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Vampire: Bloodlines review


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Note: This game was reviewed on a less then fantastic gaming pc. It is known to have varying performance. I've seen this game run perfectly on an office computer, and badly on a great one. Game experiance will probably be different to whats stated in this review.



The General Idea/Story


You go to a seedy hotel room with someone you just picked up at a bar. During the night, she/he whispers to you "I want to show you something" and then they bite into your neck, then while you are in this trance, allow you to feed on their blood in return. This is called, The Embrace, the act of creating a Vampire (feeding on their blood, then giving them their own)


But the Vampire Government, The Masquerade, has strict laws on who is to be added to Vampire Society. Permission must be given in order to Embrace, and your Sire (Vampire who created you) is executed for his crime. However, you are allowed to live, on the condition you play your part to help the Masquerade. And then begins your new unlife. Political, brutal world, with such rich mythology and history.


The game is based off of an old Pen and Paper table top RPG, much like Dungeons and Dragons. There have been several other Vampire video games, and they have all revolved around the same fantastic and completely original world.


The story focused heavily on the story of Caine and Abbel from the bible. Almost nothing is done by stereotype Vampire law. Feeding on a victim will not turn them into one, but doing so and feeding them your own blood will do so. Giving them your blood without feeding first will create a Ghoul, a sort of half Vampire who will become more loyal to you with each feed of your blood. Feed them three times, and they will be yours forever.


Vampires cannot eat mortal food, however Garlic and water do not harm them. The list goes on and on, and every angle it could be looked at from is covered with original mythology.


Character Creation


Its a bit limited on the customization side. You can only choose your race and sex, then apply a few stats. There are fighting Clans, like the rebellious Brujah, who get a boost to fist fighting, and the Gangrel, a sort of wolf like Vampire. There are the more unique Clans, like the incurable insane Malkavians, who use their insanity to force their enemies to perform group suicides and other such powers, or the Tremere, twisted Blood Sorcerors who use their magic to blast opponents to death.

There are the Nosferatu, hidious creatures who rely on Stealth to get by. These cannot travel around mortals because of their appearance, and so secret stores open up within the sewers, which compensates quite well, as you get better equipment quicker.

The Regents are closest to their human blood, and so have great pursuasion skills. They cannot feed on rats, and if they feed on a bum or prostitute, they have a 50% chance of vomiting it back up anyway.

There are a few more Clans, but I have gone into enough detail as it is.

Stats involve setting dots to certain skills. Adding a dot to Ranged and Perception will increase your effectiveness with guns. Adding to other fields will help protect you against bashing weapons, like baseball bats, and bladed weapons. Bladed is the Vampires weakness. If you had a SledgeHammer with 33 damage and a Knife with 20 damage, the Knife would be more effective against Vampires, whereas the Hammer would work better on humans.

There is much more along the lines of stat building.


I'm pissed you can't join the Sabbat though. You can swear to the Camarilla (Government) or the Anarchs (Rebels). The Sabbat are Vampires that succumb to their inner beast, and completely revile in their monstrous unlife. They look the part too, black eyes with red ring pupils, dark skin, claws, they are so f*cking awesome. They even have FleshCrafters, Sabbat who kidnap drifters and other lowlife to use their meat and bones and stuff to make servants and creatures for fighting. In one level, you have to find a Nosferatu hiding out in the deep, deep sewers, and the Sabbat are trying to clean them out with FleshCrafted monsters. God, some of the sh*t I saw down there was really twisted, I mean f*cked up.




A Gothic RPG?


Yes, Vampire: Bloodlines is the most gothic game I have ever seen. It is set in a modern gothic society, with many references to the culture. Character models wear their hair down one side and skull T-Shirts. Every city has its own Raver Club with some really good Gothic metal playing (And a girl you can try to hit on, unsucsessfully) One of your first clients you work for wears bleeding mascara and a school girl outfit. This game is very gothic, down to the last detail.


The Graphics


It runs off of the Source Engine, which is used to run Half Life 2 and CounterStrike Source. It looks pretty good graphically, but the Source Engine hasn't been used very well. This game is a total lagfest. Loading times a decent, but once in the game, turning a street corner can result in speeds of up to 5 frames a second, then go to a steady 15 or 20. The Ragdoll and object Physics are all up to Source standards. The Characters face design is also top quality, but sadly the bodys look very average, with clothing often just textured on.


The Gameplay


Some of the battle sequences lag up a bit, but when you can get a good speed, the combat is fast paced and enjoyable. Melee weapons have several attacks, some of which can send opponents crashing into walls. The gunplay is also surprisingly good for a stat based RPG. No bonus for headshots though, its a universal dame system, so aim for the chest, less chance of missing.

You can hack into computers and switch off cameras and open doors. Some will turn their noses up at a stealthy approach like this, but you gain nothing from fighting, other then what you opponent drops. Experiance points are given out after completeing quests, so killing sprees will earn you nothing. Except maybe a surprise visit from a Hunter. Hunter you say? Yes, your character has two stats called Humanity, and Masquerade. Your humanity meter is how close you are to your humaness. Kill innocents, or perform horrible acts in certain moral choice sections, and you loose humanity. A lower humanity count will change your dialogue options and give you more of a chance of Frenzy. Frenzy is a Hunger/anger induced rage, giving you no control over the character, who will go on a killing spree.

The Masquerade meter has five points. If you are seen feeding, or perform a supernatural power in the midst of mortals, you will betray the Masquerade, and invoke the wrath of Vampire Hunters. You can redeem these points at some times during the game, but if you loose all five points, a Blood Hunt will be called on you, and its game over.


Final Verdict


More games need to be as bold as this, storyline wise. Its very adult oriented though. One missiong found me in a Porn shop, where I had to buy information about a snuff video, then kill a Vampire hunter posing as a stripper.


Very good game, but the lag is a major problem.

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