First and foremost, Vampire: The Masquerade is a horror game, and “Bloodlines” excels at this. “Bloodlines” barely rises above its many bugs (even after the latest fan patch) to deliver a compelling new vision of an RPG.
Layered throughout run-of-the-mill quest lines (fetch this, kill this guy) are truly unique scenarios. A fetch quest at a haunted house becomes a battle to free a trapped spirit, an investigation quest requires you not to kill guards despite how easy it could b
e, and tracking people are genuine dialogue based mysteries. Yet even when there is a simple fetch and kill quest, but there's still care placed in how you do it and what you encounter. As I invariably do in a lot of these, I want for diplomatic solutions, some of which are not possible (though sometimes it is, making it all the more displeasing). That being said, violent actions have consequences, and the game rewards you not by kill, but by quest conclusion. In other words, if my character sneak pasts a few gangbangers to do your job, you'll receive the same experience as you would if you ran in bearing fangs with guns blazing.
MMOs can learn a thing or two from this model.
My character went through a haunted house, was ambushed for predatory politics, hunted, killed a serial killer and blew up a warehouse protected by animalistic Sabbat vampires. That was just the tutorial.
The graphics are dated and buggy. It won't even work in windows 7 without the fan made "True Gold" patch. Animation is sloppy, some work seems rushed, and even on easy, combat is unforgiving due to poor controls.
Despite being rushed and limited, all of these characters feel fleshed out. A lot of real thought went into them, even npcs that last less than a scene. The baron of Santa Monica is an excellent introduction to both vampire politics and the world if of darkness. A serial killer from a sidequest has his motivation and psychosis spelled out in the subtext of his first few lines. The anarchs all have distinct identities and histories, and the Camarilla revel in being enigmatic and mysterious. This game remains almost as deep and interesting as your average Pen and Paper session.
While I’m only a couple of hours in, at the moment, it’s recommended.
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