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 Post subject: Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines |9/10| PC
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 5:26 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2006 9:43 pm
Posts: 272
Location: Between the gates...
People are your Twinkies.

Bloodlines is a computer game that is based on a pen and paper role playing game that takes place in ‘The World of Darkness’ setting published by White Wolf. Yes, there are pen and paper role playing games (PPRPG) other than Dungeons and Dragons. From what I hear about the system that ‘Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines’ is based on, it is a well developed and enjoyable gaming system. I can’t really comment on what was lost or added during Bloodlines’ transition from a pen and paper game to a computer game because I know very little about the source PPRPG, but I do know this: ‘Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines’ is one damn fine computer game.

The graphics in the game and the design of the game world are fantastic. All of the character models you interact with are fully fleshed out. You can even see little details like tattoos, makeup, even stains on the model’s clothing. All of the areas you visit are rich in detail, and there are numerous items that you can interact with that gives the game an additional sense of immersion and escapism. You can turn TVs and radios on and off. Go out on the dance floor to dance and actually have other people start dancing with you. People in the background are often interacting with each other, and they may even react to you as you pass by. There are many locations to visit and investigate, such as numerous bars and clubs, a strip joint even, along with a zombie infested cemetery to just name a few of them. Heck, there is even a subterranean labyrinth where vampires live that looks like it was lifted straight from the television show ‘Beauty and the Beast’. On the whole, it is a very rich, detailed, and active world.

Unfortunately, I did experience a few graphic problems. I’ve played this game on two different computer systems with different graphics cards, both being different models of nVidia cards. One bug that appeared on both systems was an issue relating to traveling around in tight crawl spaces. Sometimes my vampires head would stick through the wall and I could no longer see where I was going. That could be very disorienting, and was a very troublesome problem at times. The other graphic issue I experienced (and this only affected one machine) was that my screen would sometimes ‘jump’ when I panned around my character in third person perspective mode in certain areas. I don’t recall this happening in first person mode. All in all, this screen jump was a fairly minor issue game play wise.

The sound, music, and voice acting in this game is some of the best I’ve ever heard. Each character has a distinct voice and personality, and great dialog to help establish that personality. I particularly love whoever did the voice work for the vampire ‘Jack’ (who serves as your initial trainer and mentor throughout the game). Some of the stuff he said was so outrageous and well delivered I almost fell out of my chair laughing at times. The music was great too. I didn’t recognize any of the bands playing, but each club had a song pumping that gave the club a unique atmosphere of its own. Some of the songs grew on me so much that I tracked down the game’s music files on my computer and added them to my media players play list.

The gameplay in this game works pretty well for the most part. You can move around in first or third person modes. Each mode has its own advantages and disadvantages. Third person mode I found very helpful for feeding. You get in a lot of trouble if you are caught feeding on people who don’t offer themselves to you. I found that it was easier to pan around an area if see if it was clear of witnesses in third person than in first person, but I found first person mode very helpful when you wanted to get a closer look at something.

The gameplay is very similar to that of a first person shooter game. You use the keyboard to move, jump, crawl, strafe, activate things, feed on people, and use your inventory (ok, may be feeding on people isn’t a standard first person shooter action). The mouse controls your view. You attack with one mouse button and use your special vampire powers with the other button. I found the controls to be pretty solid once I had adjusted the key layout to my particular tastes.

Ok, so – the game has great graphics and a rich environment, coupled with wonderful sound and good gameplay. In addition to all of that, the game has a very well written story that makes full use of it’s ‘The World of Darkness’ background, without you having to know a bit about said background. Everything you need to know about the game world is explained to you in-game, and done so in a manner that is neither boring nor trivial.

You start the game off as a snack, of sorts. You are embraced (turned into a vampire) against your will. You and your sire (the vampire that made you a vampire) are put on trial. Your sire is executed because you were sired without a permit. Yep, a vampire has to have permission to make another vampire. That is the first of many rules you will discover that vampires have to follow. Many of the other rules vampires have to follow make up ‘The Masquerade’ (more on that in a bit). Ok, back to the trial. After your sire is killed, other vampires protest and you are let off the hook because ‘technically’ you hadn’t broken any of the. The ‘Prince’ (the vampire ruler of the city) takes you in, sends you off to get trained with Jack, and offers you your first missions.

The vampire Jack guides you through a training course, teaches you how to use your abilities, and explains some of the rules that you have to follow. Vampires have to adhere to the ‘The Masquerade’. This is a set of laws laid down that regulate the behavior of vampires to keep them from exposing themselves to humans; the logic being that humans could easily wipe out vampires using modern weapons if they became aware of them. That you can’t be seen using your supernatural abilities in public or be seen feeding on someone are just a few of the laws you have to follow. Violating these laws will cause you to be hunted by vampire hunters, and possibly other vampires. Violate these laws too many times and your game ends.

You also learn that people are your Twinkies, and that you have to suck the cream out of them in order to use your special abilities (and to keep from going hungry and going into ‘Frenzy’ mode.) You can’t suck out of all the cream though. If you kill a human, you start to lose humanity points. If you lose too many humanity points you’ll start to go in a ‘Frenzy’, publicly attack people, and very likely violate ‘The Masquerade’.

Once you done with the introductory missions and lessons, you’ll find yourself quickly embroiled in a war between different vampire groups, dealing with vampire hunters, helping a stripper vampire with a pest control problem, running from werewolves, killing zombies, looking for lost artifacts, and running errands for a female communist vampire who acts likes she’s still in college protesting. Oh, and you also find out that a vampire Armageddon might be on the way.

This is a wonderful game. I wish I could only dump praise on it, but the game does have problems that pop up from time to time. Sometimes, when loading a save, you’ll find that your character takes a swing as soon as the game starts. If you save in a room by yourself, this isn’t a problem. However, if this happens in a crowded place you may inadvertently attack someone, which can lead to all sorts of grief. Also, I found a few places where I got stuck in the elevator. I could hit buttons, but the doors wouldn’t open. The only way I found to fix that problem was to load a previous save, and pray it didn’t happen again.

If you play this game, and I recommend that you do, make sure you get all of the patches for it before you start.

All in all, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is a wonderful game beautifully rendered, with amazing sound, and a terrific story.

To be a game about dead people, it is very much alive.

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