship Route stickers is through the City Government by means of applying online.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Manila Bulletin news report. Some parts in boldface…

The Las Pinas City government advised motorists, who are using public or private roads as alternative routes to ease or decongest traffic along the main thoroughfares in the city, not to deal with unscrupulous persons selling fake friendship route stickers.

The city government issued the advisory after a fake Las Pinas City government account was created, selling fake friendship stickers for P600 to P,1000.

The city government reiterated its call to motorists who wish to avail of a free friendship route sticker to visit the link bit.ly/LPCFriendshipStickerApp.

Persons caught selling fake friendship route stickers will be slapped with a fine of P3,000 to P5,000, according to city officials.

The city government issued on March 17 guidelines on how to apply for the friendship route stickers.

It said the vehicle’s official receipt (OR) and Certificate of Registration (CR) of the owner should be registered with Las Piñas address.

Las Pinas residents can still avail of the stickers even as their vehicle is not registered in the city by just showing driver’s license or any other documents that will prove that the applicant is a city resident.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: If you are a resident of Las Piñas City who still has yet to acquire a legitimate Friendship Route sticker from the City Government, have you applied already online? If you did, how was the experience of the online application? If you ever spot someone selling fake Friendship Route stickers, would you report them to the local authorities?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Applications for Las Piñas City’s Friendship Route vehicular stickers are being accepted online

If you are a resident of Las Piñas City who never had their Friendship Route vehicular sticker and you still want one, now is a good time to get your key documents and prepare yourselves for filing as the City Government recently announced it is accepting online applications for the Friendship Route stickers, the Manila Bulletin reported. Take note that a Google account is required for online application.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Manila Bulletin’s report. Some parts in boldface…

The Las Piñas City government announced that motorists who are using alternative routes to ease or decongest traffic along the main thoroughfares in the city can now apply for the friendship route stickers by visiting the link bit.ly/LPCFriendshipStickerApp

Mayor Imelda Aguilar said those who want to get the stickers must be residents of the city.

Aguilar said the stickers are not for sale and the city government has not come out with a new design or layout.

The stickers issued by the city government in 2011 up to succeeding years are still valid.

She said the online application is only for those who have not secured yet a friendship route sticker.

The city government issued on March 17 the guidelines on how to apply for the friendship route stickers.

The vehicle’s official receipt (OR) and Certificate of Registration (CR) of the owner should be registered with Las Piñas address.

Aguilar said residents can still avail of the stickers even as their vehicle is not registered in Las Piñas by just showing driver’s license or any other documents that will prove that the applicant is a city resident.

She said that those that are not qualified to apply for the stickers are public utility jeepneys, buses, taxis, school bus, delivery trucks and vans, tricycle and motorcycles, as well as vehicles stamped with “FOR HIRE” notation.

For everyone’s reference, posted below are the visual guidelines (note: written in Tagalog) of March 17 that the City Government published via social media…

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: If you are  a resident of Las Piñas City, what is your reaction to this recent development? If you have not secured a Friendship Route sticker, do you plan to apply for one soon? Does the current traffic situation in the city compel you to pass through villages when driving?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Muntinlupa City: Motorists with open pipe mufflers, modifications will be apprehended

Ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebration, the City Government of Muntinlupa warns motorists that altered tailpipes emitting loud sound are prohibited in the city.

The Muntinlupa Traffic and Management Bureau (MTMB) has announced that those who will use aftermarket mufflers, or removal of such, which emit excessive loud noise and cause disturbances in the holiday season will be apprehended.

“Mahigpit na ipinagbabawal ang paggamit ng Open Pipe Mufflers at iba pang modipikasyon sa Lungsod ng Muntinlupa. Ito ay nakapaloob sa ating ordinansa 04-022 o mas kilala bilang Muntinlupa Traffic Code, Art. III Sec. 9,” the MTMB posted in its Facebook page.

Under City Ordinance 04-22, “no private person shall use sirens, bells, horns, whistles or similar gadgets that emit exceptionally loud or startling sounds.” Violators will be fined with 2,500 pesos.

To report violations, the public may coordinate with the following offices: MTMB (8831-9884), PNP Muntinlupa (8862-2611), and BFP Muntinlupa (8842-2201).

Further, the City Government reminds the public of the on-going ban on firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices.

Under City Ordinance No. 14-092 the display and distribution of firecrackers in Muntinlupa is prohibited as part of the local initiative to reduce casualties and harmful effects of pyrotechnic devices to public health and the environment.

