Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines
latest RPG comes to us from the pen and paper role-playing franchise
called Vampire: The Masquerade, owned by White Wolf. Some of you out
there may remember the somewhat forgettable first game based on V:tM,
Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption. Well, playing through this glorious
thirty-five hour Vampiric roleplaying romp more than makes up for the
original. This is a modern RPG done almost exactly as they should be. I
met the character creation system in with a mix of happiness and
disdain. Your characters physicality is beyond your ability to change.
You may choose their sex, and their clan. For all practical purposes
think of your Clan as your 'Class', from the more common D&D based
systems. But after that disappointing experience you move right into
allocation of Attributes, Abilities, and Advantages. The points spent
here will shape who your character becomes, so spend wisely.
The storyline sets you up for a fall from the very beginning, as you barely escape your turning into a Vampire with your life, or unlife as it would be. Things progress from there in a solid story, that gives you a lot of choices. Unfortunately, these choices mostly come in during side quests, which leaves you unable to affect the main plot and direction of the game. The only real problem with the plot that crops
up is the almost essential need for certain skills. On my first run through I played as a fighting character, with moderate computer and security skills. I had a fairly easy run of things as it turned out. But try to take a smooth talking character, with a ton of charisma and seduction, and maybe some backup skills in firearms, and you'd better remember to save every chance you get because there will be a good many fights that will be nigh beyond your ability to complete.
of the many things that draws you into this game is the imagery, and the
stunning graphics that create it. Bloodlines is easily the best looking
RPG on the market right now. And although some choppiness can creep in
once in a while, even on a powerful system, most of the time you'll be
running smoothly. And the artists have done a fine job of drawing you
into the world of darkness, and making the atmosphere of the game almost
combat of the game can fall into two categories depending on which route
you take your character. You can follow the hack n slash method, and
employ a fairly large variety of weapons in dicing and bludgeoning your
enemies. Or if getting up close with Vampires and Kuejin doesn't suit
you, you can take firearms or spells and turn the games combat system
into a passable, and fun, first person shooter. Either way you'll find
the combat to be quite fun, though enemies tend to respawn randomly,
which can get annoying. Just keep in mind when skulking about that the
room you cleared five minutes ago may no longer be void of enemies.
of the game mechanics that play a heavy hand in your style, but work out
very well are the humanity and masquerade system. The more actions your
Vampire takes that are unnecessarily cruel, and vindictive, the more of
their Humanity they lose. This can lead to new dialogue options, and the
sometimes helpful, sometimes dreadful vampiric frenzy. When your
character gets lower in humanity the chance of them giving into their
inner beast increases, and they will occasionally fly into a rage,
attacking everything in site. Which, often, reaks havoc on the other
mechanic, your Masquerade points. These represent how many times your
character has broken the illusion of their condition. How many times
they done something supernatural in the public eye, and been spotted.
For one clan in particular this is important, as even getting to close
to someone with their hideous forms will cause a masquerade violation.
outside of the aforementioned systems you're looking at a game that
gives you a fair amount of versatility. You can play a stealthy night
crawler, a powerful behemoth of the night, a seductive lady of the
evening, or a brutal and hideous sewer-dweller. And although it is often
hard to avoid combat in the main storyline when you're trying your hand
at some of the more dapper, manipulation based classes, there are a fair
number of things in the side quests that come to you much easier than it
would for other players. But since you get pretty much the same results
from all of the missions, no matter how you complete them, you may find
you have little motivation to play through the thirty plus hours more
When all is said and done, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines is an above average bit of RPG goodness, with some added mechanics, and all of it's served up in a very eye-catching package. And yes, there were several things that were done in the wrong way in this game, but there were a great many more that were done right.
- D.T. Mathers
(January 30, 2005)
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