Minnesota Cars & Coffee – August 2014

This month’s Cars & Coffee meet was tremendous, both in car and spectator turnout. Maybe it’s the desire to cram as many outdoor events into the fleeting summer schedule or the chance alignment of the free time of Minnesota car enthusiasts, but whatever the cause the Automotorplex was packed to the gills this month. The huge attendance didn’t deter from the show and I saw many car owners excitedly discussing their cars with interested attendees. The Cars & Coffee staff also put in a great effort in organizing cars transiting through the crowd and managing traffic.

My highlights of the show were mostly engine swaps, although it’s hard to discount the first Bugatti Veyron I’ve had the pleasure to see in person. The turbo LS V8 Miata, BMW 2002 with a Nissan SR20, Bonneville-inspired Viper swapped car, and Chevy Bel Air with a V12 marine motor were all excellent entertainment.

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Minnesota Cars & Coffee – June 2014

The weather was pretty miserable for this month’s Minnesota Cars & Coffee, which takes place at the Automotorplex on the first Saturday of the month from 8am until 10am. The rain didn’t stop some excellent cars or the crowd from showing up, and it ended up being a worthwhile morning adventure.

My highlights were the convertible E30 M3, the group of Aventadors, a mean looking black on black 430, and a massive gathering of Tesla Model S cars.

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Gran Turismo 6 or Forza 5?

With the recent release of Gran Turismo 6 for the PlayStation 3 and Forza Motorsport 5 for the Xbox One gamers have quite the decision to make when spending their money. Which game is worth your time and dollars?


Image via the Giantbomb.com wiki


Image via the Giantbomb.com wiki

Both games are certainly stunning visually but what’s behind that shiny veneer? While the answer differs for each game, it’s not a positive answer for either game.

In the case of Forza 5 fantastic driving simulation physics and next generation graphics are mired among microtransactions, weird opponent driver AI, and poor menu design.

The microtransactions are bothersome as you’ve already paid $60 for the game but are constantly reminded to spend more money by purchasing tokens that you then use to unlock cars. While this system was in Forza 4, it was implemented in a much more subtle way and you didn’t feel penalized if you choose to not spend more money.

The artificial intelligence for the cars you race against is the much touted “Drivatar” system. The way this system works is that the game monitors how actual people drive in the game and then uses that data to build profiles of driving styles. The game then uses these profiles to pilot the cars you will race against online or off. This sounds terrific on paper but neglects one fact, that people drive like utter assholes in Forza. This results in the AI drivers constantly hitting you, rear ending you entering turns, and generally doing their best to run you off the road. You are unable to escape this as you did in previous games, by simply playing single player, as this Drivatar AI is used in every race in Forza 5.

Lastly, Forza 5 eschews the excellent menu design of 4 and chooses to make race selection much more difficult. Instead of displaying races suitable for the car you are using, it displays races for set categories of cars. The cynic in me says this is to help promote gamers wanting to use tokens in order to have the proper car for the next race.

Gran Turismo 6 also presents excellent simulation physics and sharp graphics but continues the legacy of GT5 with outdated menu design and fewer features than it’s competitor.

It helps to know the history of Gran Turismo to understand where GT is at today. GT was the pinnacle of simulation driving games until an extremely prolonged development for GT5 caused fans to look elsewhere. Those fans flocked to Forza and multiple games were produced in the wait for GT5. This allowed the Forza developers to add features and react to consumer feedback more quickly. Due to this, when GT 5 came out it felt like a game that was 5 years old partly because it started development then and most of the design designs never changed.

GT 6 suffers from some of these same ills because it hasn’t had the opportunity to cater to consumer wants through multiple game iterations. This leads up a game that feels old and outdated. Once you get past the “game” and actually get behind the wheel, GT 6 shines.

With that all out of the way, which should you buy?

Neither.

I think anyone looking to purchase a top notch driving game would be best served by buying Forza 4. 4 is missing the glaring flaws of 5 and GT 6, while it’s dated release means 4 now can be found in bargain bins.

Minnesota Cars & Coffee – September 2013

Another month, another exceptional Minnesota Cars & Coffee held at the It seemed like the exotics were out in force this month, I’m sure the owners wanted to get in one last car show before the cars get garaged for the upcoming winter. I also took a few photos of a couple garage spaces there, some of them get pretty crazy. One had a model train that ran around the perimeter of the garage.

Aston MartinGT3 RSLincoln Continental Continue reading Minnesota Cars & Coffee – September 2013