|Designer(s)||Jason Anderson (creative director), Leonard Boyarsky (executive producer), Tim Cain (design), Brian Mitsoda (lead writing, design)|
|Engine||Source engine (modified alpha)|
|Release date(s)||NA November 16, 2004
EU November 19, 2004
|Genre(s)||action role-playing game|
The following review will be an experiment. I originally planned on only reviewing visual novels that interest me here in GGE but I’ll try reviewing an actual PC game to see how that fares. And now, without further ado, I give to you Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. This will be a long one so only read it if you’re interested in an action RPG where vampires don’t suck or sparkle at all.
You begin your journey this time in modern day Los Angeles as a newly embraced vampire. By creating you without the consent of your clan’s Elders, your sire has violated one of vampire society’s most hallowed laws. As punishment for the crime he has been put to death. Normally you would be expected to share the same fate but the newly installed Prince of Los Angeles thinks you might have some merit: you’re a newly embraced vampire with no sire to guide you; you are unfamiliar with the world of vampires and their laws and customs. You would be useful and expendable pawn in his grand scheme.
1.2 GHz Athlon or 1.2 GHz Pentium III, or higher; 384 MB of RAM, Quad-Speed CD-ROM, 3.3 GB uncompressed hard disk space and 1.4 GB for Windows swap file, 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible videocard; 16-bit sound card and drivers.
Gameplay: To summarize what the game’s content and gameplay’s like, here’s a simple equation:
This game can be played either in 1st or 3rd person and available to switch in between. You will employ a variety of firearms and skills such as computer hacking and lock picking as well as your devastating array of vampiric powers called Disciplines (Your special abilities and magic.) And what would a game about vampires be if there wasn’t some blood drinking?
Of course since this is an RPG, aside from the main story quests there are various sidequests throughout the game and you have complete freedom of which ones you wish to partake in. The missions range from something simple like feeding a dying woman your own blood thus turning her into a Ghoul, to major missions like stopping a citywide plague. The things you’ll be doing in this game are both varied and creative at the same time using the supernatural them to full extent. Not only will you be fighting thugs and other vampires but also other monsters like zombies, mutants and “Critters” look-alikes…ugh, the Critters.
The equation above mentions Deus Ex because like said game Bloodlines’ mission objectives can be completed in many different ways. The player is given the freedom to complete missions in any way he/she desires. You can either go gung-ho and blast everyone to smithereens, be as quiet as a mouse and sneak past all enemies to your destination and sometimes if your “Persuasion”, “Seduction” (Most useful for females obviously) or “Intimidation” stats are high enough, talk your way out of a fight if there’s a dialogue that usually results in a fight.
For example: There’s a mission where the prince will order you to infiltrate a museum and retrieve a special artefact. However, he instructs you to do it as discreetly as possible. During the mission, you’ll reach a door that leads to a room with security lasers. Next to said room there’s a security room with a guard and a computer that operates the lasers. If you touch them, not only will it alarm the guards but also lock the entrance to the artefact. There are 4 different options you can take here. Will you either:
A: Punch the conveniently located fuse box in the laser room, causing the lasers to malfunction and randomly turn on and off, giving you the chance to slowly cross.
B: If you have a vampire with the “Obfuscate” at level 3-4 (Which turns you invisible for a short time), you can break the glass to the security room without the guard noticing and while invisible sneak to the computer, type in the acquired password, OR hack it if your hacking skills are high enough, disable the lasers and be on your way.
C: Same as B, except you’re using a Vampire with a Discipline that temporarily paralyzes the security guard and he doesn’t notice you such as the Malkavian’s Hysteria.
D: Forget about being discreet and just incapacitate the guard, recommended by sucking him dry of all his blood instead of fighting him.
And this is only one section of the same mission. You still need to find a way to reach that area of the museum and how you do it is completely up to you. Aside from ambushes and boss battles, most missions have different ways the player can choose to complete them. The freedom isn’t as vast as the Deus Ex trilogy but it’s VERY similar.
You choose to play as a member of one of seven diverse and specialized vampire clans and you’ll need to employ all of your preternatural skills to survive. You’ll need to charm, sneak, intimidate and fight your way through the dangerous world the vampires inhabit and along the way decide just who you really owe your allegiance to.
The controls are quite responsive and make it very easy to play on a keyboard. I haven’t tried using a gamepad but I assume it’s possible.
The music: Gothic rock and dark music. Even if you’re not into this music, you have to admit it fits the game perfectly.
With a game with up to 50-60 hours’ worth of content and 7 clans who each provide a very different experience each playthrough, why is it merely a cult classic? It’s full of bugs. When it first came out the game was glitch and it froze many times. The game will sometimes freeze after entering a building. One of my “favourite” glitches is the elevator door: The buttons won’t work and you’ll be stuck in there, forcing you to reload another file or worse, start over. Thankfully there are many unofficial fanmade patches that fix many of the problems but not all of them. They do make the game beatable at least.
In conclusion: Despite the aforementioned bugs, this is one of my all-time favourite action RPGs. With its high replay value, unique premise and the fact it makes vampires look both fetching and intimidating, I see no reason why anyone should deny this game. Heck, even a non-RPG fan can pick this up and enjoy it.
P.S.: I personally recommend picking up the Clan Quest Mod in this link to further enhance the gaming experience with even more content.
P.P.S: For yuri fans…female NPCs, including two important storyline ones…are bisexual and…if you play your cards right…