Notice: Cubed3 are no longer accepting new reader blogs (as of 17th January 2015). Existing blog entries will be available to read, archived below.

Misc.

Just some things that don't really fit into any thread, mainly because I've been out of the loop for a fair few months:


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Sonic Classic Collection for DSSmilieSmilieSmilie - Game of 2010? If the ports are sensitively handled, this could be the finest compilation package ever. No filler. All cream. No Spinball or 3D. No Mean Bean Machine. Not even 'damnit I really want to like this but the whole time-travel thing feels clunky-old and Sonic's jump doesn't sound right' Sonic CD. Just the absolute creme de menthe. Will kill all other DS games dead.

I played a bit of Assassin's Creed II round a mate's the other day and was simply blown away. I was in Venice a couple of years ago and got to explore the city. Ubisoft have nailed it. Geographically it's spot-on, but it's not just that. GTA IV had that scope, but Ubisoft's attention to detail makes Liberty City look drab and uninviting. Every single window ledge and outcrop, every little thing you see can be grabbed. It's astonishing. I played the first game for a bit, and while the animation attracted me, I got bored quickly. The sequel has shown me the first sandbox I'm genuinely fascinated by, in a tactile way. Perhaps it's the beauty of the setting, or maybe because I've been there and I'm getting a kick out of the accuracy. But I've been to NY too. It's the space itself that's grabbing me. Fable II had a similar effect, presenting such beautiful environments, but I felt the character animation let it down, with my guy 'skating' through rather than planting his feet. I'm on a hiatus from games, but Eizo will be first on the list when I come back.

Also tried Street Fighter IV. I've realised that I'm just shite at beat-em-ups. Really pretty bad. I think it's because I can never be bothered to invest the time in learning long button combos but I can't quite bring myself to button-bash. So I end up in this middle-ground, supremely ineffective even on Easiest. That said, it's the best game of its genre I've played, it looks delicious, and I'm in love with Crimson Viper. Moundlicious.

This'll be my last blog. I'll post a couple more times, but soon I'll scarper for good. Cheers to you guys who've voted in the GotD polls, even though they've got a bit screwed up. The end result isn't really the point - just reminding people that there's a wealth of older games they might have missed and they'll never be cheaper than they are now is the pointSmilie Hopefully one or two of you have been moved to hit ebay or your local retro-shop. You'll never have more time to play them than you do now. I picked up Shadow of the Colossus a few months back, 20 quid brand-new. Seems to be the going rate. I'm still on the lookout for Ico. I have no consoles set up right now and I don't have a PS2, but hey, when I do! I saw Kingdom Heart II for a fiver today. Almost picked it up. Might do at the end of the week if it's still there. Not that I'll ever get round to playing it. But still!...

Irritations

Now Playing: Jet Set Radio

- 'imo'. The absolute pinnacle of the bloody obvious. Everything you write is your opinion (thank fuck - I'd shoot myself if most of the guff on here was fact). Stop qualifying everything with 'imo' - you sound like a tool. And don't then say 'but its down to personal preference'. OF COURSE IT FUCKING IS! There are people in this world that buy and enjoy SONIC GAMES - there are people who will genuinely fool themselves into thinking The Conduit is on a par with Half-Life and Halo and CoD4 - people enjoy lots of fucking awful/average things. If you're going to state your opinion at least give it some thought and have the balls to follow through with it.

- that ebay phenomenon, the Dance of the Bidders in the Final Minute.

- how lonely Wii-owners are desperately trying to convince themselves that they're enjoying The Conduit far more than they actually are.

- Shia LaBeouf.

- that Brawl is currently top of the '08 GOTD poll when Melee has already taken a massive lead in the '02 poll. They are the same game. They've taken Melee, dazzled you with a bazillion unlockable stickers and doo-hickeys, thrown in a few new characters and BAM. You're lapping it up. Don't give me bullshit about the music being great. And the online is so shite it doesn't warrant mentioning. A multi-format poll on a Nintendo forum may have been wishful thinking on my part. Plenty of time left so please make sure Brawl isn't top come december.

- when people ask for game suggestions then ignore everything you recommend.

- babies screaming in pushchairs. The satisfaction of dropkicking the little bastards would be considerable.

- people with time on their hands writing bile-filled blogs to be read by a handful of pasty 14 year olds. Christ I'm depressed.

A bunch of quincunx

Now Playing: Escape From Monkey Island

Through a series of unremembered links I found myself reading THIS, which lead me onto the infamous Face-Off.