Apprehended individuals using firecrackers will be fined with P1,000 up to P5,000. While commercial establishments selling firecrackers may face revocation of permit and license to operate in pursuant to penalties provided in the ordinance.

Since the implementation of the firecracker ban, the City Health Office has recorded a significant decrease in firecracker-related injuries and casualties.

Mayor Jaime Fresnedi urges residents to use alternative noise-making instruments and not to patronize firecrackers and open-pipe mufflers. The local exec encouraged Muntinlupa residents to safely celebrate the holidays especially with the threat of the Omicron variant.

As of December 15, Muntinlupa City has 13 active cases, 27,596 confirmed cases with 27,004 recoveries, 579 reported deaths, 15 suspect cases, and 259 probable cases.

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The above information was sourced from an official press release. Some parts were changed for this website.

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  HavenorFantasy@twitter.com as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Forza Horizon 5 is a super-charged, fun-filled game that must be played!

Ever since I started subscribing to Xbox Game Pass (XGP), I’ve been playing the universally acclaimed Forza Horizon 5 a lot on my Xbox Series X and as of this writing, it is my most played game. Why? Because each time I play it, Forza Horizon 5 keeps on offering me a lot of opportunities to have fun from joining races, touring the fictionalized Mexico setting to taking part in very interesting, tourism-inspired missions/quests.

My name on the plate license.
Out in the open!
I made it in the Hall of Fame!

What I can confirm to you all is that this Xbox-exclusive open-world racing game made by Playground Games consistently delivered a lot of enjoyable stuff for me to discover and experience while also respecting my freedom of choice as to where can I go, what races should I compete in, what places can be discovered and a whole lot more! Very clearly the developers made the game with entertainment in mind and given the exceptional game design concept of the Forza Horizon series as a whole, they delivered a very unique car-oriented video game that keeps on moving into uncharted territories that most other racing games have not achieved.

Forza Horizon 5 is not your typical racing game. It has a fictionalized Mexico as the massive in-game world that is waiting for players to discover complete with the distinct environmental features, architectures, and ancient structures that reflect the nation’s rich culture.

At the Horizon Mexico site.
Speeding along the bridge!
That is the volcano!

There are also a whole of races or competitions for you to choose from. If you love racing at high speed on roads, there’s a lot of them. You love off-road racing and are willing to test your ability to drive over mud, sand, dirt or over some vegetation? Lots of those races are available! If you are looking for unusual challengers to compete with, there are special races in which you get to test your skill and might against a speeding train or an airplane or jet skiers! Not only that, there are also these very enduring special races that are over 30 miles long and I personally love the endurance test while performing my best against all the competitors which make the crossing the finish line a very satisfying experience!

Like its predecessors, Forza Horizon 5 is also rich with customization of your cars and even your in-game avatar (who has a voice and lots of lines to speak with). The cars you have can be customized at a Horizon outpost or in your in-game home, and you will have options with regards to vehicular paint, designs and car parts. Not only that, you can also upgrade the car parts and make your car more powerful and move to a higher rating.

A nice place to enjoy the view!
This is a very intense race!
The in-game sky and clouds have that photo-realistic touch.

When it comes to customizing your avatar, you can choose from several pre-designed human models and then adjust the hair style, hair color, prosthetics (note: if you really want this), physical expressions and most notable of all, you will have lots of options on your avatar’s shoes and clothes (shirts, jackets, trousers, skirts and dresses plus hats and eyewear to name some).

Going back into the Forza Horizon 5’s digital Mexico, there will also be some nicely designed places that you can purchase as your avatar’s home and each one is strategically located in different areas that reflect the local look and culture. As of this writing, I already purchased 6 homes, including two each with a 7-figure price tag.

One of my six homes as of this writing.
My newest home that cost 2,000,000 in in-game currency.
If you really want to earn more in-game money, you’ve got win and level-up a lot!

As of my last Forza Horizon 5 session, my car collection is still less than a hundred and already I sent out about ten cars as gifts (note: the barns) for a variety of gamers who play the game. As I was focused on raising money to buy all the homes in the game, my purchasing of new cars has been slow and this only motivates me to keep on joining races, raise as much money from each race and also relying on random winnings from the spin-a-prize sequences. I checked the in-game car shop and I am very impressed with the wide selection of hundreds of cars offered by many vehicular manufacturers from around the world. I like the Porsche cars that made it into the game!

