Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines
Time Spent: (A rough estimate is fine if the game doesn't track it)
Multiple hundred hours across multiple characters.
Do you recommend?
What you rate the game: (1 to 10)
I've played this game many times throughout the year, usually i run a playthrough once a year. However, previously when i first heard about it, i kept hearing on the internet about how atmospheric it was and how it was a perfect representation of being a vampire in modern times (at least in 2004). On top of the fantastic voice acting from a number high profile voice actors, i was interested and by time i got through Santa Monica, the first area, i was hooked.
Gameplay and Story:
The gameplay consists of a third person and first person perspective. When using guns your camera switches to a first person perspective where you can also use your disciplines (spells) and third person when using melee weapons such as a sledgehammer or your fists. Quite honestly, probably one of the weakest aspects of the game, that i will continue further down along the line.
The game also has a number of skills throughout the game that you can increase that give you several ways to get through an area and can spec yourself how you want to be. Do you want to be a sneaky assassin that is more willing to get in and out of areas without being caught? Do you want to be a gigantic juggernaut who is willing to take numerous amount of bullets while feeding on your enemies? Or do you want to be the seductive or charismatic vampire that is willing to convince others to stand down, or even fight for you? Well that is all possible. Don't be afraid to experiment with other skills. I will say that 1 skill is only really useless and that's the inspection skill. It really doesn't do much aside from highlighting items you will probably see anyway.
On top multiple skills, the game reflects to it's title name, Bloodlines and because this is an RPG there are 7 clans to pick from when you start the game. Each clan has their own unique special abilities, and lore. For example, the Brujah are your basic warrior class in an RPG, their entire premise is being freedom fighters and are always known for being the first ones in and last ones out when they see corruption in power positions in the city. You can also be opposite in the Tremere. Known as blood mages, the Tremere are known for backstabbing other clans to further their own clan's ambitions, which is why they are usually not trusted. DO NOT PLAY MALKAVIAN OR NOSFERATU ON YOUR FIRST PLAY THROUGH, NOSFERATU CHANGES THE GAME QUITE DRAMATICALLY IN HOW YOU ARE ABLE TO INTERACT WITH PEOPLE MEANING, YOU HAVE TO MOVE AROUND THE SEWERS FOR MANY PARTS OF THE GAME AND MALKAVIAN'S VOICE IN YOUR HEAD WILL POTENTIALLY GIVE YOU SPOILERS BECAUSE OF THEIR CLAN'S INCREDIBLE INSIGHT. That being said it is often regarded as Malkavian is the most popular clan because of how different dialogue is and how funny the character interactions are. But as i said, i would only recommend playing Malkavian on your second playthrough.
The story of the game starts you off as becoming embraced illegally by a member of the clan you chose and their execution. You are essentially then dropped off in the middle of Santa Monica after help from your friendly neighborhood Brujah, Smiling Jack you are essentially the lackey to your cities prince. I won't go deep into the story because it's best to experience it yourself. But you will be dealing with multiple types of creatures including vampires, werewolves, psychopaths, Italian mobsters and much much more.
The game had a troubled development with deadlines that needed to be met and a brand new engine, the source engine, made life incredibly complicated for Troika Games. The game was released the same day as Half-life 2 thus was very overshadowed when it was first released and while Activision pushed heavily for them to release the game on top, Troika Games eventually had to give in and release the game in a very VERY broken state. However, just a few months after release, a modder decided to create an unofficial patch to help fix these bugs. The modder eventually transferred development of the patch over to another user Wesp5 and he has been working on the development of the patch ever since. He still updates the patch to this day and has been working on it for over 10 years. More talk about this patch later.
Pros: (At least 2 reasons)
I just stated that the game was released in an incredibly unfinished and broken state. How are there pros? Well underneath the game's troubles were countless positive attributes to this game. First off, the voice acting is phenominal. Every character, and i mean yes, EVERY character's voice acting is top notch. From major characters to side character, every character feels very well acted. This also plays a part in the personality of many characters. Grey DeLisle does a fantastic job voicing many of the NPCs throughout the game and gives a stellar performance to one of the most iconic characters in the game, Jeanette Voerman.
On top of the characters and acting being top notch, the music is phenomenal. The gothic setting of the universe goes very well with the music and from the over-world score with the great selection of Darkwave and gothic rock bring you perfectly into the environment.
The wide variety of environments and areas you will be going through are all very well made, especially in the beginning of the game. One memorable mission the Ocean House Hotel, often regarded as the best mission in the game for its very scary and thrilling tale of a murder in the haunted hotel. Many praise it for the same reason of "Even though you are a strong vampire, the hotel gives you a great lesson of there is stuff you don't understand and are powerless towards" and i feel this is a perfect statement for this. It's one of the only missions in a game that genuinely scares me, every time i go through even though i know what will happen.
Cons: (At least 2 reasons)
As previously stated, the game was released in a broken state and for the game to be even playable you need the use of an external download. It is free, but even then there are just something modders CANNOT fix. The animations can be incredibly silly, basically laugh out loud funny. When you are walking around in cutscenes, it may look incredibly awkward as you side step to your destination, or when your character's eyes start to bug out in certain cutscenes. These moments aren't super uncommon and they are noticeable, but they aren't game breaking. There was one incident of a quest marker being broken when i last played it last month, but thankfully that was at the beginning of the game and i was able to restart to play it.
Another con, would be the combat. The combat just isn't good. A lot of the time by the end of the game, you will be relegated to using fire arms because of how broken they are and at times the game can throw you into a tough situation where the difficulty spikes. (The Sewers in Hollywood is the worst area in the game. Bring a lot of blood packs and ammo (THOUGH, DO NOT SKIP YOUR FIRST TIME, YOUR FIRST PLAY THROUGH SHOULD SEE WHAT IT IS LIKE). Some of these difficult spikes come unexpectedly where, one moment you are slaughtering through a bunch of goons, only to find one boss takes a lot of hits and dishes a lot of damage to the point where you might die in a few hits.
This game is a masterpiece when it comes to roleplaying, atmosphere, and story. Not only does it keep you interested with how your characters take part in becoming a major player in the city but also how your character grows as a vampire. It's pretty clear that the game's quality and decision making of what you want to do in the game is by far most complete at the start of the game and kinda falls a bit in quality by the end, but it is attributed to the lack of support activision gave to the game, on top of a new engine . Don't let this scare you off from playing one of the best RPGs PC can possibly give you. By the end of the game you will feel like a head player in the vampire world on top of making allies and enemies. The unofficial patch fixes a lot of bugs as well as restores content that is cut from the game, including quests, areas, dialogue and decisions you make in quests to give you more freedom in solving quests how you want to do them. They also unlock some quests that were previously only available for a certain clan. the link will be down below.
Oh, and your dance moves are amazing.
DO NOT PLAY THIS GAME WITHOUT THE UNOFFICIAL PATCH. (Current Version as of this review, 10.4)
Downloads - VTMB Unofficial Patch mod for Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines - Mod DB
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