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Top 10 Fantasy Towns

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GeekOut Top 10s

Even an elf needs a place to hang his cap. Despite the dragons wheeling in the sky, the floating towers of magic and the strange and terrible goings-on beyond the walls the occupants of a fantasy world have normal lives to lead, to meet, trade, live and work. These places can take on a life of their own, and rightly so. If you’re going to be sticking around you might as well enjoy yourself, get to know the place.

Come get to know some of the best towns from fantastic settings. Be they overrun by gremlins, demons or supervillains, so long as they fit the definition of town we considered them for this week’s Top 10 Fantasy Towns.


Top 10

10) Pallet Town – Pokemon

Pallet Town, one of the most recognisable names on our list, is all the way down at number 10! It’s a bit of a shocking turn of events, but it’s really hard to put Pallet Town any higher than number 10. You see, whilst it’s truly memorable and it says ‘town’ in the name, we were debating the point of what a town is for ages. Lavender Town was closer to a town, but eventually, we turned to Pallet Town – As there’s an important point to be made.

It’s hard to explain this one, but I believe there is an authority figure who acts as a type of governing body for the tiny pokey town. Professor Oak, who seems to send people on epic quests, must fund the kids to do this. As such, it’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s believable that Pallet Town was a small project set up by Oak to raise the best Pokemon trainers ever… And you know what? It bloody worked. Twice!

9) Sunnydale – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Vampire slayer fans rejoice, for we really couldn’t forget about the iconic Sunnydale. We’re keen to point out that we cannot rate this much higher than ninth place, as it’s far too realistic. But of course, thankfully, it’s a made up place in their world. If it weren’t made up, we’d not be able to put it in this list at all!

Now, Sunnydale is home to many supernatural occurrences, all thanks to the fact it’s situated on a Hellmouth – A portal between this ‘reality and the next’. Vampires, demons and more – There’s plenty of fun to be had in Sunnydale!

8) Smallville – Superman

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Superman came from here. Okay, so we need to be aware that Smallville is really routed in an ounce of realism, which is why we can’t really score it any higher than it is right now. It’s so grounded, much like Sunnydale, that it’s sometimes hard to call it a Fantasy scenario. But of course, in this particular case, Superman isn’t exactly a normal occurrence. That’s how we’re arguing the fantasy element here.

Plus, furthermore, Smallville isn’t really a real place – So that counts towards it. Still, love it or hate it, it’s got a lot of backstory, a lot of character, it’s own set of businesses which lead independent little lives and boom! You’ve got yourself a series of tales which are sure to keep you thoroughly entertained.

7) Seyda Neen – Morrowind

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Good, you’re finally awake.

Once you step foot off the boat you are immediately struck by the alien landscape of Morrowind, and your first introduction is the town of Seyda Neen. The second you turn to face the guard on the deck of the boat you’ll spot the enormous insectile Silt Strider, hear it purr as you make your way to the census office, and that’s only the beginning.

The people are friendly and definitely not up to something or hiding stashes of stolen goods in tree stumps. Take in the fascinating wildlife before it tries to eat you, meet the locals before robbing them blind, bring an umbrella in case of falling mages, and enjoy a long look at the beautiful isle of Vvardenfell… before it’s swallowed by the Red Mountain and coated in a fine layer of ashes.

6) Hallowe’en Town – Nightmare Before Christmas

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Not many towns are ruled over by a king, but when your town is the very soul of the pagan festival of the dead and all of its little modern adjustments, then it’s only fitting that it be the seat of power for the Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington.

The populous delight in fear; chills, shocks, and frights that entertain and delight even as they terrify. Some take it too far, but for the most part they are not cruel or mean spirited… just spirited.

Ok while I’m here: there’s a Mayor for Hallowe’en Town, as well as a King. I feel inclined to ask exactly how far the jurisdictions extend, as the town appears to be the entirety of Jack’s kingdom, unless Oogie Boogie and the evil scientist fall outside the town boundaries? Are there other territories and settlements? Because it seems like Jack’s job is way too easy for him to try and take over another Kingdom’s job for a week.