When it comes to gameplay variety, gamers will not only have lots of races to join in, there are also these varied, driving-oriented quests that each have their own story concept and characters who will interact with your avatar. These quests include helping out in stunt car sequences for a movie production, helping a scientist with finding date in key locations, etc. Not only that, there are also these barns to find that each have the remains of an old vehicle that could be restored to working condition. And then there are these timed, limited events/activities you can join in.

A great view of only a portion of the game’s fictionalized Mexico.
A short clip from one of the special activities I took part in.
This Porsche is fast and highly responsive in terms of control! It’s worth spending money on!

I’ve played Forza Horizon 5 for a little over 15 hours now and I can only speculate that there are still a lot more to discover within the game by default. Combine all of those with the seasonal or special events/activities, there is always something new to do and discover in the game!

With Halo Infinite launching in a few more days, I’ve got to play more of Forza Horizon 5 because if the sci-fi shooter is as great and as immersive as what the YouTubers (who had access to 10 hours of the single player campaign) then that would most likely be my regular game to play on Xbox Series X.

As I have yet to complete Forza Horizon 5 as of now, this piece I am writing is NOT a game review but rather my opinion piece based on what I experienced with the game so far. What I can declare is this: if you love cars, exploring, adventuring, good music and if you want the best enjoyment available on Xbox Series X right now, then Forza Horizon 5 is a must-have and must-play game! Forza Horizon 5 is truly a very great game loaded with lots of fun stuff to keep any gamer busy and happy!

I love playing Forza Horizon 5 on my Xbox Series X!

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

COVID-19 Crisis: Metro Manila number coding returns specifically covering evening rush hours

For those who drive daily in or through Metro Manila, better brace yourselves for changes regarding evening rush hours as it was announced that the number coding will return very soon according to a GMA News report.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the GMA News report. Some parts in boldface…

Majority of National Capital Region (NCR) mayors have agreed to reinstate the number coding scheme during afternoon rush hour, according to Allan Gatus’ report on Super Radyo dzBB on Monday.

Citing Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos, the report said the number coding scheme will be implemented Monday to Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will cover only private vehicles.

Public utility vehicles (PUVs) are exempted from the scheme as they are still operating under limited passenger capacity under Alert Level 2.

The above report ended stating that the actual implementation of the return of the number coding scheme will happen officially two days after the resolution gets published on the Official Gazette.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What can you say about this new development? Do you drive regularly around Metro Manila during the evening rush hours? Do you think that the return of number coding in Metro Manila is good?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Xbox-exclusive Forza Horizon 5 gathers lots of rave reviews!

The high excitement for gaming on Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Xbox Game Pass and Windows PC is real right now as Forza Horizon 5 gained lots of rave reviews from video game critics and YouTubers! As of this writing, the Playground Games-developed Xbox-exclusive game is averaging a score of 91 (out of 100) out of 81 published reviews according to Metacritic!

If you are wondering how does Forza Horizon 5 looks like and what the reviewers said, we can start by taking a look at each of the following video reviews below…

And now, let’s take at some text-based reviews of the game with key quotes highlighted. I highly recommend you read each of their respective reviews for the best possible insight and immersion.

Windows Central Gaming: Forza Horizon 5 is grand and beautiful. It also launches on more platforms simultaneously than any previous Forza game, giving people more ways to experience everything this game across Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, and Xbox Cloud Gaming through Xbox Game Pass. Absolutely a game of the year contender for 2021, Forza Horizon 5 is the quintessential choice among the best racing games.

TheGamer: Collectively, Forza Horizon 5 does everything right, and in doing so makes Playground Games’ latest entry into the Forza franchise an absolute must-play for any racing enthusiast or casual racing fan.

Game Revolution: Forza Horizon 5 is the best Forza yet and, not only that, but it also makes a strong case for being the best racing game period. A joyous combo of arcade racing and simulation-level depth, all wrapped up in a beautiful bow thanks to its diverse, expansive Mexico setting, this is an unmissable iteration in what is arguably gaming’s most consistently fantastic series.

Press Start Australia: I’ve played a few open-world racers in my time, but I’m not sure I’ve ever come across one so feature-rich. It really is comprehensive, nailing the scope of its world while filling the world with meaningful things to do, offering a suite of multiplayer and co-op possibilities, and free-roam of a boiled-down vision of Mexico that’s begging to be explored.

Now that the game critics and YouTubers have spoken, it is clear that Forza Horizon 5 is a great game just waiting to be played by gamers worldwide and the 3-year wait for it is worth it. Playground Games worked hard to make the Xbox-exclusive racing game and it looks very polished and almost flawless. Forza Horizon 5 is set for a general release worldwide on November 9, 2021. If the rave reviews it gathered have convinced you already, you can acquire a copy (digital or physical) online here, here, here or here to name a few.

