Friday, March 4, 2016

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines - 2/20 hours

I'm not too far into this game yet, but one thought has been dominating my first impressions - "damn, I wish this were a modern game." As I walk through the streets of the World of Darkness' Santa Monica, I can't help but see a dozen flaws that aren't really flaws so much as they are signs of the game's age. There needs to be about five times as many NPCs mulling around. Exploration needs to be more vertical. Alleys need to be narrower and have greater rewards for looking down them. There needs to be more ambient storytelling, where you overhear conversations between random strangers that reveals to you the details of the game's world. You know, stuff that wasn't invented in 2004 and probably technologically impossible besides.

I'm going to own this as a flaw on my part. It's not right of me to compare the art direction to something like Arkham City or your vampire's disciplines to the powers in more recent open-world superhero games like Crackdown or Prototype. It's just hard to pretend like the last ten years haven't happened.

Assuming I can, however, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines stands on its own as a pretty good game. It definitely captures the sexy-goth/overcompensating nerd aesthetic that I've come to associate with Vampire: the Masquerade, and haunted house level was genuinely creepy. I'm not too far into the story, but it looks interesting in that frustrating way crpg stories can get when they don't quite trust you to stay on the rails.

You are some random slob who was made into a vampire ("embraced") by someone who lacked the permission of the head vampire in town ("Prince" Lacroix). So the Prince killed your maker ("sire") and then offered you a choice - "work for me or I'll kill you." In the first two hours, at least, that has mainly involved going from vampire to vampire and not commenting on the fact that they're demanding favors in exchange for you doing something that would benefit them immensely if they simply helped you do without making you jump through hoops (attack a hidden outpost of the "Sabbat," vampires who don't care about hiding from humanity, and are also even bigger dicks than your own faction, "the Camarilla.")

The arbitrariness of the tasks (so far, taking out a gang of drug dealers and removing a locket from a haunted house) is not something I'm going to hold against it though. An rpg wouldn't be an rpg if quest-giving NPCs didn't jerk you around for no conceivable reason. What makes the game most interesting to me is the fact that I'm familiar with the setting of the table-top rpg and so far Bloodlines seems like a pretty faithful recreation of it. I can't wait to get farther into the game and see how deep into the often bizarre rabbit hole of World of Darkness canon this game dares to go.


  1. There's a devoted modding community for this game that you may wish to explore. I'm pretty sure it includes mods for updated graphics and additional dialogue.


    1. Nice. If you have any particular suggestions, I'd love to hear them

    2. I wish I did. I played the game not long after it came out, and as much as I enjoyed it, I haven't revisited it. Consequently, I haven't tried out any of the various mods.