More screenshots from Mass Effect: Andromeda

Just because I’ve put Mass Effect: Andromeda on pause for the moment, it doesn’t mean that it’s left my purview entirely. Oh no, in fact, I finally had the chance to review my plethora of screenshots recently, which prompted me to put together a new Screenshot Theatre video for Virtual Bastion’s YouTube channel. Like the last one, this one short and sweet, and quiet. So if you have a spare three minutes, click, kick back, and enjoy the scenery.

Ac!d Commander: So close and yet, so FAR

This is my new game project: “Ac!d Commander.” It involves Metal Gear Ac!d for the PSP. Rather than being in written form, I decided to do an actual Let’s Play, making videos and everything. I’ll be posting one to three new videos every Friday from today until the game is over. I welcome any comments and discussion. Apologies in advance for any audio hiccups, video malfunctions, or other jackassery, which will surely ensue.

Continue reading “Ac!d Commander: So close and yet, so FAR”

I could not be less excited for Bioware’s new game, Anthem

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This year’s E3 press conferences have come and gone, and my big takeaway from it all — from the X.B.O.X. to nothingness from Bethesda to “looks like Nintendo isn’t dead after all” – is that I couldn’t care less about Anthem.

After watching EA’s presser on last Saturday, the looming question was “what the hell is Anthem??” was the only one that remained. Both my husband and I rightly assumed that it could be something very cool from the mere few seconds that were shown. It was at least enough to get the speculation gears churning, and it was enough for us to sit through the orgy of teasers and trailers shown off at the Microsoft, aka “You REALLY need an Xbox One X, right??” press conference the next day.

The reveal of Anthem was…ick. It was just icky.

That’s pretty much what I said after the reveal. “Ick.”

Okay, not everything seemed icky. The graphics were really pretty and impressive. Everything else was icky. From it feeling like a Destiny clone to a rather lackluster narrative to…oh my god…those three dreaded words:




Mark my words, people, I cannot and will not invest in another open world game from Bioware. I’m sorry, but it simply will not happen.

“But wait!” you cry. “You were one of the jerks who gave into Mass Effect: Andromeda after professing that you weren’t interested! That’s…that’s just a dick move, you evil…jerky….flip-flopper!”

That’s true. So much can change in the course of a year. (Anthem is due out in 2018.) I’m only speaking from my gut here, and that’s really only after seeing the smallest sliver of what’s to come.

Honestly, though, what’s promoting these feelings is open-world fatigue. I mean, really do love open-world games. I swear. But when it came time to search for something else to play after completing Mass Effect: Andromeda, I realized that I had spent most of the first half of 2017 (and a little bit near the end of 2016) playing nothing but open-world games. I just finished Borderlands 2 (check out Virtual Bastion tomorrow for my run-down about its insane brilliance), and before that, I was all about Andromeda. Prior to that, there was Fable Anniversary, Fallout: New Vegas, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Assassin’s Creed II, all of which fall within the spectrum of open-worldness. Sure, I played through a couple outliers, but I’ve pretty much been open-world, all-the-time, and…I’m tired of it.

Seeing Anthem only reinforced that self-imposed exhaustion. As such, I remain fully uninterested in investing…or rather, planning to invest…any more of my personal resources into this particular title.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 (am)

Confused? Why the dates? Well, I started writing this post last night after reading more non-news about Anthem. I was so un-buzzed about the general buzz that’s still surrounding this game, that I felt compelled to put a directive into words: DO NOT BUY ANTHEM (*at release). Because today, while I feel less jazzed up about the whole thing, I feel that, given time and how weak-willed I’ve been about giving into Bioware titles in the past, I may more than likely curl once Anthem is on the market.

But, I can’t! I just…can’t. {sob} I’ve no interest in returning to Dragon Age: Inquisition! I can barely bring myself to play Mass Effect: Andromeda again despite that fact that it is a good game! It’s not that I hate Bioware, but I just haven’t truly, madly, or deeply loved their recent open-world games!!

