Monday, May 1, 2017

Is NASCAR Heat Mobile A Hot Racing App?

Photo Credit: NASCAR Heat Mobile/704Games



After a 15-year absence, the NASCAR Heat brand was revived late last year as Monster Games returned as a developer for Dusenberry Martin Racing’s (now named 704Games) official video game based on the major league stock car racing series. NASCAR Heat Evolution was released this past September for Xbox One, Sony Playstation 4 as well as Windows OS computers. While the realistic driving mode and learning curve of racing in professional stock cars were appreciated by devoted fans, NASCAR Heat Evolution gained a lukewarm reception when it was released. On Metacritic, NASCAR Heat Evolution received a Metascore of 66 with a less impressive User Score of 4.6 out of 10 based on 21 reviewers. Some complaints centred on graphics while others were underwhelmed by the experience delivered for the game’s price. The game is currently priced at $32.99 on Steam  When it comes to games for major consoles such as the Xbox One or Playstation 4, people expect a reliably incredible reservoir of entertainment.

As the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series launched, the inaugural mobile racing game from the NASCAR Heat franchise was added to the Apple App Store. Published by 704Games, the mobile version of NASCAR Heat introduced stock car racing action for a more casual audience.

For almost 20 years, I have played numerous NASCAR video games dating back to the NASCAR Revolution on computer to NASCAR The Game: Inside Line on the Xbox 360. One source for fond memories is NASCAR Racing 1999 Edition for the computer that allowed me to race in the Winston Cup Series, Busch Series or Craftsman Truck Series. My experiences with racing video games have generally favoured authentic and immersing. I have also enjoyed the NASCAR portion of Real Racing 3. Entering my assessment of NASCAR Heat Mobile, there were some expectations for the limitations I will experience. While I admittedly have not played NASCAR Heat Evolution, it’s obvious the mobile game was created as a unique entity and is not a port of the console game.


Photo Credit: NASCAR Heat Mobile/704Games



NASCAR Heat Mobile does a great job in immediately presenting a pleasing to look at gaming experience. All of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series tracks are found in the game. When racing, you’ll be door-to-door with the vehicles belonging to the sport’s current superstars. The game also added Camping World Truck Series drivers Chase Briscoe and Xfinity Series’ Darrell Wallace Jr. to the field by imposing their paint scheme on Cup cars.

 Like many mobile games, the action of this NASCAR Heat game is optimized for a quick play. You can experience the Daytona 500 in just 4 laps or 10 laps on the Martinsville Speedway short track. For the road courses of Sonoma Raceway or Watkins Glen, a two-lap distance presented with the NASCAR Heat mobile game could be shorter in length than pace laps at the actual race. Through these abbreviated races, players can run each race in two manner. The first method is the traditional goal of getting the highest position possible is still the best way to accumulate top prize money. The second way of racing in the NASCAR Heat Mobile game is very similar to what is found in many other apps. Corresponding with the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule starting with the Daytona 500, each race is provided with five random objectives the player needs to achieve in order to earn a maximum three-star rating. Progressing through the season, I’ve noticed the objectives growing more challenging such as maintaining a 59-second consecutive draft at Dover International Speedway (yes, it is one of those stock car racing games that embellishes the effects of drafting on almost every track with exceptions being Martinsville Speedway and Bristol International Speedway). It’s important to gain maximum stars each race in order move-on to the next race on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series calendar. As a relief to people who may be relying on data plans, NASCAR Heat Mobile offers an option of downloading tracks as you progress through the game.


Photo Credit: NASCAR Heat Mobile/704Games



NASCAR Heat Mobile contains almost no learning curve that is associated with simulation-style racing games. The auto racing game trope of the player starting at the back of the grid is replicated in this mobile game. Fortunately, advancing through the field is fairly easy early on as your car seems faster than every other competitors. Braking is automatic into corners and it is very difficult to crash by your own design or wreck other cars (braking can also be applied the touch screen but it serves only useful when attempting to accomplish drafting objectives). When an in-race crash may be generated by the game, no damage will occur to the AI competitors or even your race car. While I was unable to find a way to turn off or adjust the auto-brake function, steering assist can be deactivated. Drafting and bump-drafting is overused as a star-playing accomplishment. Unlike what many stock car fans have observed, drafting in the NASCAR Heat Mobile game actually slows down your progress. After competing through a full season in NASCAR Heat Mobile, completion of the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale will provide one of two choices consisting of either striding to rerun the races of the present season or you can advance to another season featuring more challenging competition.

