Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Playstation 3 Slim available 1 September for US$299

The new PS3 Slim comes with all the features of its predecessor except for the option to install the another OS. It is 32% smaller and consumes 34% less power than its predecessor. In addition, the slim version comes with a 120 GB HDD and a new Bravia Sync feature for use with Sony's Bravia TVs. It is available in less than two weekes from 1 September for US$299.

Prices for the existing 80GB PS3 have been slashed to US$299 with immediate effect. However, unless you really want a PS3 now or install another OS on it, I strongly recommend you to wait for the newer slim version.

Full PS3 slim pictures available here:

Best Controller/Gamepad for PC - Xbox 360 Controller

With the release of Street Fighter IV for the PC, many people have been asking about recommended controllers/gamepads for the PC. In my opinion, the Xbox 360 Controller is the best controller/gamepad for the PC for two main reasons:

1. Built
It has a very tough built, like most console controllers. It is the same wired controller used for the Xbox 360, so you can play your games the way it is meant to be played on a console, with vibration feedback support included. If you are trying to recreate the feeling of a console on your PC, nothing beats using an actual console controller.

2. Compatibility
An advantage of being a Microsoft product is excellent compatibility with Windows, especially for 64-bit OS users. Many newer games recognise the device and automatically configure the buttons and vibration feedback. This is much better than using third party converters/drivers for PS2/Ps3 controllers that don't always work for the game you want to play or take a long time to configure with limited functionality.

The Xbox 360 Controller is available at Play-Asia here.

Restaurant Empire 2 Mini-Guide

Having trouble with the game? I just finished this game a few days ago and have a few pointers to share on clearing the story campaign. Unfortunately, I did not take notes during my playthrough, so I am unable to provide specific help on the scenarios. Nevertheless, these pointers should be enough for you to clear the campaign.

The Goals
The game generally has 3 different types of goals: Profit, rating or contest goals. You are required to achieve all the main goals in a scenario in order to proceed with the story. Side goals are optional, so you can ignore them if you are having problems with the main goals. The 3 different types of goals and how to deal with them are explained further below.

Profit Goals
These can either be revenue or profit targets. Revenue targets are easier as you only need to focus on generating sales. You can do this by advertising or completing the 100% satisfaction targets. Profit targets are harder as you also need to manage your expenses as well. Expenses can generally be reduced by cutting on staff costs or maintenance costs. A good way to save on staff costs is to lower their salaries by a few points when the morale is high. The morale points regenerate every month and you can continue doing it until eventually the wage is at the minimum. Maintenance costs can be reduced by removing unused equipment and excess tables. This is quite important for larger restaurants; sometimes it is not practical to fully furnish two floors of a restaurant if only one floor is used most of the time.

Rating Goals
Food and satisfaction rating goals are most common in the game. Food ratings can be improved by sending your best chefs to the targeted restaurant and also by removing lowly rated dishes from the menu. If there is sufficient time, you can let your chefs improve on their own by letting them cook more. Adventure mode items that increase the skills of your chef can be useful too. For satisfaction ratings, you also need to look into the skills of your service staff and if necessary, train or hire better staff.
Other rating goals include enviroment and restaurant star ratings, which are self explanatory in the game. Focus on the aspects that you are lacking and you should be able to meet them. One thing I found out about the decoration rating is that every item counts only once, so you can't boost your decoration rating by spamming the same item.

Contest Goals
These goals require you to win various cooking competitions. Besides having skilled chefs, you'll also need to have highly rated recipes. You can obtain good recipes by research or purchasing them from customers. Preferably, you should have a few highly rated recipes of each cuisine. Focus on having one chef in each restaurant master those recipes first by assigning them to cook it. This way, you should be well prepared for any competition that comes along. Again, adventure mode items that increase the skills of your chef are useful here.

Other Tips
If you have been playing well, you shouldn't have problems meeting the goals quickly. However, sometimes you may want to drag the scenario longer to accumulate more cash which can make subsequent scenarios easier. Moreover, adventure mode events seem to only trigger on the first month of each scenario, so having more cash at the beginning of the scenario definitely helps. Adventure mode events, in particular the supplier contracts, are quite useful, so you may even want borrow from the bank ahead just to have enough cash to spend on adventure mode events.

I hope you have found this mini-guide useful. Bon appetit!