Very clearly, the age of “Xbox has no games” is over and Forza Horizon 5 is just one of many upcoming Xbox-exclusive games realized. Given the open-world racer’s massive critical success, it is clear that Team Xbox has indeed reached a turning point heading towards a new age of super fun and high quality Xbox-exclusive games. Neither Sony nor Nintendo has anything to compete with Forza Horizon 5 with regards to the open-world racing genre. Now is only the beginning of a new age of high excitement for Xbox fans (reminder: Xbox 20th anniversary celebration will take place on November 15, 2021) and anyone who loves games on Xbox platforms and Windows PC! I believe Forza Horizon 5 will impress even the most rabid Xbox-haters when they play it enough. I would not be shocked if Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi is playing Forza Horizon 5 in secret somewhere, to learn from it so he can complete his work on Gran Turismo 7.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox and Forza Horizon 5-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Top Gear (SNES)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing Top Gear and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Remember back in the early 1990s how impressive the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES or Super NES) was when it comes to fulfilling your early expectations of the enhanced gaming experience aided by new technology?

Super Mario World was astounding the first time I got to play it on our Super NES. The same experience too I had with The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

And then there was our first Super NES racing game titled Top Gear (not to be confused with the popular motoring media franchise) developed by Gremlin Graphics and published by Kemco.

The game cover.

Concept and Game Design

Top Gear is a car-focused racing game that had over thirty tracks and creatively emphasized the global locations in it. The very meat of the game is its global tournament in which you need to finish at least in 5th place in order to qualify to join the next race.

Creatively, each race has courses that vary in distance, the sharpness of turns (as far as 2D graphics allowed), number of laps and, strangely enough, have certain obstacles that can distract or even surprise such as stones, iron plates and even trees.

Before choosing a car, you must pay attention to the maximum speed, acceleration, tire grip and fuel consumption.

On the player’s side, there are cars offered and they vary in terms of maximum speed, acceleration, tire grip and fuel consumption. Cars also have nitro which come in limited amounts and can be used to give you a boost

For its visual presentation, Top Gear is strictly a split-screen game even during times you play only single-player. In my experience, split-screen is more lively to watch when playing against a fellow human player.

Quality

I can say clearly that Top Gear was highly enjoyable to play, and it was more fun 2-player sessions. On the very gameplay itself, I enjoyed the high-speed challenges that include overtaking other cars on the road while trying to climb up the rankings enroute to the finish line. Speaking of challenges, the aspect of managing your fuel supply while dealing with speeding and overtaking others is memorable and there were times when my car ran out of gas and stopped because I was not able to make a pit stop during the race.

The pit stop itself can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on situations. If you are low on fuel and you still have a long way to go, you need to refuel at the pit stop. However, the more time you spend on the pit stop, the more your opponents traveled catching up with you or increasing their lead over you. There were also memorable times when I had sufficient fuel and my opponent had to refuel at the pit stop. While opponent was refueling, I just kept driving and used the nitro to increase my speed and keep on moving forward.

Split-screen all the time, even when you play single.

Going back to the fuel management aspect, there were times when my car ran out of gas and stopped. Suddenly, an AI-controlled car from behind hit my car and gave me some forward movement. There were a few, unexpected times that my gas-empty car got pushed enough to cross the finish line.

Visually, race courses are limited in the sense that the game only shows split-screen views. You always have a road to travel on which can suddenly turn left or right depending on the race course. What adds visual variety are the surroundings specifically the elements on the sides of the road (examples: the desert environment Las Vegas, the snow of Sweden, the rain forest trees of Brazil) and background art (example: the metropolitan view of Tokyo). Sprite scaling is limited but that is understandable given the limits of the Super NES. Even so, the feeling and look of 3D is sufficient.

Night driving in 2D.

While the sound effects of cars bumping, tires screeching and engines are satisfying, what really stood out is the soundtrack which, for the most part, is energetic and even encouraging enough to keep me and my friends playing. Barry Leitch produced the music and due to the lack of time provided to him, he had to literally recycle and arrange his other musical works from Lotus games.

Conclusion

One car still racing on the road with low fuel, the other car is in the pit stop refueling.