5) Esgaroth/Lake-Town – The Hobbit

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In the shadow of the Lonely Mountain, ever in terror of the slumbering dragon within, the small human settlement proves that humans really will live anywhere they damn well please, even in Middle Earth. It’s a trade based city state ruled by Middle Earth’s only elected leader, the Master, and it thrives on the river traffic and the open trade between dwarves, elves and men.

Lake-Town is built upon stilts that rise out of the surface of the water, but since the attack by Smaug the low tide reveals how much bigger the place used to be, stubs of the old piles still visible and submerged. Being made entirely of wood makes the place easy picking for a fire-breathing lizard, and yet Esgeroth is emblematic of the greatest trait of Men, durability.

4) Lut Gholein – Diablo

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Sultan Jerhyn reigns from the palace of Lut Gholein, a city beaten back to it’s very limits until it is little more than a handful of buildings between the dock and the palace, and the smattering of citizens that remain have retreated to the safety offered by the few walls that remain and the mixed collection of guards and mercenaries.

As the hub for act two you’ll spend a lot of time among the people, you’ll grow sick of hearing Lysander’s voice, get irritated at all of the places you’re not allowed to go, and slowly but surely cleanse the desert of Radament, Duriel, and the demonic evils that have infested the sands. The more it’s people and it’s Sultan come to respect you, and the longer you spend there, the more Lut Gholein becomes like a home, something that neither the docks of Kurast or the rogue encampment quite muster.

3) Alexandria Town – Final Fantasy IX

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Hey, we’re about to be starting up a let’s play of this – But that’s not the reason why we’re putting this all the way up at number three. It’s a wonderful town, full of wonderfully magical things, where a queen is truly horrible and it makes a massive impact on the game. Think about this for a moment: The queen of a relatively small town is able to take down a main settlement of a whole race, which is hidden behind a protective sandstorm. She’s also able to take out the biggest city in the game!

Okay, so of course this a plot device, as you’re supposed to not be a fan of Queen Brahne, but she really was a pawn. But to think, that such a power thirsty queen could cause so much pain and suffering, from such a small, unsuspecting town, it’s truly incredible. Hopefully you’ll join us as we play through our brand new Let’s Play series, starting from this Sunday!

2) Silent Hill

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While it’s entrances may be very earth-bound, and it may even look a lot like home, Silent Hill is certainly not of this earth. It’s a hell of our own creation, forged of the worst parts of our mind, manifested by terrible rage and evil. Victims of the haunted town in Maine are always drawn in by a mystery, a stranger in trouble, a message from a loved one, a disappearance, they always discover some terrible truth, and they never leave.

The streets are shrouded in fog, the night is filled with terrors of the mind, and the end is never pleasant. Amongst the favourite residents are the shrouded nurses, grey children, and the titanic manifestations like Pyramid Head or the Butcher. Whatever the origins… the first origins of this terrible town might be, make no mistake it is always your personal hell.

1) Hyrule Town – The Legend of Zelda

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If there’s any game in this list that has a town that’s actually synonymous with the whole overall franchise, then it’s this one. Hyrule Town of The Legend of Zelda is a place that appears in just about all of the games in the series to some capacity, as well as the other media, such as the manga and the cartoon series. With this said, a lot of people mostly just think of the castle.

It’s fair to say though, that Hyrule Town is hugely influential, as it’s always one of the primary locations of the games. One of the most important uses for it is as a giant shop. It’s also useful if you want to collect stones that make up a whole stone to progress finding secrets throughout the game. It’s also home to a man who makes shoes. It’s also home to —

There are many stories told here. Each and every one of them are magical, lovable and downright memorable in their own right.


Honourable Mention

Some towns are just plain old boring aren’t they? Thankfully, not the ones in our list above – Nor the two extra towns we’ve found for you to salivate over. Don’t worry: They’re not quite list-worthy, but they needed to at least be seen!

Lazy Town

 

If you’ve never heard of Lazy Town, then you’ve probably not been lurking on YouTube for all that long in your life. It’s come and gone quite a few times as one of the most memeable TV series ever created. It’s a childrens show, which is so crazy, so sing-song-y and so colourful, that it made the perfect source for mashups and parodies. YouTube Poop videos were commonly using Lazy Town footage and so were other viral videos.