… … …

Damn. This is all quite silly, isn’t it? Me getting worked up over a game that won’t even see the light of day for some time. I’ve got to have better things to do with my time. Like, Shadow of the Colossus, which I just started. I’m not even sure what to make of it yet, except that I’m having trouble with the control scheme. But boy oh boy, it is ever pretty.

I’m currently feeling like this is a pretty worthless post, but I’m not going to delete it. It may really be that I’m not particularly mad at Anthem itself, but rather at the fact that E3 was simply blah. (Though seeing a bit more of Detroit: Become Human was a high point.) I’m much more excited about Shadow of the Colossus and playing/replaying games in my current collection over just about anything that was shown during this year’s E3 press conferences or otherwise. Mass Effect: Andromeda also reminded me that release dates are overrated. If I had known that I’d be picking up a somewhat incomplete and broken (for some) game at the start, then I surely would have waited on purchasing it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 (pm)

Well, this turned into a rather jumbly post. As I’m re-reading it now, I’ve no clue how to turn it into anything cohesive. So I won’t. It’s not a good post, but it does reflect some of the most in-the-moment writing that I’ve ever done…which is probably why I’ve refrained from a lot of in-the-moment writing before. Haha. I’m still sour about Anthem and E3, but those feelings are quickly fading. There are simply better thing to do/play/worry about, like figuring how to take down more colossi! It is a damn pretty, pretty game.

What is an RPG without the “R” and the “P”? [Part 1 of 2]

This past March, in the few weeks leading up to Mass Effect: Andromeda’s release, I opted to take on the challenge of playing through as as much of the original trilogy as I could. But with time being short, and those games being long, I was faced with only one choice: speed(ish) runs! (Relatively speaking.) With rules, of course. (Otherwise there was no way in hell I was going to be able to reign myself in!) Surprisingly, I managed to make it through both ME 1 and 2, and I documented my progress on Virtual Bastion. Here’s part 1 of my 2-part post.


Image by Flick user mrwynd (CC BY 2.0)

When I decided at the beginning of March that yes, okay, I’d invest in Mass Effect: Andromeda, I thought that it might be fun to play through what I could of the original trilogy before Andromeda was released. But with my gaming time being limited, and with upwards of a several dozen hours, if not more, required for each game, I knew that there was no way I could complete any of the games to their fullest extents in just a couple weeks. It was a quandary.

But then, I thought, what if I didn’t complete the games to their fullest extents? What if I only played through each game’s main story? Having never put less than a standard work-week’s time into any of my playthroughs of any of the individual Mass Effect titles, I thought it could…

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Remembering the Video Game Crash of 1983

During a recent review of the contents of a couple old USB drives that I had forgotten that I stashed away, I found a handful of articles that I had written for a gaming site that went defunct. Since I hate for words to sit unread (even those in incoherent, rambly sentences), I decided I might as well share them here. Here’s one from around January 2013 in which I did a little looking back on the history of video games and the video games industry. Interestingly, though this post was written over four years ago, the questions here remain relevant, as it seems we are still in the process of understanding and debating what this industry, which has itself undergone some significant changes in just the past decade, means to us today, as well as where its future lies.

Though we’re just a few weeks into 2013, it’s already shaping up to be an interesting year for gaming. While next gen Playstation and Xbox consoles burn up the rumor mill, an elder statesman of the industry, Atari, declared bankruptcy. A plethora of new sequels and new IPs promise nothing less than sheer gaming ecstasy. And new technologies continue to push the boundaries between gaming and reality and force the question “what is a video game?”

But 2013 also marks something else a little less spectacular (or just a spectacular, depending on your point of view) — the 30th anniversary of the video game crash of 1983.  It was kind of a big deal. And now that we’re in a time of gaming overabundance, I can’t help but see a few parallels.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, video games were THE thing.  In less than a decade, video games had rapidly evolved — from Pong to Ms. Pac-Man — in a time when personal computing was just beginning to take off.  Electronic games, arcade games, consoles that allowed video games in the home were incredibly popular and technology was in vogue.  This “golden era” of gaming was akin to the “space race” of the 1960s, except now kids could go to the moon…virtually, anyway.  With high demand came abundance. Arcades popped over seemingly overnight (like Starbucks still do today). Consumers seeking to buy a console had no less than a dozen (or more!) from which to choose. Games, great games, crappy games were made public without a second thought.  There was money to be made in video games, as much as there was once gold in them thar hills!