Top Gear was truly a well-made game and it succeeded not only in delivering a true console generation upgrade over our NES for console racing but also created lots of bouts of fun for me and my friends. In my experience, this Kemco-published game was the first true gem of multiplayer on the Super NES. Even by today’s standards, Top Gear remains unique and still is very enjoyable for anyone who loves 16-bit, 2-dimensional console racing.

Overall, Top Gear is highly recommended!

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What caught my attention during the Xbox Gamescom 2021 showcase

The Xbox Gamescom 2021 digital event has passed and it turned out to be different from the acclaimed Xbox-Bethesda event. Just before it happened, Team Xbox’s Aaron Greenberg posted on Twitter stating: Running about 90 min & focused on game updates coming this year. So to set expectations, no new reveals or major surprises, but fun stream with our amazing hosts @vicious696 @kateyeager !

It was different in terms of tone, upcoming games, and announcements but ultimately it was still fun. In case you missed the Xbox Gamescom 2021 live stream, it is posted below for your viewing pleasure…

What caught my attention

Remember when I first wrote about The Gunk which was originally slated for a September 2021 release exclusively on Xbox? After such a long period of no updates from developer Thunderful, a brand-new trailer of the game was shown during the Gamescom showcase of Microsoft and what is notable was that it turned out to be the first look on its gameplay! Watch and look closely at the new The Gunk trailer below…

According to the Xbox.com article written by Thunderful’s game director Ulf Hartelius, The Gunk will finally be released this coming December (previously targeted for September 2021 release). Read the excerpt below. Some parts in boldface…

We’re extremely happy to have finally revealed our first gameplay trailer during the gamescom 2021 – Xbox Stream.

Early on, we decided to use Unreal Engine 4 to bring this story to life. It not only allows us to rapidly prototype and iterate, but it also offers us incredible flexibility and powerful graphics tools that have made the jump from 2D to 3D extremely smooth for the team. On top of that, we added some of our own super cool tech to do things like give the gunk a life of its own. From the outset, our goal was for the gunk to have this mesmerising quality, something you can just sit and watch bubble away for ages, like a lava lamp.

Partnering with Xbox has been incredible, and we wanted to leverage the power of the Xbox ecosystem to its fullest potential. We’ve made a massive effort to ensure that whatever platform you play on, you will experience our full vision of The Gunk.

As is to be expected, we’re using Smart Delivery to best support all Xbox platforms. On Xbox One, you can expect a stable 30fps experience that offers the beautiful art design and graphical flourishes that you have seen in our trailer. If you’re playing on Xbox Series X|S or a high-end PC, everything is dialled up and we aim to provide you with a smooth 60fps gameplay experience at up to 4K resolution.

Considering the high expectations that Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite are the premier Xbox-exclusive games set for the 4th quarter this year, The Gunk is a welcome Xbox-exclusive addition that gamers can look forward to especially if they are searching for science fiction adventuring laced with exploration. Personally, I am looking forward to The Gunk!

State of Decay 2 was surprising. While I never got to play any State of Decay game, this update for the game (which was first released in 2018) looks like a serious attempt to resonate with dedicated franchise fans as it will deliver the original map of the first game (launched on Xbox 360) which will be presented with an open-world aesthetic. The said update is coming out on September 1, 2021. Watch the trailer below…

More on State of Decay 2, here is an excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by Will Tuttle. Some parts in boldface…

In this new version of the iconic map, players will learn about the latest developments in this area, discovering new characters and storylines and resolving long-running plot threads.

Players can also look forward to six new bases, as well as unique weapons and outfits that can only be found in Trumbull Valley. New missions and new achievements await those who choose to settle on this new map.

In addition, we are proud to announce that State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition has surpassed 10 million players since its launch, a major milestone reflecting the success and popularity of the ultimate survival-sim game.

I never played the original Dying Light game and am not a fan of zombie-related gaming, but Dying Light 2: Stay Human was intriguing and entertaining to watch during the Xbox Gamescom 2021 event with lead game designer Tymon Smektala and animation director Dawid Lubryka of Techland doing the presentation. To see more of the game, watch the video below…

Here’s an excerpt from the Xbox.com article. Some parts in boldface…

The designers at Techland put a lot of attention to parkour animations. There are thousands of them, making navigation feel incredibly smooth. We wanted to make it as close as possible to the real world, while keeping all the moves fun and easy to pull off. But what takes exploration to the next level is your new set of skills—and gear! Oh yes, you don’t have to rely on your body alone. From the new paraglider to the ever-useful grappling hook, you’ll be able to make the most epic runs. They’ll often take place hundreds of meters above the street level. There are also ropes to swing on, rope bridges, trampolines, elevators—you name it. Of course, you’re going to need some practice before you master the navigation.

