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Preview: The Old City: Leviathan

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A city can be said to exist as much in the minds of its residents as it does in any geographical reality. Too expansive and complex for any one person to comprehend in its entirety, such is true of virtually any metropolis in the world today.

The social psychology of cities is one of the themes explored in M. John Harrison’s Viriconium stories; three novels and various short stories all set in or around the titular city. Another such theme is the subversion of a trope of fantasy fiction: secondary world-building, what Harrison himself memorably referred to as “the clomping foot of nerdism”. That is, the desire to map and categorise a fictional place: to cram into an appendix banal detail on the cultural customs of a made-up nation in a made-up world, to invent the language of elves or klingons, or to calculate the number of personnel required to man an Imperial Star Destroyer. Such concerns are by a long way secondary to the construction of story, but have often been elevated to great prominence thanks to a nerdish desire to catalogue, define and contain. So the argument goes.

I mention all of this because my early hours with The Old City: Leviathan brought it flooding back. First: Viriconium, a fictional city I’ve always found fascinating because it is simultaneously a cipher, a source of reflexive fiction, and the context in which some wonderful stories have been told. To remind me of that is high praise in my book. Second: the ineffable qualities of cities, such as the eponymous Old City – so old and so central that it becomes the only city. Thirdly: that the clomping foot of nerdism is the enemy of magic and mystery. What wonder remains when everything is explained to you in dry, tedious detail? That certainly does not happen here.

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First Look at Need for Speed Rivals: The Movie: The Script

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We didn’t think much of the Need for Speed film starring Aaron Paul when I wrote about it previously. Of course, demonstrating our inability to understand what the general public deem worthy of their money, the film has grossed $200 million worldwide.

A sequel has been greenlit to follow up on this success. It has been touted as the ‘Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift of the Need for Speed franchise’ by one insider, while another person close to the project said that the script was turning out ‘like a combination of What Dreams Might Come and The Machinist but with wicked ass cars’.

There has been mention that Darren Aronofsky (Noah, Black Swan) – currently taking a break from his gritty Police Academy reboot which appears to have a stalled because Steve Guttenberg is demanding more money – is set to helm the project if it gets off the ground.

Here at Arcadian Rhythms we were lucky enough to gain access to an early draft of the script, and have been allowed to go into some detail concerning plans for the film. For more info read on below the fold!

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Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

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To understand what makes Shadow of Mordor interesting, and in some ways very good, I have to go back to Hero Quest.

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Stupid Comment of the Month #6: totally not about gamergate

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We’ve not had a Stupid Comment of the Month since 2012. The topic does not often come up, and is usually helmed by Shaun, but this time round I am taking the reigns. It is going to be a bumper edition courtesy of a random guy off the internet.

In the last few weeks I have been slowly retreating from social media. After reading a piece by Laura Michet (not linked here due to the nature of this post) it struck me that I was spending too much time engaging in social media discussion that ultimately left me exhausted.

A comedian once said that mobile phones allow people to talk more about less and I utterly agree with that sentiment. I feel like the internet has caused me to have even fewer significant conversations and yet I’m more drained due to investing more time in those I do have.

However, when the following conversation started on a Facebook thread I really couldn’t resist breaking the silence.

Please note: we aren’t complete dicks, so identities have been obscured (with humorous pictures in some cases). Also, we have provided a translation for one of the members of the conversation. The text exists mostly in unedited form but we have included some non-stupid inline comments so as to give the rest of the discussion context. Screengrabs of the conversation were taken in two batches, on the night that the conversation started and the following afternoon just before the thread was deleted.

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Review: Vanquish

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Following the re-publication of my original Bayonetta review, here’s another piece I wrote for the now defunct ‘badgercommander’ site. This one is of another title from Platinum Games, Vanquish.

Last week I sat down and played Halo: Reach for the first time. The presentation is extremely slick, the multiplayer runs remarkably smoothly on my shitty connection and still succeeds in looking nice. You’d expect it to: the number of bodies working on this at Bungie was in the hundreds and the development time was well over two years. This is what you expect from a AAA title. Money spent on this game means that the visuals and presentation are always going to outstrip any other title that doesn’t have the same budget. Money = Polish.

This makes sense until you encounter Vanquish. The entire time I was playing I really couldn’t fathom it. How the fuck does this game play so well and look so good, yet be built on a comparatively small budget and in a shorter time scale than anything I would consider its peer?

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Review: Bayonetta

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With Bayonetta 2 due out for Wii U on October 23rd, I thought I would drag up a couple of pieces I wrote for the now defunct ‘badgercommander’ site.

Below is a revised copy of the article posted back in November 2010. The content has mainly been edited for ease of reading (back in the day I had no editor).

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