I recently had to reinstall Windows on my pc. Downloading and installing most of my favourite games is a long and boring process, but while browsing my steam library, I spotted a little, lost gem; Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines.
This game is based on the pen and paper RPG by WhiteWolf and although I have always been more of a Werewolf: The Apocalypse-girl, I do have a soft spot for this game.
The pc game released by Troika Games in 2004 suffers from lots of bugs and if you want to play it these days, I really have to urge you to download the fan patch as well. The game was not just released with a lot of bugs, but it also felt somewhat unfinished. Now that’s a big flaw for a game, but there is so much charm and story that most fans of this game are happy to look beyond that.
The biggest thing going for this game is the story and the characters in this game. It stays very true to the RPG background of the game. You start of picking one of the clans at the beginning of the game and are turned into a member of that clan. Choosing a clan means you have your own specialities and it can influence how you play the game a lot.
Toreadors are the artistic and sensitive vampires, very good ad seduction. Malkavians are cursed with madness and can clairvoyance without knowing what they see. Tremere’s are like vampire warlocks who use blood magic and aren’t trusted much by the other kindred. And there are many other clans to choose from.
The game does really well with creating a creepy atmosphere at times (The Ocean House Hotel quest had me jump in my seat at times), but it still retains a sense of humour. The reason why I keep coming back to this story is creating a character sheet that can alter parts of the game over and over again. Dialogues are different depending on where you put your points into. Or if you play a Malkavian or Nosferatu you have to play the game different from a Brujah or Tremere.
I’m happy I get to choose to play this game in 1st of 3rd person view, however you do get forced to play in 1st person if you are shooting and 3rd person if you are using a melee weapon.
I mentioned before that the bugs are sometimes really, glaringly obvious. I had to restart the game from several saved files; just because I couldn’t open a door or I just got stuck in a wall. This can cause a lot of frustration. I I have to say that the unofficial patches have helped with the worst bugs.
Now another thing that is quite horrible in this game is the combat. First time I played through this game as a Toreador and I put most of my points into the abilities that would help with interacting with the NPC’s. Not that this will help you much, because the game will force you to get into combat situations despite being able to persuade an enemy if this was the pen and paper version of the game. If you pick this game up, I would advise you to put points into armed combat to begin with and later on make the switch to fire arms and to invest some points into that.
When you get towards the ending of the game, you do get the feeling that the studio started to run out of money and time. It feels unfinished at times and like you are missing huge chunks of the story. Again, the unofficial patch will help fix some of this.
Then there’s the sewers….. just….. ugh!!!!!
Keep into consideration that this game is older and the graphics, without the patch are very blurry. There are resolution patches out there to make the game look a lot better. The style of the game gives it that Gothic, moody gloom at times, which only helps to create more atmosphere. It’s not just the gloomy graphics, the music is really good in this game. It just fits every area perfectly and it’s one of those soundtracks that will stick with you forever. All in all not such bad things for an older game.
The one thing that might burn your eyes is the dancing in the night clubs….. It’s not pretty.
However, there is also some good news: the creators from Styx: Master of Shadows and Blood Bowl (Cyanide Studio) have said they are working on a Werewolf: the Apocalypse game. Of course this will take place within the same world (of Darkness) as Vampire: the Masquerade. I am so looking forward to this, but I’m still going to keep my fingers and toes crossed that they will release a new Vampire: the Masquerade game too.