I'm not one to stoke the fanboy fires - there's more than enough of that BS to fill ten-thousand internetz -but I've always found the Face-Off articles interesting. They explain the technical reasons behind the visuals (which interests me) and dispense with the bull-crap, showing the cold-hard facts, whatever the result.

Ghostbusters on the PS3 looks ropey, to the point where you don't need a side-by-side comparison. Vaseline on the lens really isn't much of an exaggeration. I won't repeat the article, look out for the arcade machine early in the vid - an example of the 1/4 of textures that they've melted for the PS3.

If you blindly wanted to defend the PS3 version you could argue that the blur softens the odd jaggy that the anti-aliasing can't quite manage - things like organics (look at Slimer and the human faces) and curved surfaces. But the overall loss of resolution is a ridiculous price to pay for that 1% jaggy reduction. Because let's face it - they're still there, they're just under several layers of crap.

This isn't a dig at the Playstation. I've greatly warmed to the PS3 as Sony have begun focussing on what actually matters. Now they're stuck with the hardware for a good few years and I'm looking forward to what they turn out when they're not trying to rule my life.

I'm looking forward to the game, even if it is a bit average. If it has the same atmosphere as the films (yes, the second one too) then my nostalgia and big grin will fill in any holes left by the gameplaySmilie I was just a bit taken aback that this is still happening, especially with Sony having such control over the franchise.

Question - thinking of starting a Best Movie License Games Thread. But is this a movie license game???

This is a little blog to try and rekindle some interest for a game I reckon deserves it - Forza 2.

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I'm not a big gearhead. I love the sensation of driving, I can appreciate a great car and a sexy engine, but I couldn't name every variation on the 911. I tried to trade Forza in once, but they wouldn't take it because of the 'Bundle Only' label on the front. I was forced to revisit it and since then (around 18 months ago) it's been an evergreen game.

There're loads of things I like about it. It has a personality and style that sets it apart from the deathly dull and serious Gran Turismo. If you want to go into massive depth you can, but you're not penalised for your ignorance of gearbox ratios or locked differentials. There's not an easy or hard mode - everyone has the same career - but you can tailor it to suit your ability. Confident drivers can incrementally turn off the assists and simulation damage and be rewarded with percentage increases in their winnings. Players who depend on the racing-line aren't punished with locked areas and cars - their level progression is simply delayed slightly. Most importantly, drivers looking to improve have the ability to tweak different assists. I have recently begun driving with a manual transmission. This gets me a 5% increase on winnings, but obviously it's more challenging, so I've knocked the AI difficulty down from Hard to Easy to give myself some breathing space. It's giving me the opportunity to learn and get better, but it's not harming my progression through Career mode. Now that I'm more proficient I've put the AI back up to Medium.

I've never been able to use Manual in any driving game before. Forza allows you to map the gearshift to the right-stick (which by default is the free camera-look stick). Not only does this keep your otherwise bored right thumb occupied (ie. not toying with the 'suicide stick' mid-race), but it feels so much more natural for gear changes than the usual gear-up/gear-down face buttons. It just seems to make sense, from a driving point of view.

Driving in manual opens up the game incredibly. Now, if I'm sliding round a corner, instead of braking ineffectually and careering into the rough I've got the opportunity to shift down a gear and get some traction, accelerating out of trouble. Of course it's better not to get into those situations at all, but having options in the way I get out of it is revelatory. Suddenly it's become a driving game as opposed to the cornering game it was. The Aston I'm driving becomes so much more enjoyable when I can see and feel it reacting to my own driving style, keeping the needle in the red for just that second longer before shifting up. Yes, I'm still ballsing-up, but it feels more satisfying now - it's my own bad driving, as opposed to my boredom when pushing and misjudging the braking distance of the red corner arrows.

It actually brings you much closer to the car. Forza is good at demonstrating differences in handling of the cars, and a manual gearbox just accentuates that. Now I've started emptying the HUD. I found that constantly having the speedo on the right distracted me as I checked the gear - you don't need it. Just as on a bike, you can hear what gear you're in and feel when you need to change. The only thing I have on the HUD now is the split times flashing up occasionally. Otherwise the screen's empty. Ahhh, peace. Just me and the road. I don't even know what lap I'm on half the time, which is great because I'm renowned for racing 9 flawless laps then bottling the very final corner and losing the race after 15 long minutesSmilie

Getting rid of all that on-screen periphery really drives home the main point of the game - the driving (funny that). No grid-place to monitor, no map to glance at - just get in the car and drive the best you can. Maybe you need to drive in real life to really connect with it. Turn 10 have made something enduringly satisfying. If you've got a copy knocking around that hasn't been played since you got the console, fire it up. If you haven't and are remotely interested in driving, cars or racing games, you can pick it up dirt-cheap right now. Give it some time and it pays you back richly. It's one of my favourite 360 games actually. High praise.