Hooking up your PS3 to your PC Monitor

The PC monitor can be a good alternative HD display for those who already own a large LCD monitor but not a HDTV or have no room for a HDTV. This article explains some of the technical issues connecting your PS3 to a LCD monitor.

1. Monitor Size
The size of your monitor usually determines the resolution it can output. The maximum resolution of the monitor is important as it determines the HD output it can support. The monitor must be able to display a resolution of at least 1280x720 for 720p output and at least a resolution of 1920x1080 for 1080p output. This usually means that 19"-22" widescreen monitors can support up to 720p output while those 24" and above can support up to 1080p.

One thing to note is that most PC monitors are 16:10 aspect ratio while HD output resolutions are 16:9 aspect ratio. This slight difference results in the picture being stretched slightly vertically to fill the entire screen. Some monitors have settings to correct this such as 1:1 pixel mapping or aspect mode, allowing the picture to be displayed in 16:9 aspect ratio with two small black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

HDCP must be supported by your monitor in order for it to output video from the PS3. This is more of an issue with older monitors as most new monitors out there support HDCP.

3. Monitor Inputs
Most monitors have both a VGA and DVI input, with more and more models supporting HDMI input. VGA cable output is not officially supported on the PS3, so the use of third party VGA cables is not recommended and can be costly. For connecting to the PS3, HDMI is the preferred mode of connection as all you need is a simple HDMI cable. Monitors without HDMI input will need a HDMI to DVI cable. DVI input is basically similar to HDMI, but without the sound signal.

Some higher end models support component input, but since those models also have HDMI and DVI inputs, they should be preferred over component as the image quality is better. If you are looking for cables, Play-Asia has a decent HDMI cable here and HDMI to DVI cable here.

4. Sound
Because most monitors do not have speakers, you'll need a way to connect your speakers for sound. This is one of the main issues when hooking up your PS3 to your PC monitor. If you have a receiver, you can hook it up with a HDMI or optical cable for sound. Some higher end speakers support optical input as well. You can get a cheap optical cable here. For most people however, the easiest way is to use the RCA cables that came with the PS3 to connect your speakers. You may need a 3.5mm to RCA F adapter cable to connect those cables to 3.5mm audio jack input speakers.

Finally, when everything is connected. You'll need to configure your PS3 to output video and sound on the correct cables. The configuration settings can be found under System Settings, one for Video and another for Audio. The process should be self explanatory.

Is Buying a HDTV Better?
Hooking up your PS3 to your PC monitor is slightly more difficult than hooking it up to a TV because of the separate video and sound signals, so it is not recommended for everyone. Monitors are also smaller than TVs and may not be suitable for playing at a distance. It is more suited for people who already own a large monitor and want it to double up as a PS3 display instead of buying a HDTV. In those cases, the investment of a few cheap cables make it worthwhile.

Outrun Online Arcade: Getting the Cardiogram Trophy


Score an overall AAA in Heart Attack Mode.

Finally got the Cardiogram trophy taking the GOAL A path (LEFT, LEFT, LEFT, LEFT). Wasted hours trying to get it through the GOAL D path (LEFT, RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT) but just couldn't get AAA for the Ice Scape stage. Switched to GOAL A and got it in 2 attempts. What a relief!

Here are some tips on how to get the trophy for those who are having problems:

I find the LEFT, LEFT, LEFT, LEFT or LEFT, RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT paths to be easier for this achievement. Do it on VERY EASY difficulty for lots of time on the clock.


1st Stage: Sunny Beach
The two challenges are easy and there shouldn't be any problems with them.

2nd Stage: Bay Area
The first part requires you not to hit anything, including the walls. Hitting anything will result you in getting AA even when you filled your heart meter. You should be able to find path through the centre with some minor adjustments. Slow down if you have to, you won't be penalised for that. The second part requires you to collect as many coins as possible. Position your car straight up the gold coins and then make a minor adjustment to the right to hit the whole bunch of coins in the middle. You should be able to get enough coins for AAA. The final part should be easy.

3rd Stage: Waterfall
The first part requires you to run through blue, which should be easy. Slow down by letting off the gas button if you need to adjust your car. The second part requires you to hit all of the blue cones, which can be tricky if you are running at high speed. Instead, I shfit down/brake to below 100 km/h just before the cones and slowly steer to hit all of them. There should be more than enough time for that. The final part should be easy.