Survival is not just about moving around, however. Parkour is like yin to creative combat’s yang. Combine the two, and you’ll truly have a chance to see another sunrise! In Dying Light 2: Stay Human, the way you approach enemies can — and should — differ after you consider some factors. First of all, the faction you’ve sided with can impose (or prefer) a certain style of playing. Some like to steamroll through the enemy, others prefer to be more subtle about it. But ultimately, you choose how you play, so another thing to watch out for is who you’re facing. Between the Infected and the various factions surviving in the city, everyone will try to take you down in a different way. Some enemies will act alone. Some will work in a group. It’s good to learn the different behavior patterns and recognize what kind of weapons your enemies are carrying.

Dying Light 2: Stay Human was first announced during the Xbox event of the E3 in 2018 and in January 2020, it was announced that the game would be delayed. The game is set for a December 7, 2021 release for multiple platforms.

Crusader Kings III, which was released on personal computers in 2020, is coming to Xbox Series consoles as well as Xbox Game Pass (XGP) although a clear and specific release date has yet to be announced as of this writing.

I find this one interesting as I enjoyed simulation, strategy and role-playing games on PC before. I also enjoy playing games that allow gamers to make decisions out of the choices offered and show what happened next. Already an assurance has been made that Crusader Kings III has been optimized for Xbox Series consoles. Check out the excerpt from the Xbox.com article below. Some parts in boldface…

The Xbox Series X|S adaptation of Crusader Kings III will take advantage of the many strengths of the system, bringing special benefits. For example, the Xbox Series X|S internal SSD will allow for ultrafast loading times will enable you to easily switch between the game and a playthrough or tutorial you are checking out on YouTube.

The UI has been customized to work with the Xbox Wireless Controller, including the addition of radial menus, ensuring that none of the depth and detail of the Crusader Kings III experience has been lost in translation.

The release date for Crusader Kings III for Xbox Series X|S will be announced soon, but we can already commit to having this title available on Xbox Game Pass on day one. We hope that the Xbox community will grasp the opportunity to play one of the most popular strategy titles in the world.

Last but not least is Forza Horizon 5 which is set for a November 9, 2021 release and it is only looking even better and more promising. Check out the two newest videos below…

Playground Games are really experts in their craft with regards to open-world racing games as you can see in the above videos. The Mexico setting is just waiting to be explored and I am confident there will not only be a lot of locations to visit but also surprises and very exciting races to compete in. Check out the excerpt from the Xbox.com article below. Some parts in boldface…

As you play through Forza Horizon 5 and explore our expansive version of Mexico, you can expect cargo planes, an active volcano, a race to the festival under beautiful Mexican skies, and more. You’ll see exciting sights like the Ford Bronco Badlands atop the active, snow-capped Gran Caldera volcano, the 2020 Corvette Stingray tearing up the asphalt towards a dust storm in the Mexican farmland, and the Porsche 911 Desert Flyer crashing through the dense jungle tree canopy.

And finally, you’ll get to experience the stunning Mercedes-AMG ONE at full speed along Mexico’s sunbaked rocky coast.

Conclusion

The Xbox Gamescom 2021 digital event served its purpose with regards to games coming to the Xbox ecosystem this year (note: Psychonauts 2 got another pre-launch boost) as well as delivering updates for Xbox Game Pass subscribers as well as new stuff for Xbox gamers who rely on cloud services for their gaming needs. The Xbox-exclusives presented (led by Forza Horizon 5) are not as high-caliber as those showcased in the Xbox-Bethesda event of months ago, but still there is something exciting for the Xbox ecosystem and its gamers to look forward to.

In my honest view, Team Xbox and 343 Industries missed an opportunity to give gamers a much-needed update about Halo Infinite which, as of this writing, still has no solid release date and lacks serious updates about the single-player campaign! By now, the positive vibes from the multiplayer previews have faded and the recent reports about Halo Infinite are discouraging. While Japan is having very serious COVID-19 problems, the 2021 edition of the Tokyo Game Show is still on as of this writing. Will we see Team Xbox organize a Tokyo Game Show-related digital event to emphasize Halo Infinite and provide the much-needed updates? We will find out soon. Really, the pressure is now on 343 Industries to ensure Halo Infinite will be great to play.

In ending this piece, here are some Xbox-related videos for your enjoyment.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com