Formula Drift Hype: Round 7 Irwindale Galleries Up!

Posted on 10.14.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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We’ve all been waiting for it and it is finally here!  We have not one but two galleries from Formula Drift Irwindale Round 7!  One gallery is the result of me standing in the middle of the track being sprayed by rubber shrapnel and breathing toxic tire smoke! Yay!  Seriously though, there is nothing quite like being up close to screaming, snarling drift cars as they slide past you at full “tilt” (see what I did there?).  Hopefully our pictures convey that feeling.  We also have a gallery of the best cars from the Offset Kings showcase presented by illest so there’s that bit of awesomeness as well.  Its all below in the embedded galleries!

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Hype Video: The Best Part Of Waking Up Is Porsche GT3 Cup

Posted on 10.06.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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Its the early hours and you might still feel a bit sleepy so I am going to help you get ready to take on your day with a wake up call courtesy of Clash Production.  Turn up your speakers, headphones, etc. and watch the 8 and half minute long video of pure Porsche GT3 Cup madness as you are put in the POV of the driver while he clicks off some “leisurely” hot laps.  This is better than a bowl of Wheaties any day!

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Hype Review: Forza Horizon 2. Its Back. Its Bigger. But Is It Better? SPOILER ALERT: ..Yes, Yes It Is.

Posted on 09.30.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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Its been a long time coming, but today everyone can finally get their hands on Forza Horizon 2!  First announced a short while before E3 this year, Forza fans have been waiting to sink their teeth into a brand new open world and full of bright shiny tasty cars!  So, is it everything we hoped it would be?  Is it worth the wait?  More importantly, is it worth $60?  Here is my take…

DISCLAIMER: Microsoft provided an early full copy of Forza Horizon 2 as well as a loaner Xbox One console for the purposes of this review.  Since I needed a console to play the game I have had significantly less time with the game than most of the other outlets who reviewed the game.  This is why I am doing a written review rather than my typical video review.  This review will also be a bit leaner since I did not have as much time with the game.  That being said, lets dive in!

What is Forza Horizon 2?

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Just in case you haven’t been paying attention to this website or various others for the last 6 months or so let me fill you in on what Forza Horizon is all about.  “Horizon” is a virtual music and automotive festival that usually takes place in a sprawling, scenic local, and is essentially a free-for-all to any gear head to drive their dream car in an open world in anyway they see fit.  Forza Horizon 2 greatly expands on what the first Horizon game did, specifically by moving the location from Utah to southern Europe with locations like Nice, and Sisteron.  All in all the area in which players can explore in Forza Horizon 2 is double what it was in the first Horizon game.

How does it look?

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As stated in the disclaimer I played the Xbox One version of Forza Horizon 2 and like its cousin Forza Motorsport 5, Horizon 2 seems to take full advantage of the Xbox One’s power.  The visuals are stunning.  The cars look very realistic and sharp inside and out.  I was half expecting the visual quality to be lower than that of Forza 5 but the standards were still set the same.  In some ways Forza Horizon 2 actually looks better than Forza 5 but more on that later.  Anyway, its more than just the cars that look good the environments are amazing.  Whenever I plow through a vineyard in first person view its almost like I can smell the soil and the grapes being stirred up and smashed by the car. To make things even better visually Forza Horizon 2 has dynamic weather.  This is the first and only Forza game so far with weather effects and it looks awesome!  The way the water beads on the car’s paint surface and windshield looks incredible.  The weather also realistically affects how the environments look as well.  Reflections of the car and its surroundings can be seen on wet asphalt.  Random puddles form, differences in the terrain create pools of standing water.  Once the rain stops the moisture doesn’t just magically disappear, it actually takes a while to dry off!  Because of the extra visual detail that the weather adds it actually makes the game look even better than Forza Motorsport 5 in a way. For their first time doing weather the team really knocked it out of the park!

How do the cars drive?

