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    Harman Necroskowitz's Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (PC)

    [January 14, 2008 12:50:47 AM]

    Here we are again for more vampire shenanigans. So following the tutorial level I am sent to Santa Monica to help out my new prince with some undead chores. Thing is, there are so many side attractions and folks running around that I think I’ll go ahead and let Mr. LaCroix sit on his thumb for awhile. Truly, just walking out of the 0-star apartment (oh, haven, excuse me) the brass provided for me, I was immediately presented with the opportunity to accost some poor fellow, that wandered into the wrong part of town, for his money and Rolex.

    The game play itself is not terribly complicated and has combat reminiscent of Bioshock (or maybe Bioshock has combat reminiscent of Bloodlines?) if you trade plasmids for vampire powers and Eve for blood (which you have to periodically drain from any human who happens to be walking home alone) and add more of a focus on melee combat. The conversation tree structure would be familiar to anyone who played RPGs like the Baldur’s Gate series or the Neverwinter Nights series only it is completely voice acted down to the last random peon like Oblivion, so on some levels it manages to trump all three in that regard.

    The quests I mentioned earlier are quite different from the usual RPG fare, if only because it’d be hard to justify running around forests, killing monsters in Southern California, vampires or not. In all seriousness, the quests are quite intriguing, well written, and really demonstrate why this game deserves its M rating. I realized this around the point when I was ambushed by a mad prostheses specialist who was clutching a severed arm by its protruding humerus and wielding it as a macabre club. My counterattack of course consisted of repeatedly making him vomit up great gouts of his own blood. When the battle ended I took the severed arm as a grim trophy that I had finally made it in the world. And that’s just the beginning! Did I mention that this is a game where you have to periodically stalk people into alleys and make them unwitting blood donors so you can heal your wounds and power your abilities?


    Bloodlines is a scary game. There is a profound sense of unease that permeates everything you get yourself into. This is because it doesn’t take place in the Southern California that I know and love, rather it is in a corrupted and, dare I say, gothic version of my home state. Santa Monica is a set of slums lit up only by the vampire-run night club where unspeakable acts are performed in the dark. Los Angeles is dominated by towering edifices with gargoyles (both the inanimate kind and the animate kind) staring down from their perches. Hollywood is a land of broken dreams and lechery, so it’s more or less the same as in real life. As for Chinatown, well, “forget it, Jake, its Chinatown.”

    What Bloodlines accomplishes in spookiness is hurt by how rushed the game feels at times. The load times are long and plentiful, and you occasionally find graphical laziness as the ‘seams’ between different parts of characters can be seen at times. As I mentioned in the earlier entry, the animations range from amazing to comically inept. Where many of the faces are superbly animated and in sync with dialog, people frequently move around in either a twitchy or ham-handed manner. This disparity is especially evident is some of the cut scenes. Thankfully most of the problems are graphical in nature, so at the very least you can console yourself with the other aspects of the game that mostly run smoothly.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 14th, 2008 at 03:31:16.

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    [January 13, 2008 11:33:12 PM]
    Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines


    Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines is an action role-playing game with elements of horror as well. The game centers on a player created character that has just been turned into a vampire. The game is built to emulate the rules and setting of the White Wolf Inc. pen and paper game Vampire: the Masquerade. As the player navigates the politics of vampire society and performs quests in an around the LA area, they gain experience points to purchase more vampiric as well mundane abilities. The game demonstrates moderate open-endedness when compared to other RPGs, more so than Bioshock but less than Oblivion.


    On Saturday night I began playing Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines, a lesser known action RPG that suffers from an overly cumbersome name. Truly it is a thing composed of the stitched together titles of the games of ages past and animated by forces best left unexplained. So I think from now on I’ll go ahead and refer to it as VtMB or Bloodlines depending on my mood. The interesting thing about this particular title is that its creators, the now defunct Troika Games, managed get Valve’s permission to create the game with the now consecrated Source engine. It’s hard to tell at points; however, due to the vast differences between the two games and the fact that Troika didn’t have the time or money Valve had access to when they were making HL2.

    As may have become instantly clear to you upon seeing the first word of VtMB’s monstrous title, the game is about vampires. And not the kind that live in castles and scare helpless Romanian peasants, but ones that live among us and ruthlessly enforce their secret existence with an arcane spectrum of laws collectively called the Masquerade, a coda that begs to be italicized. There are also several different kinds of vampires with all sorts of crazy powers like summoning wolves, telepathy, or making people vomit blood. After some thought, I eventually settled on a Tremere due to their being renown as the most intellectual of the bunch and therefore more capable of remembering not to go sunbathing, also they do the whole making people spew blood thing, which is awesome. Oh, and I named him Emmanuel Salazar, which is comparatively awesome. In addition to the vampire “class” choice there was also the array of skills and power options, many of which differed depending on which bloodsucker you chose. These included things ranging from firearms to intimidation to brawling to scholarship, so there is a great deal of room for experimentation.

    So after the character creation the newly created Emmanuel is thrust into the cutthroat world of vampire politics. After a rather brief PG-13 sex scene in which my character is bitten by his partner who, horror of horrors, is actually one of the undead. But before Mr. Salazar is able to so much as ask whether or not this means he’s technically a necrophiliac the vampire Special Forces kidnap both his vampiric consort and him. Without spoiling much more, I’ll go ahead and say that a great deal of vampires are then introduced including their “prince” Sebestian LaCroix who did an excellent job of making me immediately dislike him. He is seriously a combination of every bad stereotype of a politician, lawyer, and aristocrat and these are all evident within the first five minutes of the game. This brings me to the subject of the voice acting - it’s stellar! I have yet to encounter a character whose dialog was not delivered expertly. Even though the vampire leader made me hate him, he did so because that was the idea.

    The graphics were also something to marvel upon. The facial textures and character models look like they would fit in perfectly in Half-life 2 (except for one fellow whose long hair and beard are rather shoddily done) if Half-life 2 had vampires in addition to all manner of alien and robot. The unfortunate part of the game’s look is the hit-or-miss animations. Why does my character look like a scarecrow when he walks and a marionette when he runs? Thankfully, though, I don’t have to look at that unless I’m in the over-the-shoulder view, and I mostly prefer first person perspective.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 13th, 2008 at 23:36:28.

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    Harman Necroskowitz's Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 13 January, 2008

    GameLog closed on: Saturday 26 January, 2008

    Harman Necroskowitz's opinion and rating for this game

    Superb, if flawed.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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    2 : Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (PC) by dkirschner (rating: 4)
    3 : Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (PC) by kikesan (rating: 4)


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