Game-related 'monkey business

Now Playing: 'just. one. more. Search and Destroy...'

Does anyone read blogs anymore? They're kind of pugged away down in the corner, the last thing you get to when you're trawling the site for an updated post on those busy, sitting-near-internet-connection days. I get the feeling I'm repeating myself. Maybe I've started a blog like this before. Anyway, game related things I have done presented in idiot-friendly bullet-points. Managed to squeeze quite a bit in:

- Finished Lost Winds, fantastic little game. Calming after I've fuelled my Call of Duty addiction. You'd think I'd be less crap really. I like to blame my penchant for the shotgun, meaning I have to get up nice and close and often sacrifice myself in pursuit of the sexy kill. Everyone else blames my general shiteness.
- Cubed3 reviews get on Metacritic I see.
- Finished Gears co-op. What I liked: Hammer of Dawn; chainsaw on your rifle; Cole is hilarious; looks good. What I didn't like: everything else. Epic are to be admired for stretching the tech, but Gears is overrated and clunky as hell. The less said about Cliff..., Cli..., nope, can't bring myself to say it.
- Got Sands of Time for the Xbox, not far off finishing it. Very enjoyable, but dated. Great ADR.
- I'm halfway through Crysis. Aliens have just frozen this lab I was in. Getting a little bit tired of FPSs now. Need to shift genres and give them a rest for a while.
- And Banjo will be the breath of fresh air I'm after! Ah Banjo. There’ll be no excuse for anyone not to have played the original at all because it's freely downloaded with every Nuts and Bolts preorder from selected retail outlets. I shall poo on your sleeping forehead if you ignore this incredibly generous deal.
- Got my DC VGA cable so have played a little bit of Sega Rally 2. Feels good.
- I started Chibi-Robo a couple of months ago, and haven't returned to it yet. Was a bit repetitive - hoping it will introduce some variety.
- Happy about Pikmin 2 coming to Wii. Had the original and stupidly sold it because it lacks replay value. Is a perfect little gaming slice though, and would like another run through when I next see it cheap.
- I've got Shenmues 1&2 waiting for me when I’ve got the time and stomach for them.
- Nearly finished my epically great Sonic canvas. Might be ready by Christmas, if I get the time. Then I shall unveil it and you shall covet my ass, etc.

Lots of stuff. Busy busy busy. Also I've got a Play-Asia coupon for $5 off when you spend $50 or more. I know it's a piss in the ocean, but if you're buying stuff anyway it's better than a carnivorous insect in your ear. Code is: TY-LMO-ZFY. Expires 15th Nov. Knock yourself out.

artmonkey+d=

Now Playing: Galaxy

Bonjour tout la monde.

My gamertag is 'dartmonkey'. Some git had already bagged 'artmonkey', and 'artmonkey I' just didn't feel right (is it an L or a 1? Oh... he's gone Roman on our ass. Whaddaprick). How can people stand being 'something93'? I wanted one word. And after trying my Frenchy trick over at W8 (the apostrophe wouldn't appear damnit!), I kinda like dartmonkey. If you wanted to add me and you're not a tool, I'd probably accept. Was quite nice going on yesterday and seeing that I had two people who wanted to be my friend. AhhhhSmilieSmilie Word to Sly and Spritegirl. In a few months I might be getting broadband that isn't shiteSmilie

Also I completed Half-Life 2. Fan-fucking-tastic.

artmonkey's Question Time

Now Playing: Half-Life 2 - driving the coast road, splatting bugs

Good evening and welcome.

Christmas was interrupted by a techno-mishap of my own doing. With my battery power ailing and the completion bar seemingly frozen I committed the cardinal sin of Force Quitting during a system update. My mac wasn't having any of it and refused to start up until some nice chap at the Apple Store plugged his do-dah into it, reinstalled the update and fired her up again. I forgave her, it was my fault really. Textbook schoolboy error.

Having been internetless for over a week I was able to play some of the games I have piling up. I have a beautiful mound that will keep me going for hundreds of hours to come. Got some decent games too (boom-boom).

