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mondoben Blog

The New GameSpot

So after several years of discussion, 12 months of planning and 8 solid months of design and build we finally have a new GameSpot, something i as a user have been waiting for a little under 15 years when i started using the website. If you'd told me that i'd be one-day responsible for our global content then i wouldn't have believed you, i was working in a record shop in Brighton and dreaming of building a career in film/tv. Web video was yet to take off and the idea of a website built with video in mind was just a pipe-dream. But here we are with a video-centric, kick-ass GameSpot set for a new generation of consoles and gaming. Right now the future seems incredible exciting - new consoles from Sony and Microsoft, Steam Machines, an indie-game revolution which is transforming the way we buy, share and play games...virtual reality that actually works! I hope that you like what we have built so far but let me assure you this is only the beginning - our fantastic team want to make this site and its content genuinely world-class in everything we do and we want you to be part of that success. thanks for coming along for the last 17 years, we hope you'll be here for many gaming years to come....

ICC Ashes Series - 4th and 5th Test

Ok, the Ashes may have gone for real in Australia, and England may be starring down the double humiliation of both losing the series, and a 5-0 Series whitewash but I spent the xmas break from work trying to regain some pride for my digital team of brave English heroes. To recap, I was 2-1 down in the series and my carefully thought through plans were amounting to very little success on the pitch. To counter act this I fancied playing a bit fast and loose in the 4th test and decided to radically amend the team.

Michael Vaughn is brought back to captain the side and a whole host of players are dropped completely (Mahmood, Chris Jones, Strauss). This enables me to fill the team with players who either I’ve never heard of, or have about as much chance of getting in the actual England team as I do. I would love to tell you that this radical shake-up of English cricket had such a brilliant result that Duncan Fletcher, having read this blog, had called me up begging for me to share my superior and brilliant cricket strategy. Unfortunately it ended, and we’ll keep this brief, with an innings defeat for England and Shane Warne celebrating his impending retirement with 12 wickets across 2 innings…a poor show, the ashes lost, and my conclusion that Cricket coaching may not be the long term career option I’d hoped for.

So Sydney for the final test and an attempt to play for some pride. I decide to bring back the team that had served me so well in the second test and after winning the toss we decide to bat first. Once again Trescothick and Strauss do the business with a wonderful opening partnership of 130 and this is aided by another century from Peterson who seems to be smacking the ball all over the place. Harmison is also back to his best and after dismissing Ponting and Gillchrist gets England to a first innings lead of 250 runs. The second Innings doesn’t fair as well with Australia having to only chase 130 runs for the win. Fortunately for us Hoggard and Harmison once again come to the rescue (hell even Peterson took a wicket) and we win by 25 runs – an exciting end to the series that sees us lose the ashes 3-2.

To be honest I think I’ve played enough ICC for a while, it was great fun but combining my real life depression of losing the ashes series so badly (and at least I did better than the real England team) was only compounded by not being able to correct things in the digital game. Still I lost 3-2 and Duncan Fletcher looks like he may lose 5-0……who would you rather trust the England team to??

ICC Ashes Series - 3rd Test

Apologies for any lack of enthusiasm in the writing of this blog entry. It’s hard for me to muster much excitement about cricket today as I’ve just witnessed England sinking 3-0 down to Australia and losing the Ashes. On the upside, I can at least salvage a degree of pride from my fictional version of the England Cricket team. Yes, I can create a world where Freddy is on top form with both the bat and ball, where Geraint Jones can score runs and catch, and where an Australian team might actually have some visible weakness.

As you may recall, my fictional Ashes is currently levelled at 1-1 after a fantabulous fight back by my England heroes at Brisbane. I decide to keep the same team for this time around with some minor adjustments. My real life annoyance with Duncan Fletcher’s faith in Geraint Jones ensures he remains excluded from my team and if only the real life manager had followed my expert lead and played Monty earlier, perhaps we wouldn’t be in this situation…oh never mind, it’s only a game right?

Anyway, back to the “real” game of animated stats and I’m finding my enthusiasm’s beginning to wane. I recklessly rush through the first innings, not bothering to change my field settings and using the same bowlers until they drop to the ground of exhaustion. By the time we get through to the second innings I’m trailing Australia by 250 runs and facing a not entirely dissimilar situation to the real life England team. At least I can tell myself that if I lose this it’s only 2-1. The onslaught continues, as does my general apathy towards cricket of any type, and I lose rather two easily and with a general cloud of gloom that has merely compounded my own real-life cricket misery. 2-1 down…..bring on the Boxing Day test….bah-humbug!