With the shocking development that the guy who plays central villain, Robbie Rotten, was actually hospitalised, it was no shock that it came back as one of the most memeable things again. But this time, people were memeing it for a good cause. To spread awareness of just how camp, but how fun the show actually was. Keep it up internet – Sometimes you do us all proud!

South Park

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Fantasy comes in many forms… some more alarming than others. While one might not encounter elves and wizards on the streets of South Park (ok you might, but they’re just kids) you’re surprisingly likely to come across crab people, aliens, and gnomes who steal your underwear. The residents of South Park Colorado have come to accept this over time, as you would I guess, survive one Manbearpig or Mecha-Streisand attack and you survive them all.

That’s not to say that the locals are unaffected of course. The backwoods burg claims amongst its most noted citizens an immortal child, Jesus, and a man whose digestive tract is home to the spiritual leaders of small animals… I believe Paris Hilton recently moved in with them. Many have experienced odd changes, cybernetic implants, existential crises, physically manifesting imaginated constructs and the like.

It may be a small town in the northern states, but it goes through a lot.


Quickly, let’s hold a town meeting in the town hall and declare that this list is over! We’re meeting with the local Council of GeekOut South-West to decide what to do about this state of emergency that we’re in. Gather around, grab yourself a lovely cake from old Mrs. Smith, and let’s get the tea poured out. Oh, whilst you’re all here, you get to decide what is our list choice for next week?

That’s all for this week’s Top 10 – We’re done! We’re out of here but now it’s all over to you, ladies and gentlemen. What did you make of our list this week? Did we order it as per your expectations, or were we way off the mark? Did our criteria fit in quite nicely? Let us know what you thought in the comments below, or if you’d prefer to just use your personal social media accounts, engage with us on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.


Top 10 – Swords

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GeekOut Top 10s

Let’s cut to it, of all the many ways and means we’ve created to kill each other there’s not one that carries with it so much myth and legend and so many famous examples. Name a few axes for me, or more than one hammer? Oh but there are more named swords in this world than you could shake a spear at. It’s a symbol, a stick of pointy metal with a handle on one end, and so much more.

There’ll be no sitting on the fence, listed here are ten swords that we claim to be the very coolest, most legendary, most awesome, and we’re prepared to back that opinion to the hilt! Welcome to the Top 10 Swords.


Top 10

10) Katanas – Kill Bill

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So why do these make the list? These are just some very typical Katanas aren’t they? I mean what on Earth could make these specific Katanas so important? Oh I don’t know, perhaps because they were wielded by Uma Thurman in one of the most typical and easy to understand action films ever made? Perhaps because they were so good at conveying the entire plot of the film with the right weapon.

Think about it, it’s a film about a bride who is on a mission to exact her revenge against some assassins. She literally only wants to kill Bill. Only coming in at number 10 because yes, they are ordinary Katana’s, but this is possibly one of the most stylish action films you could ever watch – and it is thoroughly entertaining as well. If you’ve somehow not seen it, go do so now.

9) Greatknife – Silent Hill

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Welcome back Pyramid Head, the most iconic monster of the Silent Hill franchise. While the game offers up Pyramid Heads equipped with spears, providence has left the beast with a far more iconic weapon, the ragged blade it drags along the ground, a sound that instills fear in the players who have grown familiar with what’s coming.

In the film the modified “Red Pyramid” uses the blade to rather terrifying effect, piercing a thick steel door like butter and waving it around like it’s nothing, despite the fact that one heavy swing smashes masonry. How Sunderland can lift it and use it in game seems mind-boggling.

8) Oblivious – Goblins

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Oblivious begins life as a blade that mimics the last material it touches (under certain rules of course, no air-blades) so it turns to stone if touched against stone, wood if touched to wood, and “+2 to strength metal” if touched against a ring that grants a +2 strength bonus.

In the dungeon where it is found a Psion is attempting to bring about an end to all things, and in a semi-successful attempt opens up multiple holes in reality. If something falls in, it never existed, with only slight corrections made to adjust for paradoxes.