Besides race finishes, players of NASCAR Heat Mobile earn in-game cash through a Sim City/Roller Coaster Tycoon-like compound presented at the bottom of the main menu screen. Fan attractions such as hot dog stands, blimps, concert venue and RV park provides a generous source for cash for buying upgrades through the game. Garage facilities and R&D Centre are upgradable aesthetically but also improve the level of performance your car can achieve. You can also use in-car currency to buy additional stock cars of Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano or Jimmie Johnson allowing you to race as one of your favourite drivers.


Photo Credit: NASCAR Heat Mobile/704Games



With the before-mentioned Real Racing 3, I have been frustrated by the steep cost of some premier vehicles. I understand there must be a way for an app developer to make money on a game they provide free but some pricing for in-game purchases is preposterous. At this time, to purchase Joey Logano’s #22 Team Penske Ford would require 500 gold coins. Paying real money for the gold coins, 476 costs $69.99 in Real Racing 3. You could buy two copies of NASCAR Heat Evolution on Steam for that price. Earning the gold coins through Real Racing 3 is a major uphill fight that could take months to earn anything remotely usable. In a contrast to Real Racing 3, the NASCAR Heat Mobile game provides a more complete game play for frugal gamers. While you can pay real money to quickly acquire in-game currency, ad-supported platform consisting of 30-second commercials is prevalent appear after races. Players can also endure ads in order to acquire extra fuel, cash or extra spin after scoring a top-5 finish.

A simple, fun game providing a share of addiction thanks to casual yet fulfilling gameplay, the NASCAR Heat Mobile app is a welcoming addition to the screen of a smart device.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Pursuit Is On For Ford's Police Responder Hybrid Sedan

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company


Despite thoughts to the contrary, hybrid vehicles utilizing electric-assist driving are not going anywhere. The frequently adapted gasoline-electric powertrain associated with hybrid automobiles enables a level of efficiency resulting in fewer gasoline emissions. Better fuel economy through hybrids also contributes to savings on gasoline that can total to quite a sum in longer terms.

For 2017, almost every auto company has now introduced at least one hybrid vehicle, Ford Motor Company and Toyota have both taken the once-alternative powertrain the furthest in the marketplace. In the case of Ford, the auto company is committed to developing 13 electrified production vehicles. Including hybrid versions of customer favourite Mustang and F-150 for the future, the blue oval’s plans also consist of implanting electrified products into fleet applications. Catering to their loyal law enforcement customer base as they fulfill their vision of electrified motoring, the Police Responder Hybrid will be available to serve a manner no other vehicle of its type has previously done.  

Based on the Fusion sedan, the Ford Police Responder Hybrid is propelled by a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engine working in concert with an electric motor operating on power supplied by a lithium-ion battery. Unofficial projected fuel economy for the Police Responder Hybrid is stated to be EPA-estimated at 38 miles per gallon.
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Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company


The Ford Police Responder Hybrid is remarkable within the law enforcement community but will not be the first hybrid to perform within police departments. In 2009, a fleet of Nissan Altima Hybrids was activated by the NYPD as patrol cars while the occasional sight of a Toyota Prius, Ford Escape Hybrid Ford Fusion Hybrid could also be detected serving various duties in the city. The plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt has also been adopted by the NYPD designated for non-emergency duties. Canadian law enforcement agencies have also exercised limited use of hybrid vehicles. At least one Toyota Prius served as a school liaison has been used by the RCMP and Edmonton Police Services have up to 15 hybrid vehicles in their fleet including the Ford Escape Hybrid.

What sets the Ford Police Responder Hybrid as a revolutionary vehicle is its ‘all-in’ law enforcement engineering. Ford has created the industry’s first hybrid that is fully equipped as a pursuit capable police car. In order to meet extreme driving conditions, the Ford Police Responder Hybrid has been toughened with heavy-duty suspension parts, special tire/hubcap combination and front deflector plates. The hybrid powertrain has been specially tuned for law enforcement duty by Ford featuring a battery-only mode that can run up to 60 miles per hour (96.6 kilometres per hour) and regenerator braking matched with large diameter rotors. The Ford Police Responder Hybrid has already been placed through a battery of police pursuit duty tests to gain its certification as a pursuit quality machine. Undergoing two durability tests, the hybrid pursuit sedan has also been subjected to water fording and reverse J-turn testing.



Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company



New York City released a study in 2014 on the deployment of just less than 6,900 gasoline-hybrid vehicles within their police and fire department. Their findings indicated the average cost-savings available from hybrid vehicles is $10,812 when calculating fuel, maintenance and added auction value. Ford has estimated with the Police Responder Hybrid fuel savings would be almost $3,900 less per year compared to the brand’s current Police Interceptor Sedan powered by a 3.7-liter V-6 engine.

Expect the first crime-fighting Ford Police Responder Hybrid sedans to be pressed into duty next summer in the United States.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Chevrolet Rallies Together RST and RST Performance Package For Added Large Sport Utility Excitement

Photo Credit: Chevrolet in Canada


This year, we are seeing several new examples where the ‘sport’ portion in the term sport utility vehicle is being presented with increased grandeur. Among the super-exotic, the Bentley Bentayga has become one of the most powerful sport utility vehicles on the market generating 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque from a twin-turbocharged W-12 engine. In February, Dodge introduced a new tire-smoking Durango wearing SRT badging and producing 475-horsepower from a HEMI V-8. Besides engine performance, the latest crop of sport utility and crossover vehicles have continued to integrate agile styling as well as sharper on-road handling. Showing up to the new sport utility performance wearing its traditional bowtie, Chevrolet prepares their Rally Sport badging for a special ride on the Tahoe and Suburban.


Photo Credit: Steve Fecht for Chevrolet


Classified as the Rally Sport Truck or RST, the new performance appearance level is Chevrolet’s hottest ever announced for its 2018 model year full-sized sport utility vehicle platform. The special edition Chevrolet Tahoe RST and Chevrolet Suburban RST are both outfitted with a host of sport touches. Body-colour matching door handle and grille surround is contrasted by a gross black grille and mirror caps. Unique 22-inch wheels mounted to Bridgestone tires complete the look of the sporty Tahoe and Suburban models.

Performance feel crosses over from the visual to the physical with the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe. A most celebrated addition for drivers will be the adoption of the L86 V-8 engine available exclusively on the Tahoe through a Performance Package. Estimated to generate 420 horsepower, the gasoline power unit for the Chevrolet Tahoe RST Performance Package model features the efficiency of direct injection, continuously variable valve timing and Active Fuel Management. The same powerplant has been used by the GMC Yukon Denali and Cadillac Escalade as well as the top-end propulsion choice for the Silverado 1500. The effective horsepower for the Tahoe and Suburban RST models can be greater through an optional Borla performance exhaust system which optimized flow pattern opens up a potential 7-10 horsepower increase.


Photo Credit: Chevrolet in Canada



Power distribution from the estimated 420-horsepower V-8 is channelled through a 10-speed automatic transmission with the Tahoe RST Performance Package model. The new Hydra-Matic transmission will deliver near seamless gear transitions as the Chevrolet Tahoe RST with Performance Package accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 96 kilometres per hour) in less than six seconds. Remaining true to its truck background, the special performance editions of the Chevrolet full-sized sport utility vehicles can potentially tow up to 3,800 kilograms (8,400 pounds).

Promising sport-like ride control by calling active suspension principles, General Motors’ Magnetic Ride Control installed on the RST special edition Chevrolet Tahoe Performance Package delivers a rapidly reacting on-road manner. Magnetic Ride Control can make changes to the vehicle’s handling in as little as 5 milliseconds for optimum cornering and comfort for passengers. Front six-piston Brembo calipers are finished with a flashy red colour provide stopping power against 16.1-inch Duralife rotors.