Through a series of unfortunate events, retailers found themselves with more video game related stock than they could handle, video game companies such as Atari were hit with some big time failures (ahem, E.T., ahem), and internal strife developed within the gaming industry.  Video games and gaming fell almost as quickly as it had risen.  Between 1983 and 1985, the billion dollar industry lost millions in revenue.  This led to bankruptcy for some companies that could no longer compete.  A bunch of games were supposedly buried in a desert, and people moved on with their hair metal and acid-washed jeans.

So here we are 30 years later. The video game industry is comfortably back to being a billion-dollar industry.  Great games and crappy games are still being produced for…how many systems?  PC, Mac, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Android, iPad/iPod/iPhone, Nintendo DS and 3DS…and maybe someday soon the next versions of the Playstation and Xbox.  That’s about a dozen or so systems.  There are too many publishers, developers, and game companies to mention — mergers seem to happen every day and new ones quickly pop up.  We have no shortage of games to play.  We have abundance.

The video game industry is in a much more stable environment than it was years ago.  The spirit of the early video game industry probably wasn’t ready to be a shooting star. Video games then were like meteorites, they shone bright and powerful but were destined for a quick, hot demise. They were a fad like pet rocks and friendship bracelets.  But they weren’t destined to become little more than an historical footnote. Video games survived, the industry survived, and it today is reigns alongside the film and television industry and vies hard for our everlasting attention.

The industry was founded on invention and innovation and its spirit remains, well…where is that spirit? Is it with the big companies or the independent developers?  It is with those that have money or those just scraping by? Is it with the players or the publishers? What do you think of the industry today?

77 Hours Later, and Mass Effect: Andromeda is in the Bag

ICYMI, I barreled through Mass Effect: Andromeda all the way to the very end. And by “barreled through,” I mean that if I had had two actual free week to complete the game, then maybe my description would be more accurate. Still, me getting through a single game in less than three months is nothing short of a miracle, so my words stand. To see those words, which involve lots of spoiler-free thoughts on the game itself, just click below to see them on Virtual Bastion.


Actually, 77 and one-half to be precise, but who’s counting? Me, that’s who, because I really can’t believe that I spent anywhere near that time in the world of Mass Effect: Andromeda. But there it is, and now it’s time to talk about it. Where to even begin?! There’s so much to unpack here, but I’m going to keep things streamlined and spoiler-free (but no less opinionated) by exploring the game through five topics: story, missions, characters, gameplay, and graphics. I’m also going to aim to keep the previous Mass Effect games out of the picture. As bound in that universe as Mass Effect: Andromeda is, it’s a different animal from the original trilogy.

TL;DRMass Effect: Andromeda is a solid and enjoyable game with its own set of issues and quirks, none of which significantly detract from the overall experience.

Now, if you want to read, continue at…

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A gaming update, updated!

A few months back, I offered up a round-up of games that I had recently played or been playing. It was good; I liked it. It made me feel much more accomplished than I thought it would. And I think it’s something I’m going to try to do every few months, or thereabouts. (Probably without the “Play or Pass” references, unless I picked up something based off that series specifically.) Starting with this poorly titled post. Maybe I’ll come up with something snazzier eventually. Maybe not. I really don’t know. And as you can see, I’m having a damn near awful time with this introduction, so let’s just let on with the games, shall we?

Continue reading “A gaming update, updated!”

Ac!d Commander: Climb Every Mountain

This is my new game project: “Ac!d Commander.” It involves Metal Gear Ac!d for the PSP. Rather than being in written form, I decided to do an actual Let’s Play, making videos and everything. I’ll be posting one to three new videos every Friday from today until the game is over. I welcome any comments and discussion. Apologies in advance for any audio hiccups, video malfunctions, or other jackassery, which will surely ensue.

Continue reading “Ac!d Commander: Climb Every Mountain”