As it turns out if you poke a sword that clones material into pure oblivion, the sword mimics the properties of oblivion. It is no longer affected by things like gravity, force, time, space, and reason, and therefore if it is dropped, it does not exist until picked up again. Two minutes with an indestructible weapon and Minmax the Unstoppable breaks it.

7) Ragnarok – Soul Eater

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So first things first, let’s establish how Soul Eater works to those of you who don’t know about it. In Soul Eater, your weapon harvests souls (no big surprise here). It eats them and boom, it makes them bigger and better. But more importantly, the students are doing this to teach the demon weapons that they possess to not cause any carnage, as well as a way to help balance world order. Are you with me? Good…

So then when Ragnarok is revealed, it’s a little bit screwy. Ragnarok is a demon weapon which is in the possession of Crona, the sort of semi-antagonist. Crona is a very interesting character who has had quite a rich background regarding his/her past and their mother, the Gorgon Medusa. With this in mind, it’s no surprise then that Cronas demon weapon, Ragnarok, is certainly heavily influenced by Medusa. Of coruse, so is Crona, so the two of them set out to become the Kishin… But enough about that – That might be going too far into the stories plot. Heavily involved from the get go, Ragnarok is no ordinary blade.

6) Finn’s Collection – Adventure Time

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Mighty hero renowned throughout the land of Ooo, a world of adventure awaits, as does crazy loot. Let’s take a quick peruse through the main list here:

The Golden Sword of Battle (Scarlet) – Jake’s first major sword, sadly made four-dimensional and accidentally creates a black hole that destroys it.
Root Sword – A prize from a train filled with crazy magical items, used as a fallback when better blades break.
Demon Blood Sword – A demon forged this sword of his own blood in order to escape a prison forged by Finn’s adoptive father. A suitable facsimile is made of blessed grape juice.
Grass Sword – A blade that not only binds itself to Finn’s arm, but also replaces it when it’s severed. Unnervingly sharp for a cursed plant.
Other Finn Sword – Caused by a time-travel-dream-paradox, one copy of Finn turns into a sword for the maybe original to carry, which doubles all of his capabilities.

Yup, I think they’re awesome enough.

5) Gunblade – Squall Leonheart

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The Gunblade is a really simple design and I don’t know why people hadn’t made one before. It’s simple a large sword, which can be used typically to slash at opponents and inflict some serious damage. But the flipside to this blade, as well as the reason as to why we have it in this list in the first place, is what else it is: A freakin’ gun!

Yeah, this blade can be used like a gun as well. In fact, Squall might be the only character I at least can remember from the Final Fantasy series that allowed you to hit a bumper button for some extra damage output, as it fires a bullet into the enemies that you’re slashing up. It’s an outrageous design, but it’s so simple that I reckon someone could actually pull it off. Nice design, Square Enix!

4) Tetsusaiga – Inuyasha

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Whilst there’s common debate about the actual correct spelling of this sword’s name, there’s no debating that this is a seriously kick ass sword. When wielded by the dog demon Inuyasha, this humble looking blade has the ability to kick it up a notch by turning into an absolutely massive blade! Honestly, who the heck could seriously use a thing like that, if not a demon who has a lot of pent up rage after being pinned to a tree and sealed there.

Still, all joking aside, the Tetsusaiga is Inuyashas most versatile weapon, even if it sometimes seems like it should be a hinderance. It just goes to show, that some people certainly do carry around growers, rather than showers. Hah, that was a human anatomy joke. The sword is actually a fang from Inuyasha and primary antagonist Sesshomaru’s father. Whilst Inuyasha got Tessaiga, the sword of destruction, Sesshomaru got the sword of life, the Tensaiga. So we’re here to root for the… Destructive one and not the preservative one..? Well, okay then Inuyasha, whatever you say. The Tetsusaiga is not only capable of transforming into the massive blade seen above, but it’s also good at guiding Inuyasha too, almost as if his dad is still looking out for him. Bless.

3) Zangetsu – Bleach

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Ok, I won’t lie, there are plenty of better anime, and Bleach is a guilty pleasure of mine because of all of the yelling and some pretty awesome music. But Zangetsu is one hell of a sword. Every shinigami conjures a sword from their soul, a Zanpakuto, and Ichigo’s is ridiculously oversized because of his raw power and his inability to control it.

