Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines

Review

posted 12/27/2004 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: PC
The release of Half-Life 2 meant two things for gamers. The fist is that one of the most anticipated games of the year was finally out and the second was that the developers at Troika would finally be able to release their Source based game Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines. If you believe what you read on the internet, the game has actually been done for quite some time but they were unable to release the game until Half-Life 2 was released. It was also nice to finally get my hands on the game that John and I had seen at the last two E3’s.

Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines is the latest installment in the Vampire series but it represents my first foray into the franchise. Originally based on a pen and paper role playing game, it has a huge back story for gamers to dive into. As you might have guessed from the title, you play a vampire in the game. Rather than the cheesy Count Dracula type vampires or the pop-culture spewing Buffy type vampires, the game goes with more of the Embrace of the Vampire/Ann Rice vampires. In this version, the vampires live as a secret society hidden away from humans. In order to keep their presence hidden (to avoid being hunted to extinction if ever found out), the vampires have a code (The Masquerade) which all vampires are supposed to follow. The Masquerade stipulates that a vampire can’t feed on people in a public place, use their vampiric powers in front of the kine (the vampire term for humans), or discuss any of the details of the lifestyle with anyone who doesn’t enjoy the occasional glass of O positive.

The politics of the vampire world are a little complication. There are seven different clans of vampires. Each clan represents a different bloodline and set of disciplines (vampire powers). You have your fancy pants Toreador, the mysterious Tremere who are shunned due to their mysterious blood magics, the horrific Nosferatu whose mere appearance is a masquerade violation, as well as four other clans to keep you busy.

Along with the clans, there are several sects of vampires that you will run across. The largest is the Camarilla who created the Masquerade and enforce its rules. The Anarchs, who are a little more free-thinking about their role in the world and reject the Camarilla and everything they represent, and the Sabbat who feel the vampire race should take over the world. There are some other sects but these three represent the biggest ones in the game and I wouldn’t want to ruin the fun of discovering some of the cooler parts of the game.

Once you’ve installed all three gigabytes of the game onto your hard drive, you have to pick the clan and gender of your vampire. You can either straight out pick what you want or you can have the game ask you a few questions about how you want to play the game and the game will make a recommendation for you (Old school Ultima style). It’s a fairly important decision as it determines the set of powers you have and how the other characters in the game will react to you. Once you’ve picked which clan to use, you have to setup the initial characteristics of your vampire. They are broken into three main categories of attributes (strength, charisma, appearance, dexterity, etc), abilities (melee combat, ranged combat, lock picking, stealth, finance…), and disciplines (your vampire powers). Your character also has feats which are derived from the attributes and abilities. For example, your dexterity will increase your defense and lock picking skills. The game does a good job of showing you how the skills impact the feats.
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