Gamespot - ICC Ashes Challenge - Second Test

Well it seems as though my hopeless First Test was an ominous omen to the harsh reality of the real Ashes series. It’s never easy being an English sports-fan and the depressing inevitability of seeing your team slump to defeat is only made worse by the fact that you’ve not slept properly for several days as you try and keep up with events on the other side of the world. Still, no sooner has my sleep pattern returned to normal then it’s back into the fray as we head to Adelaide in both the real world, and the world of our GSUK ICC Ashes challenge.

After my rather embarrassing defeat in Brisbane I was faced with a dilemma. Stick with the same bunch of players who had so grievously let me down first time around, or make the radical changes needed by both my digital team and the flesh and blood national team. Keeping largely the same players, but this time with two spinners, we take to the field desperate to pull it back to 1-1 in the series. My tactics this time involve really taking the game to the Australians and playing a game of all out attack

I set an incredibly aggressive field with men all around the bat and get an additional stroke of luck as I win the toss. With Trescothick back to his best and Strauss having finally found form we knock up and impressive first innings total of 560 (ok not as impressive as Australia actually achieved in Brisbane but still).

Luckily having spent a little more time with the England bowling coach my virtual Harmison starts the game firing on all cylinders and takes two wickets in four overs. With some additional help from Hoggard and a bit of spin from Monty we have bowled out the Convicts on day two for a wonderful 450….

Our success continues over the next four days and it’s a joy to behold as all the boys pitch in and manage to beat the Australians by 87 runs, ok not the humiliating whipping I was hoping to dish out in revenge but I’m satisfied with levelling the series 1-1….Now all I need is for the actual team to do the same this weekend. Please I can take tired….but tired and depressed really hurts.

Gamespot - ICC Ashes Challenge - First Test

I have a secret. You can keep your online gaming, throw away your motion control sensor, bin that Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. Yes…. I am a ICC fan and I love to watch my poorly rendered, stat driven cricket team as they beep into battle against the old enemy, the Australians. It’s hard to explain the appeal of ICC to anyone unaccustomed to the world of detailed management sims or fantasy sports leagues. As a cricket lover I have a hard enough time explaining my deep love of a game that often lasts 5 days and ends in a draw, so imagine the difficulty trying to explain a cricket management sim in which any “in-game” action is limited to a few poorly animated sprites and a ball that looks suspiciously square.

So to my team and selection, a key part of any Ashes challenge…In brief, I decide to drop the out of form Giles (although keep him in the squad and assign him a physio), Chris Reed gets the nod at keeper over the “butter fingers” of Geraint Jones, Trescothick, having not gone mad in the game world is kept in the side (although the option of assigning him a shrink is not provided); and in a pathetic concession to my wife I give the call up to Mark Ramprakash because his “Jive was good last Saturday on Strictly Come Dancing”.

After a bit of practice in the nets (and some catching practice for Monty Panesar) we head of to The Gabba for the first test and the pressure seems to show as we lose the toss and Australia bat to an impressive 130 for 1 at lunch. With Hoggard and Harmison bowling with little result it’s time for a bit of Spin, so Monty steps up and manages to drop a couple of quick wickets. After Flintoff has a couple of overs and makes his way through to the Australian middle order the fight-back has pulled England back into the game, and Australia down to an average 220 for 6.

As our fast bowlers polish off the tail end of the Aussies for 359, we are left with a difficult task of getting back into the game. Unfortunately all does not go well. My selection of the svelt-hipped Ramprakash back-fires as he goes for a duck and Flintoff’s triumphant return to the England side is cut short by a frankly pathetic 4 runs……and I’m starting to suspect that Tresco needs more time with the psychiatrist as he smacks it straight back into the hands of tubby spin bowler Shane Warne.

By the end of the match I have been roundly beaten by an impressive 8 wickets and 180 runs, and I am starting to regret agreeing to blog about it for the site. Still….this is England, the fight is not lost yet, and I have just the right amount of self-delusion to believe I can still retain the ashes…..and so to the second Test.