Zanpakutos have three forms, released by getting to know the spirit within the blade, and Ichigo and Zangetsu have one hell of a relationship. His first form is impossibly large and loses its guard, being a shameless representation of Ichigo’s power, and never reverts to its original form because it simply can’t be contained. The final “Bankai” form is a plain, black katana, normal sized, where everyone else has insanely large and mystical powers.

Old man Zangetsu and Ichigo cooperate so well, that they wield each other as a weapon, and the small weapon belies the impossible speed, skill and strength that Ichigo suddenly possesses. Cliche? Overly dramatic? Maybe! I don’t care, it’s awesome.

2) Excalibur

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Of course, the guy who put the sword in the stone, that’s your king right there.

Alright fair enough, Excalibur must be the name most people think of when the topic of “famous swords” is raised. Best known for appointing a young Arthur as King of England when he plucked it from the stone that had held it fast for years against boorish fools who thought the job all too easy, but the name has been used so often there must be hundreds of pretenders to the throne.

A Canadian TV series, a Crusader class battleship in Babylon 5, a ridiculous top-hatted character in Soul Eater, two Marvel Teams (X-Calibur for mutants, eXcalibur for British supers) and an ichthyosaur. The name gets around a bit, it’s a myth, it’s a legend, and it pretty much ticks all the boxes and cuts those boxes to unrighteous ribbons.

So what could claim the number 1 slot? Ah, who am I kidding you can see from here.

1) Vorpal Sword – Jabberwocky

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A legend born of nonsense. Is there anything quite so glorious?

Oh any old knife can slay a dragon or cut down a thousand men, you can slap a name on your pigsticker and call it unique but I can guarantee your blacksmith round the corner has got a dozen he made this morning. What other blade, which tongue of steel and hatred can claim the blood of the Jabberwock?

These days if you’ve played a few fantasy RPGs this public domain property will have popped up in your inventory, often as a unique weapon or some super-sharp blade. It’s a classic of Alice’s armoury from American McGee’s franchise, and even found its way into the Disney film so Alice could take down the monster on the Frabjous day. As it’s from a nonsense fantasy ballad the designs vary wildly, but the name remains.

See also Vorpal Bunny

What the hell Final Fantasy?


Honourable mentions

Ah yes, we do have the sharpest of wits, as well as the most versatile of blades at our arsenal. Never fear though, we do have two more blades for you to consider, two more easily recognisable swords that should we should cut through.

Lightsaber – Star Wars

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Lightsabers are not exactly unheard of, now are they? They don’t quite make it into our list, because they do feel a little bit like a “Mary Sue” of the sword world. I mean they are lasers and they are also swords… Which is pretty cool, but at the same time, when they’re so damn powerful that they can go through walls, you know you’re talking some major nonsense. Still, they look awesome.

They come in a few varieties, such as a normal blue lightsaber, a normal red lightsaber, a two-ended lightsaber, some other variation of a — The point is, they all look pretty similar, although there are minor cosmetic changes here and there. Usually looking cooler for the bad guys than the good guys, there’s one more reason to give in to the dark side. Other than all the cookies they have!

Farfetch’d Leek – Pokemon

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To the untrained eye, Farfetch’d may be holding onto a very common leek, the kind you would find growing in your garden. Yes, indeed, this strange little bird appears to be holding a vegetable of some kind, how painful could this really be? How could such a tiny, harmless looking bird cause so much carnage with greens, which people always say are really healthy for you?

Well of course that’s because you’re untrained. You haven’t realised that this isn’t just any old leek, it’s literally a weapon of destruction! It’s a leek, yes, but it’s a powerful leek that can be used to slice through trees in the original Pokemon games. It’s a powerful leek that can be used to not only slice through things, but to slap someone upside the head with. You wanna mess with Farfetch’d, bring it on… But bring your A-Game, as this duck is really going to come at you.


We’re done cutting down our opposition with the best blades man can buy and no, we’re not on about Gillette. It’s true that a pen is much mightier than a sword – Ah who are we trying to fool here? Anyone with a brain can see that a sword could easily slice apart any old pen, no matter how mighty it may claim to be! As always though, take your pick for our next Top 10 list.