When the first Forza Horizon game came out many were skeptical as to how the car physics would play out.  At first glance Forza Horizon seems very much like an “arcade” style racer, which typically means very floaty loose physics meant more for forgiveness than accuracy.  The first Horizon game eased fears by using the same physics system used in Forza Motorsport.   Horizon 2 follows the tradition by keeping its physics firmly based on the simulator side although things are tweaked just a little bit to make things a little more accessible for less experienced players.  However, just like in Forza Motorsport assists can be turned off for increased realism in handling (as well as difficulty).  Additionally tuning has been expanded so that parameters can be more finely adjusted that previously allowed in the first Horizon game.  The only thing that would have made this better is if they allowed for a tune to be exported from Forza Motorsport 5 to Horizon 2.  Maybe in the next version?  Also, as I mentioned earlier the new weather system adds a whole new layer to the game’s physics.  When it starts the pour everything changes and players will have to take real care to make sure they stay in control.  This isn’t to say that as soon as it rains handling goes out the window but it does get more difficult.  Combine that with the fact that players will never know when the rain will come and you have the makings of challenging gameplay.

How many cars are there?

I wont spend too much time here since this info is pretty easy to find but there are over 210 cars available at launch with more coming via DLC in the future.  As far as the curation of the cars available trust me when I tell you all your bases are covered.  There are plenty of exotics, supercars, sports cars, classics, and cult classics to choose from.  Anyone will be hard pressed to find a car that should be in the roster but isn’t.  Its all there!

How much is there to do?

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I am just going to flat out say it now.  It will be a very long time before any player does all there is to do “officially” in Forza Horizon 2.  There are hundreds of roads and over 700 (yes 700!) events to do.  Depending on how casually one games they may not even finish it all before the next Horizon game comes out.  The possibilities are expanded even further when considering other events such as “bucket lists” (one-off events that encourage major hoonage), the return of “barn finds”, and the fact that you can challenge just about any car on the road to an impromptu street race.  That last part is even more special in Horizon 2 since this time around players deal with “drivatars” just like in Forza Motorsport 5.  Each “AI” car is literally based off the “driving personality” of another real player.  This adds a whole new dimension to not just every random street race but all the races in the game because you are always racing against drivatars.

The seamless multiplayer mode adds even more to do with open world roaming lobbies in which players can explore the world as a group and decide what they want to do and literally just do it.  The experience is much smoother, easier, and more fun.  There really is no place where single player ends and multiplayer begins, and that’s a good thing.  Everything about the events and other experiences of this game are really meant to pull players in.  Some people may even find themselves having to reserve time to go back to Forza Motorsport 5 because they will be so involved in Horizon 2.

What’s not to like?

No game is perfect and Forza Horizon 2 is no exception.  While there is a lot to love about this game there are some things I didn’t quite like.  The first is how the driveatars look.  Now that might seem like an odd statement considering drivatars use the same cars that everyone else uses but there is one key difference.  For some reason driveatars are given graphics schemes and those schemes tend to be on the tacky side.  I know this is kind of a knit pick but its just weird to see a Lamborghini Aventador with a 1992 Hot Import Nights-style checkered flag theme.  In Forza Motorsport 5 this treatment can be turned off but as far as I can tell, that option isn’t available in Forza Horizon 2.

Another thing that took some points off is the music.  Now, I am not saying the music is bad.  In fact, music is a big part of what makes the “Horizon” series what it is.  Just like in the first Horizon game there are radio stations with different genres of music that the player can choose on the fly.  The choices of music are even greater now with over 150 stations to choose from.  The problem is unlike the first Horizon game in which all the stations are available at the start, in Forza Horizon 2 only three are available and more stations are unlocked as you progress in the game.  This lead to me getting tired of the music real fast in the early hours of playing and I found myself just keeping the radio off for the most part until I unlocked more stations.