Photo Credit: Chevrolet in Canada




Arriving for the last quarter of 2017, the RST (Rally Sport Truck) trim is the most recent of many special edition packages Chevrolet is creating to produce unique adrenaline at the showrooms of the bowtie brand. Redline models for a slew Chevrolet vehicles such as the Colorado, Equinox and Malibu have already been announced. In the case of the RST, the Performance Package offered with the Chevrolet Tahoe contributes substantial power in concert with one of these new appearance groups.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

2018 Regal Sportback Expands Design Diversity of Buick Brand

Photo Credit: General Motors Canada
When General Motors maintained six divisions or more vehicle brands, Buick often seemed to have an identity crisis. An upscale brand aspiring to attract a driving public above Chevrolet or Pontiac, Buick also seemed hindered to explore true luxury in concerns for upstaging Cadillac. Before 2004, Buick’s attempt to individualize itself was also being diffused by Oldsmobile’s similar persona. Dropping the iconic Riviera ahead of the 2000 model year also meant Buick went through a decade in North America with a somewhat lacking character. Buick's popularity in China was ultimately sustained the brand when General Motors went into restructuring in 2009.


Photo Credit: General Motors Canada

Under the new GM, a new Buick has been taking shape using greater international flavour. Increased European influence including the Cascada convertible, the segment-creating Encore premium small crossover and the Envision being one of the first Chinese-built vehicles sold in North America by a major auto company defines transformative products of a new mid-level luxury brand. For what will become Buick's 115th anniversary in 2018, another dose of European design will be found with a tri-shield badge.

The 2018 Regal Sportback intensifies the globe-trotting luxury lineup found at Buick dealerships. Based on the platform being used by the new Opel Insignia, this five-door vehicle variant is the first opportunity to see the latest generation Buick Regal as something that is not a traditional sedan. Although displaying enough sedan-like details to lure mid-sized four-door car buyers, the Regal Sportback’s slippery design incorporates strong notes of a coupe. Athlete stance and the fastback roof profile give the car a desirably sportier look.

Coming a year later the Buick LaCrosse, engineers and designers transferred a number of the larger sedan’s traits to the 2018 Regal. The adoption of Buick’s new design language symbolized by its grille featuring a winged Buick badge displayed first with the LaCrosse and Cascada. Another aspect Buick engineers were able to replicate from their larger car was weight reduction over the previous generation model. Compared to the 2017 Buick Regal sedan, the 2018 Regal Sportback is roughly 91 kilograms (200 pounds) lighter despite possessing a longer wheelbase.

Thanks to an additional 3 inches (more than 76 millimeters) of wheelbase length, passenger space receives greater optimization inside the 2018 Buick Regal. Buick’s trademarked QuietTuning technology delivers a cabin environment where a minimal amount of road noise will interfere with the occupant’s ride. A standard 7-inch infotainment unit is standard on the 2018 Regal Sportback while an 8-inch with navigation system is available. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included with the infotainment units of the new Buick provides a few of many electronic connection solutions. OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot comes installed on every 2018 Buick Regal Sportback along with a complimentary five-year OnStar Basic Plan. Ten airbags, push-button start and heated side mirrors will also be standard equipment. Another major feature being incorporated on the upcoming vehicle is an active hood pedestrian safety system. Sensing a likely collision with a person, Buick’s standard active hood pedestrian safety system lifts the back of the hood in order to reduce potential injury to the pedestrian. A wide array of other active safety features such as Rear Cross Traffic Alert is also obtainable on the 2018 Buick Regal Sportback.


Photo Credit: General Motors Canada

With the long rear window, one of the benefits of the Sportback style is added cargo space. Adding up to more than twice the space of the current Regal sedan, the 2018 Buick Regal Sportback features 892 liters of cargo capacity while still accommodating rear seat passengers. When the split-rear seat bench is folded down, up to 1,719 liters of cargo room can be exploited. Buick touts the storage area as greater than the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 4 Gran Coupe.

Powertrain options for the new Regal Sportback is based around 250-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine equipped with standard start/stop technology. A front -wheel drive or all-wheel drive choice with the 2018 Buick Regal Sportback provides some differing attributes beyond just the wheels being propelled. Influenced by 260 pound-feet of torque, the front-wheel drive Regal Sportback is fitted with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Operating through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, torque production is increased to 295 pound-feet with all-wheel drive versions of the 2018 Regal Sportback. Standard active noise cancellation is combined by Buick with the all-wheel drive models.      

The 2018 Buick Regal Sportback will go on-sale in the fourth quarter of 2017 with pricing details to be announced between now and the model’s release date. While there will no longer be a conventional sedan version of the Regal for the 2018 model year, a wagon-like TourX will join the Sportback in the United States market. Canadians will only receive the Buick Regal Sportback for 2018.