Of my 360 selection Bioshock is the only one I've completely... completed. PGR4 is still going strong, and I've still only scratched the paintwork of Forza. Viva Pinata has been sorely neglected after 2 short sessions a couple of months ago, while new xmas additions Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3 have both seen little action. Most recently I've been trying to make a dent in the Orange Box. I'm currently throwing my gravitas around as Gordon in Half-Life 2. Those spidery meatbag things really shit me up. It's a quality game - took its time to grow on me, but it's really something. I can imagine that many people will be jealous that I've still got Episodes 1 and 2 ahead of me, not to mention a few hours more of this one. Fan-bloody-tasticSmilie

I've been finding multiplayer a bit too complicated with this newer generation. You can't just hook up another pad and start the shooting, you've got to make a profile, then sign in, then sign out if you want to do time trials, then log back in... fuck me. I realise that the situation changes depending on the game, but the attractiveness of Wii's simple pick-up-and-play-ability was really highlighted after fucking about with the 360's gamertag profile shit. I did miss the old N64 days.

Having said that, we got some Call of Duty 4 deathmatches going and they were a treat. With some clever arena choices and appropriate weaponage we had some tense bloody fun that I haven't experienced since those Goldeneye days. Lovely.

Another quick opinion - Halo 3 looks lovely. Really great. Don't know why I was surprised. Perhaps because I'd only heard it described as 'workman-like'. But it really is a thing of beauty. Have given it a rest while I burn through City 17, but the campaign was beginning to get interesting on some burnt-out African highway. Looking forward to going back.

Also I'm only 40 stars into Galaxy. The Wii got a good pounding over xmas too. Sports is still going strong. Boxing is satisfying. Endless Ocean sits unplayed. Not its fault. But it was never going to get a look in with all these other titans of gaming lying round the place. Maybe one day I've investigate. One day a long way away. Possibly.

I also gave Sega Rally a whirl on my dad's PS3 (bless him). Cracking little game, impressive mud and lovely sliding. Can someone please tell me why the splitscreen is split vertically though? It's shit, really shit. You cannot see a fucking thing when cornering. What goit forgot to whack a horizontal option in there? Still it's the best thing Sega have done in a good while.

I am soon getting a sexy new monitor. Will eventually go with a sexy computer, but I'm getting the monitor first. 24 inches of 1900x1200 black multiple-inputted 1:1 pixel-mapped HD gorgeousness. Yum.

And now to the questions of the title:

1. My new monitor has a component input so I'll be running my Wii through it. Has anyone got any recommendations for where to get the cable? Is official the best or does it make no difference?

2. I'm looking to rip DVD stuff to mp4 and H.246 or 264 or whatever so I can play stuff on my new Pod. I'm looking here because I can't be arsed to fuck about hunting down freeware. That is unless someone can suggest something? Must be iPod Touch compatible though.

3. Is anyone else a bit pissed off that you can't do splitscreen multiplayer on TF2? You can't knock the Orange Box, it's just frustrating that I've got this awesome game sitting there that's inaccessible because of my snail's pace broadband.


Oh yes, and Happy New Yizzle. I would have posted, but SuperLink already replied to everythingSmilie

Samus or Gordon?

Now Playing: PGR4 & Phantom Hourglass
Now Watching: Just finished Life on Mars

In Asda Metroid is

PGRPhworrrrr...

Apologies for the embarrassing blog title.

I picked up PGR4 yesterday and I need to vent my awe somewhere. It's just... beautiful. Everything looks so.... It looks like Forza does in replay mode after it's been sexed-up with some post-processing effects.

The animation on the riders is stunning. They shift about in their seat, they turn the throttle, shift gears, stretch their legs when they've been in one position for too long. I don't understand anyone who's criticised the inclusion of bikes. Once you've adjusted to the two wheels they hold their own magnificently. Plus they're cooler than cars in every way.

And the cities! Racing round a geographically accurate London is amazing, and it looks so great. Perhaps shinier than reality - there's not a pane of glass that doesn't reflect sky/buildings/vehicles - but incredibly realised. I was racing along the Embankment, up round Parliment Square, along Whitehall past the Horseguards, into Trafalgar Square and back down Northumberland Ave to the river. In a Delorean:cooldude: Fuck yeah.

Infact, my only criticisms are the shitty 'Rock' selection on the playlist - they got de-selected immmediately - and the fact that the vehicles sometimes appear to be gliding along an inch above the road. There doesn't seem to be much spray in wet conditions, your wheels don't leave trails in the water and the tarmac remains pretty undisturbed by the friction of your tyres, whatever the conditions. It's hypercritical, but when everything else is nigh-on perfect it's all the more detectable.

I'm not one to usually wank over GOODGRAPHX or whatever SuperLink calls 'em, but fuck me. This one must have a lot of those DX10sSmilie

Time for a 360? artmonkey's first fortnight with his shiny Elite

Admit it. With the 360 price cuts and the lack of quality software for Wii, you

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