Conclusion

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Back when Forza Horizon 2 was first announced many of the hardcore fans had a lot of specific and technical questions like “how many cars will there be?”, “how much bigger is the open world?”, “can we turn on the headlights and windshield wipers?”.  I will admit that I had some of those questions myself as I waited for this game to arrive.  Yet, I can honestly say that within the first 10 minutes of playing the game none of that stuff matters anymore.  All that mattered to me was “OMG I am driving a Ferrari through a random field plowing through giant hay bales on a southern European country side and its awesome!”  I think in the end it was that feeling that Playground Games was really going for when they began to work on Forza Horizon 2.  They really did create this virtual theme park of automotive pleasures with seemingly limitless possibilities for having obnoxious fun.   That, my friends is well worth 60 bucks.  I would easily give this game a 9.5 out of 10 and recommend you go out and buy it immediately if you haven’t done so already!

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Event Hype: This Are Our Favorite Cars From 86 Fest (Gallery)

Posted on 09.22.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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Over the weekend I took a short drive from Long Beach up to Irwindale Speedway (AKA “The House of Drift”) to visit the third annual 86Fest.  To be honest, despite it being the third annual event this was my first time attending 86 Fest.  I have to say I was very impressed!  The 86 community is definitely rolling deep!  The line for official 86 Fest gear was long all day and everyone was repping with shirts, decals, whatever to show their love for Toyota’s iconic FR coupe.  There was also enough vendors and partner booths to rival any other major car show.  Granted the weather was pretty “warm” to say the least, it was definitely worth it.  If you haven’t been to 86 Fest yet I would highly recommend coming out next year.  You won’t be disappointed!  For now check out my short gallery below of my favorite cars of 86 Fest!  Thanks to Antonio and the guys at MotorMavens.com for the invite!

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Hype: Everyone Needs To Have This Flux Capacitor USB Charger In Their Car Right Now Because 1.21 Giga Watts!! (Video)

Posted on 09.22.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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I am an 80s kid.  Thus, anything “Back to the Future” related is full of instant awesome for me.  So, you can imagine the expression my face when I found this Flux Capacitor USB car charger on ThinkGeek.com.  It went something like this…  Anyhow this thing is awesome and completely legit to the actual Flux Capacitor prop in the movie.  It lights up and everything!  Plus it has two USB ports so users can charge two devices simultaneously (one of the ports is 2.1 amp for quick charging).  There is also an on/off switch for the lighting effect but I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to turn it off!  Anyhow this thing is awesome and I am going to get one.  If you want one as well its about $25 bucks and sold exclusively on ThinkGeek.com

[Source: ThinkGeek.com]

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Hype Video: Tanner Foust Attempts To Melt By Brain With His New Global Rallycross VW Beetle (cellphone video)

Posted on 09.19.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments
Tanner Foust's GRC VW Beetle

Tanner Foust’s GRC VW Beetle

Yesterday I took a drive down to San Pedro to check out the scene of the next round of Red Bull Globalrally cross happening this weekend (you can watch live on tv!).  The rumor was that Tanner Foust’s new VW Beetle was going to make its debut at this event so my real motive for making the trip was to check out his new car in person.  I got much more than I bargained for.  It turned out that the event organizers were doing media ride alongs and I was lucky enough to sit shotgun with Tanner Foust as he took to the course in his brand new car.

I will admit I was a bit nervous.  However, I figured this was a new car, its a media ride along, he will probably take it easy on me.  I was completely wrong.  Although to be fair my first indicator should have been the flagger literally warning me that Tanner was about to melt my face off.  You will see what I mean when you watch the incredibly bouncy cellphone video I shot of my experience below.  If its too crazy then I apologize.  I was too busy trying to not pass out to really put deep thought and consideration to my shot composition.

Anyhow, scroll down and enjoy!

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Hype Video: Clash Production Brings Out The Beauty Of Rally In Latest Edit

Posted on 09.17.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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Its been a while since I posted anything from Clash Production and that’s a crime!  So, first of I will apologize and secondly I will make things up to all of you by pointing your attention to the video below in which the Clash Production team along with NangleVideo.com to beautifully document a sliver of tarmac and gravel action from Rally Mont Blanc 2014.  The screen capture above is just one of the beautiful images in store over the course of nearly two glorious minutes!  Anyhow, enough talk.  Scroll down and enjoy!

