Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines ReviewCain Dornan
The PC is home to some of the best-known and highly regarded RPG titles. With the ability to create and control a large world easily using the keyboard and mouse, players around the world have enjoyed playing easily-controlled and enjoyable RPG titles that pack plenty of hours of gameplay. Vampires: The Masquerade Bloodlines is no different. Providing a believable world that immerses players into the role of a newly sired vampire, a number of different gameplay paths, a variety of different vampires to choose from and a huge list of different conversations with hundreds of realistically detailed creatures, Bloodlines proves to be one of the best vampire titles to be delivered to gamers for some time.
Vampires: The Masquerade Bloodlines is set in a fictional version of Los Angeles. Playing as a newly sired vampire, you are first given the run-down on the life of vampires and how everything works. After participating in some short, rather boring training, you are set free into the world. Sticking to a set of laws known as the Masquerade, which punishes those who reveal any vampiric activities to humans, you must begin living your life and completing quests. If you are caught committing any offences against the Masquerade, such as sucking blood in front of other humans, a horde of police, vampire hunters and those who uphold the law will be after your flesh and you will lose a humanity point. Lose them all, and you will receive a Game Over.
Before you begin the game, you are required to select a family of vampires, also referred to as the kindred, which you wish to belong to. Each kindred possess their own unique abilities, reputation and appearance. The Gangrel kindred, for example, have an appearance like an ugly beast and are able to take on animal forms. The Toreador, on the other hand, looks remarkably similar to actual human, making it easy able to mingle with humans. Each kindred feature their own unique abilities and also have different feeding abilities. Once you have selected a vampire, you are required to then evaluate and distribute a limited amount of experience points among the rang of different attributes, such as charisma, strength, intelligence, intimidation and stealth. Each ability also determines how you will be required to play the game. For example, if you place a large amount of experience points on strength, you will possess strong physical brawling. Putting more experience points on intelligence will result in you being able to learn things quicker.
Each kindred are able to source their blood from a range of creatures. The Nosferatu, for example, mainly rely on rats for their source of blood, as their hideous appearance is likely to frightening anyone before you can get close enough to feed. The Ventrue, on the other hand, mainly rely on healthy humans for their blood source, being the most wealthy and upper-class of all vampires. Feeding on bums or prostitutes often results in the Ventrue vomiting up the blood, and can never feed on rats.
Throughout LA you will encounter a large range of interesting characters that will often have a good conversation with you and ask for you to complete missions, which often hold a reward. There are also a large number of other, non-interactive citizens that are simply on show to make LA feel more alive, which works very well. AI intelligence is generally good, however at times your victims will fail to see you even when you are standing in front of them resulting in easy feeding.
The fighting mechanics arent quite as good as they need to be. Often, your character is easily knocked about by enemies, particularly when there are multiple in the area. Even when your fighting skills are high, an ordinary human is still able to repel an attack too commonly proving to be a frustrating experience at times. The weapon mechanics, however, are more polished and offer for some more enjoyable combat. A range of weapons is on offer, including pistols, sledgehammers and katanas.
Although a lot of action is present in Bloodlines, there are several occasions that require stealth. With stealth being one of your attributes which you can spend experience points on, these sections can range from being difficult to easy, depending upon how much experience points you were willing to spend on them. Even when your experience on stealth is low, it is quite remarkable as to how your enemies have abnormally short sight. Enemies often dont even see you when you are only standing a metre in front of them with dull light, resulting in many of the stealth missions being too easy.
A major problem with Bloodlines is the abundance of bugs and glitches. Although they are limited and only occur occasionally at the beginning of the game, towards the end they begin to become more numerous and noticeable. Animation flickering and motionless characters begin to appear all-too-often towards the end, dramatically reducing the interest in actually completing the game. Luckily though, the amount of unique and interesting gameplay that is on offer throughout the game helps to combat the problems.
Based on Valves Source Engine, which was also used in the highly regarded Half-Life 2, the graphics in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines offers impressive and realistic detail. Characters offer amazingly real animations especially facial creating an interesting visual presentation and providing a range of different character personalities. The amount of expressions that are produced during conversations with characters is very impressive. To top this offer, characters move fluently (when bugs arent occurring) and generally look realistic all-round.
The attention to detail in almost all environment conditions is commendable. The buildings, both interior and exterior, feature extensive detail and look believable. The city streets at night offer some very impressive lighting effects in a moody, wary atmosphere.
As with the gameplay bugs, the graphics side also offers a fair share, although noticeably less, bugs. Occasionally, characters will somehow glide along the ground rather than walking. Flickering textures also appear, although rarely, especially during conversations. Frame rate drops also occur too often throughout the game, especially during high-action sequences when a number of characters are on-screen.
Some interesting and appropriate music is on offer, which adds to the gamepaly greatly to create a moody, vampiric world. The music sometimes feels soothing fitting the whole dark world perfectly. The music varies depending on your location, such as the thumping, catchy music in nightclubs to the haunting music that is found whilst your explore the dark depths of LA.
A large number of voice actors have lent their talent to produce a large amount of quality voice-overs. Each character has their own unique personality within their voice, offering for some interesting conversations with the hundreds of AI players that you encounter throughout the course of the game.
Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines is a solid RPG title that offers a lengthy story mode that has plenty of replayability potential. With hundreds of different conversations, a variety of different ways in which you can complete missions depending upon the kindred you choose and a very moody, appropriate atmosphere provides for some compelling and interesting gameplay to be enjoyed. Bloodlines is the best vampiric RPG titles to ever be released, and is recommend to all vampire and RPG fans.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.