After totally redesigning the Mazda 3 in 2010, their engineers kept pushing the envelope to see how far they could take this design. Well, here we are in 2013, driving the 2013 MAZDASPEED3 Touring, and we have to say, Mazda has done quite well. When you drive a car for a week, you can get a really good feel about the soul of the car, and this car has rock ‘n roll in her soul.
The 2013 MAZDASPEED3 Touring is an aggressive looking car, and with velocity red bicolor as tested along with 18-inch gunmetal painted alloy wheels, there is some serious testosterone happening here. Our test model included the Technology package, which adds automatic and adaptive bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights. Other exterior notables were foglights, keyless entry, sport type front and rear bumpers and hood, grille insert and trim, sport-tuned dual exhaust outlet with bright tips, two toned dual power mirrors with turn signal lamps and unique MAZDASPEED3 two-tone rear-lift gate spoiler. The car just screams speed, but also incorporates a clean and stylish appearance.
The cabin space looks sleek and refined compared to past Mazda models and was loaded with options. Our media car boasted 5-passenger seating, tilt and telescopic steering column, audio cruise and Bluetooth steering controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob with contrast stitching, power windows with auto and power door locks, cloth and leather seats, very cool and unique MAZDASPEED3 sillplates and rear armrest with cup holders. Additional optional equipment included interior lighting kit, mirror comp homelink with rain sensor, blind spot monitoring system, full color touch screen navigation system, Sirius satellite radio, HD and Pandora radio, SMS text message delivery and reply, E911 auto emergency notification, alarm system and rain sensing windshield wipers. Yes, this car is loaded and quite comfortable for the driver, as the 2013 MAZDASPEED3 Touring is a work of art for the price.
Nobody ever expects a gaming app to match their console counterparts in terms of looks and controls. Instead, mobile game developers have learned to focus on the benefits of the format and not the hindrances in order to craft brilliant titles separate, but equal to console games, and not dependent on graphics and the like.
“Real Racing 3” has a different approach. It says screw all that.
First the obvious. “Real Racing 3” is a beautiful game that truly offers console quality graphics, and doesn’t just use it as a tagline. From the cars to the courses, everything is immaculately designed and loses no wow factor even at high speeds. There’s still noteworthy competitors, but I truly believe this is the best looking gaming app yet. You’ll never stop being impressed with this game’s looks.
But there’s more than just looks to “Real Racing 3,” as its controls are as pristine as that shiny coat of graphical paint. Acceleration is handled automatically, tilting your phone takes care of turning (and actually works, though a touch option is available), and everything from traction control to braking can be computer assisted (the level of which it helps is adjustable). Overall control is nice and tight, and I never once had to question if a bad manuever was the game’s fault or my own (mostly because I suck).
Furthermore the game’s AI is very, very impressive, and is aided by a new multiplayer concept called Time Shifted Multiplayer, which fills each race with AI versions of your friends and other racers around the world while online, meaning you can essentially still race your friends even offline as they can create ghosts of their laps that imitate their habits. However you choose your opponents though, the competition is fierce and fair.
Put all those features together, and the one limit that mobile gaming supposedly had (that it couldn’t match consoles in certain aspects), seemingly no longer applies, meaning that in all technical regards, “Real Racing 3” is the most notable gaming app in some time.
Otherwise, you’ve got your basic, though well executed, realistic racing game. There is a variety of races and challenges (900 events altogether), a nice selection of 40+ cars, real life racetracks, and in general enough to keep you busy for some time trying to beat and see everything available, and even more time afterwards trying to best your efforts.
The only other notable aspect is the freemium model of the game, as “Real Racing 3” is free, but for a price.
Like many other gaming apps, in-app purchases are available and highly pushed by the design. See the currency in “Real Racing 3” is handled by both funds and coins. Funds are used for buying parts, cars, and the usual and are earned through career progression, while coins are used for other enhancements and are earned by leveling up. Where the dark side of this design emerges in the repair and maintenance system, as you’ll be constantly repairing and maintaining your car’s basic features such as the engine, tires, and oil and using funds to do it. However, it can take several minutes (or even near an hour for multiple repairs) for the work to be done during which time the car is unusable.
This is where coins come in. For a few coins you can make the repair and tuning process instantaneous. The same applies to buying new cars and the like, as purchasing them still requires a waiting period before they can be used, which coins eliminate. The trouble is coins are hard to come by, and you’ll never have an abundance of them to keep up with the need. Instead you are encouraged to buy coins, or cars and upgrades alltogether, with real money to eliminate the tedium.