Hilt yourself fools, we’ve had enough slashing away at the air now. It’s time to remember what really matters in life: Really big swords (or sometimes really little ones). We’re done and it’s all thanks to you that we wrote this list, but that’s it for this Top 10. As always please remember to leave your comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.


Top 10 – Gratuitously Violent Characters

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GeekOut Top 10s

It’s grisly, it’s over the top, it’s explosive, it’s gory and frankly it’s unnecessary. We love it! When a character’s heights of violence have become so visceral and excessive that it’s borderline funny in how exaggerated it is, then the character becomes something truly and ridiculously memorable.

Grab yourself a mallet and a big bag of dynamite, and join us in a blood party of epic and stupid proportions as we count down through our Top 10 of gratuitously violent characters, but be forewarned because while we try and keep things civil around here the characters listed do not. Some of the content may be bloody, brutal, and even unpleasant.

Don’tcha just love it! (more…)


Games And Movies – An Unhappy Marriage

We know it all, we’ve seen it all happen over the last few years so I’ll skip the spiel and get into the heart of the matter. It fails in both directions:

Licensed Titles

Now the problem here is a matter of timing. Licensed titles are designed to be released shortly before the film upon which they’re based, but because the projects start roughly when the production of the film is well under way it cuts deeply into the production time, leaving us with rushed messes filled with glitches and lacking any kind of innovation as the development team try their hardest to cobble together something that will roughly match the feel of the film or the general themes.

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And that’s the other side of the problem. It’s very difficult to take a fixed and flowing narrative and wedge in some interactivity. It’s easier to take the characters and the world that they occupy and put them into a more game-oriented story than it is to try taking a story and gamifying it. For example, American McGee’s Alice took the characters from Lewis Carroll’s surrealist story and made a modern day classic. Telltale’s Walking Dead and Game of Thrones series have both taken the worlds and themes and created original adventures within them.

Gaming Films

Uwe Bol may be bringing down the standards, but he’s really only adding to a far larger problem. Paul W.S. Anderson too, but it’s not exactly his fault.

Half of the problem is the exact reverse of the licensed game issue. The appeal of games is the interactivity, and the fact that a game can reveal a great deal more through the hours of gameplay than it can in those periods of time dedicated to story-telling. Much like a book adaptation, much of a game’s content is condensed or removed altogether to allow for time constraints, leaving fans unfulfilled. Doom and Max Payne appear to have suffered most heavily under this issue, both films demonstrated at the very least a respectable attempt at bring their games to big screen, but felt clumsy and lacking (right up until Carl Urban’s FPS scene in Doom).

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Worse is the all-to-common issue of the writers, directors and producers not fully understanding the title that they’re working with. Boll may be a travesty of a director but at least he seems to enjoy games, whereas other attempts seem to be cobbling together plot from cutscenes or simply joining dots on what they’ve been told about it.

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At least one film has been made that came close to a true representation of the game upon which it was based: Silent Hill. All the key elements were there, the fog, the horror, the themes, even the story came very close, but even that had it’s critical flaw. Where the games created nightmares from the innermost corruption of the main character, the film constructed a narrative where the young girl had created a private hell for those who had condemned her, sending away a better part of herself to drag someone new in so that the audience had someone to follow. Even then, Silent Hill was a good film, and not a horrendous sequel either.

And so to the future! Warcraft has a film incoming, and while we’ve seen promising trailers let us down in the past (looking at you Agent 47) we may yet have the beginnings of a revolution on our hands. It took a long time for the comic book hero to see proper representation on the silver screen, and games have a similarly long burn to get through, trial and error, lots of error, until finally we begin to strike gold.

Sidenote, I think Assassin’s Creed has potential to make a good film, but a lot of other games have had potential and failed hideously. There are some thing Michael Fassbender just can’t fix, and the lousy relationship between video games and films will take more than a couple of successes.


Top 10 jump scares in gaming

GeekOut Top 10s

Welcome back another issue of our Top 10! This week we’ve been made to look at the Top 10 Jump Scares in Gaming, because all of you lovely viewers want to see us suffer and jump and be reduced to blubber and tears.

Thanks guys. For the record, Timlah loved this one.

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