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Hype Video: HKS Chronicles Their Quest For World Time Attack Domination With 1300HP Nissan GT-R

Posted on 09.17.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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If there is one thing that HKS loves to do is set lap times.  For more than a decade HKS has been chasing lap records all over the world and the only thing that has changed from then until now is their chosen weapon.  This year HKS is aiming to take top honors at the WTAC (World Time Attack Challenge) in Sydney, Australia next month in their new 1300HP Nissan GT-R.  HKS’ current GT-R is not only up 100HP over last year’s car but it also features a few trick one-off parts in the engine to help them efficiently use all of those extra horses.

HKS decided to document their journey in developing this car all the way up until its final battle at WATC Australia via video chapters.  Check out chapter one below and keep an eye out for a very familiar face!

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Gaming Hype: Forza Horizon 2 Launch Trailer Drops. Is Full Of Shiny Cars, EDM, And Awesome

Posted on 09.11.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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Forza Horizon 2 will arrive on store shelves at the end of this month (September 30th) so the launch party is starting to get rolling.  It kicked off with a bright, shiny, EDM-fueled trailer that just released a few moments ago.  The new trailer shows off most of what we can expect from the next Horizon game featuring everything from crazy off roading with Rally Fighters to racing trains with WRX’s.  If you avoid blinking you can see a sample of all the cars that will make an appearance in the game but if you want a full list of all 210 cars that will be available at launch hit up the Forza Horizon website.

In addition to the trailer Turn 10 Studios also released some information on how the “Forza Rewards” system will work with Forza Horizon 2.  Essentially, the “Forza Rewards” program will gift free cars to players who have earned x amount of points just from playing Forza games.  According to Turn 10 players started earning Forza Reward points way back in the Forza Motorsport 2 days.  Points are earned by playing and/or doing different things in each Forza game.  In Forza Motorsport 5 points are rewarded based on how many cars a player owns, how many miles they have driven, etc.  The amount of points a player has will determine what “tier” they are in.

Based on the tier a player falls into they will be able to choose up to 5 (non-DLC) cars to add to their Forza Horizon 2 garage right away.  It breaks down like so:

Tier Level Car
2 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe
3 2013 Viper GTS
4 2015 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4
5 2014 Local Motors Rally Fighter
6 2013 McLaren P1

Nice line up right?  Still, there may be some out there who have never played the first Forza Horizon game and might be on the fence about this new one.  To those people I would suggest trying out the Forza Horizon 2 demo which comes out for Xbox One on September 16th (next Tuesday).  Anyone that is still on the fence after that can check out our full review of Forza Horizon 2 to get our take on it.

For now check out the new launch trailer below and stay tuned for more Forza Horizon 2 updates!

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Movie Hype: Glorious New OFFICIAL Picture Of New Batmobile Surfaces. It Has Guns.

Posted on 09.10.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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Yesterday the internet was turned upside down when several “spy shots” of the new Batmobile from the coming “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice” movie surfaced.  An individual who claimed to be working in the area where filming is currently taking place spotted the new Batmobile parked in an alley and covered in dust.  He quickly pulled out his phone, snapped a few pictures and uploaded them to Instagram; moments later Instagram exploded.  OK, it didn’t actually explode but things definitely jumped off.  The grainy night shots quickly made the rounds from movie nerd sites to other automotive sites.  Everyone was talking about it.

However, there was a problem: the pictures sucked and the car was filthy.  Most people didn’t care but no self-respecting Hollywood director would have one of his main props floating around on the internet looking shabby so Zack Snyder (the director) took to Twitter last night and posted a new picture “official” Batmobile picture.  In the new shot (as seen above) the Batmobile is really featured in all its glory with big honking guns pointed right at the camera.  That may throw off most Batman fans as the Dark Knight is known for his aversion to firearms but its quite possible that those gun turrets fire rubber bullets.  Whether you agree with the guns or not its hard to admit they don’t look pretty badass sitting there.

For a larger version of the new Batmobile image as well as the earlier leaked pictures click the thumbnails below.

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