It’s not the worst pay model I’ve ever seen, but it’s pretty bad. Every non-racing activity is a grind, and it takes forever to complete or unlock even the basics, much less the high end stuff due to how money and time is used. You can buy more coins through in-app purchases if you’re desperate, but you can never eliminate the waiting feature, and I really wish that wasn’t the case as it is a huge detriment to the game. Patience is a necessity, and not a virtue, to get the most out of “Real Racing 3.”
While I sometimes wish then that the game cost a few dollars to eliminate that nuisance, the fact it is free means you can, and should, at least try it. Remove the freemium system, you are left with the gold standard of pure racing games for mobile devices, and a benchmark to the capabilities of the medium as a whole, as well as a game that leaves all other competitors at the starting line, and takes home the trophy for app of the week.
My app this week is really only for residents of NYC. Everyone else, please feel free to proceed to the nearest sexy lady picture you find on this site.
Are they all gone?
So you know how annoying it is trying to catch your subway train on time right? Even though they stick to a supposed schedule (unless it’s the C train, the slacker of the transit system) sometimes your morning bagel takes a little longer to toast, or you have an unexpected stop and chat, or it’s raining and you debated for too long to call in or not, or maybe (as you told your boss) the train truly was running late, and your morning is now officially in peril.
It happens far too often, and even though the MTA has updated platforms with arrival estimates, and support a host of apps to help, it wasn’t until the recently released MTA Subway Time app, that straphangers now have the ability to get real time train schedules.
The app currently supports 7 lines (1-6 and the 43nd S), and provides updated arrival times of the major lines as they occur. The arrival times include trains running in both all directions, and has data for both arriving and upcoming trains. Along with that, you also get the usual train routes, work updates, and all other information you would need in actually organizing your commute.
It’s not the world’s prettiest app, and is very basic in its current stage, but should still be immediately downloaded by any commuters of those lines, and really by all straphangers in anticipation of additional lines being added. Never before have commuters had this kind of accurate information available to them at any time, and the only reason it doesn’t feel more impressive is because it seems like something that should have been done long ago.
You can’t overstate how welcome this app is, and as the MTA chairman Joseph Lhota described it, represents a “day that generations of dreamers and futurists have waited for”. While I wish the app could give false updates to my boss that are more in line with my current, personal schedule, this miracle program arrives right in time to be named by app of the week.
Need a stylish, sophisticated “man bag”? An alternative to that backpack you’ve been using since college, or that boring briefcase you’ve been using in your endless attempt to look professional? Check out the new line of bags from Graf + Lantz.
This season, the designers have brought on additional styles to their iconic Juant Tote collection, fold-over styles and boats bags assortment. This Resort 2012 Graf + Lantz added a twist to their classic Parker bag, adding waxed canvas to the mix. This is a perfect all-around bag to bring on vacation — be it the Caribbean, Hawaii or Europe, you are sure to arrive in style with these classic head-turning totes.
Graf + Lantz are masters of color-blocking and mixing bold bright colors. For the Parker take horween leather straps, minimal Nickel hardware detailing, zip or magnetic closures, and pockets both in and out, these new pieces are 100% cotton waxed canvas. Utilizing the rare, intricate and age-old technique used by early mariners (before the age of heavy-duty water absorbent Nylon and PVC materials that took ages to dry), this process of impregnating cotton with a paraffin based wax, woven into cloth provides the utmost in waterproofing. These bags are not only ideal for those splendid yachting and sailing trips abroad, but they will also effortlessly transition into your day-to-day life.
Graf + Lantz have always been known for paying meticulous attention to form, function, detail and the highest qualities of handcrafting. The varied color combinations of olive, navy, rust, grey and natural gives this collection an astute sense of color, eye-catching visual appeal and clean lines.
For the purposes of this review, I tried the Carry On, made of merino felt with tan leather. To say the bag was well made was an understatement. And even though it was lightweight, flexible and easy to carry, it was tough. This is the perfect bag for the man in your life (or yourself if you happen to be the man in your life) who spends a lot of time travelling. The rectangular shape lends itself well to a laptop, business documents or magazines, and the inner pockets on opposing sides of the interior serve to hold smaller items like an MP3 player or various electronic accessories needed during travel. And on top of that, the bag just looks cool when you’re strolling through an airport or transit station.
The Graf + Lantz collection can be found at high-end boutiques and specialty stores nationwide, as well as major department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York. Also, feel free to review the entire collection at www.graf-lantz.com