4th Stage: Lost City
This stage is one special request to beat all the cars (8 total) in a race. Just race as normal and you shouldn't have any problems getting 1st place.

Final Stage: Giant Statues
The first part requires you to hit all the blue cones, so slow down to a crawl like in Stage 3 and you should be able to slowly hit them all. The second part is requires you to go through all the gates, which is similar to the cones if not easier. Slow down and go through the gates at your leisure. Finally, the final part requires you to hit all the cones while drifting, which is the hardest part of the entire route. Fortunately, the angle of the drift is a small 'S' and not too difficult to hit. Try practicing a few times or watch some videos on Youtube for the turn angle if you are having trouble. Clear that part and the trophy is yours.


Quite a number of people have gotten their trophy with this path. This path is an alternative for people who hate to hit cones. The first two stages are the same as the previous path.

3rd Stage: Big Forest
The first part requires you to hit enough ghosts to fill your heart meter. The eaiest way to do this is to drop a gear down to get better control of your car, letting go of the gas button when necessary. Your speed should be sufficiently fast for you to hit more than enough ghosts. It may be harder to do this on AT. The second part requires you to drift through red, which should be easy.

4th Stage: Ice Scape
The entire stage is one special request to overtake as many convoy trucks as possible. This is the hardest part of the whole route, as the trucks are big and difficult to navigate around, especially in the tunnel. My suggestion is to plan your driving line around the corners and trucks and hopefully get past enough trucks for AAA. I had a lot of frustration with this one.

Final Stage: Milky Way
The entire stage is one special request to collect as many stars as possible. Fortunately, this one is much easier than the previous one. Simply reduce your speed to mid-100 km/h and slowly collect all the stars. Switch from the left to the right path midway as it seems to net more stars. You should be able to get enough stars to fill your heart meter for AAA provided that you don't crash.

Update: A detailed video guide on taking this path is available on Youtube here. It's very well done and covers all the points mentioned above.

I hope you find this guide useful in obtaining your trophy. Feel free to suggest more tips in the comments.

Choosing the Right Cable for your PS3

The PS3 comes with a standard composite AV cable that does not support high definition (HD) video output. HDTVs are getting more common these days, and if you want to make the most out of it with your PS3, you'll need to purchase a better cable. The common connectivity options for your PS3 are explained below.

1. Composite

This is the default cable that comes with your PS3. Outputs at standard defnition (SD). If you play on a SDTV that only has composite input, you'll have to make do with this.

2. S-Video

S-Video produces better quality video signals than the composite cable, but is still limited to SD output. If you have a S-Video compatible SDTV that does not support component input (see below), this is the best you can get. You find a cheap one at Play-Asia here.

3. Component

Component supports both SD and HD outputs, up to 1080p (Full HD). At SD output, component produces better quality video signals than S-Video. At HD outputs though, HDMI (see below) is preferred. Still, some older HDTVs may not support HDMI, and you may have to make do with component for your HD output in that case. A cheap one is available from Play-Asia here.


HDMI is the standard for HD output now, and almost all current HDTVs support it. This is the preferred video output choice for HD gaming. HDMI also transmits digital audio signals that can be passed through a receiver for 7.1 sound (Dobby Digital/DTS). There is no need to buy premium HDMI cables and a normal one will do just as good a job. Play-Asia has a cheap and good HDMI cable here.

5. Optical Cable

This is not a video cable but a sound cable. It transmits digital audio signals that can be passed through a receiver for 5.1 sound (Dobby Digital/DTS), similar to HDMI. Note that the lower bandwidth of optical compared to HDMI limits the output to 5.1 (Dobby Digital/DTS) or 2.0 PCM. This should not be a problem for users though. Using either a HDMI or optical cable hooked up to a receiver will give you a much better sound quality compared to RCA (red and white) audio cables. You can get a cheap optical cable here.

In summary (in decending order of quality):
For video: HDMI > Component > S-Video > Composite
For sound: HDMI or Optical > RCA

I hope you find this short article useful. Do show your support by clicking on my affiliate links above if you need to purchase a cable.

First Post

Welcome to our gaming blog, where we will be bringing you articles from our casual gaming lifestyle in the coming weeks. We are just getting started, so do check back often for new content.

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