Friday, March 4, 2016

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines - Initial Thoughts

About the Game (From the Steam Store Page)

 Vampire®: The Masquerade-Bloodlines™ delivers a new type of RPG experience-one that blends all the core elements of a traditional RPG with the graphical richness, immediacy and brutal combat of a first-person action game. The game plunges players into the dark and gritty vampire underworld of modern-day L.A. as a creature of the night. Players will develop their character's powers, interact with other characters and embark on story-driven quests as they battle mortals and other vampires with an incredible array of vampire powers and weapons. Powered by Valve's Source Technology, the game is based on White Wolf's popular Vampire: The Masquerade pen-and-paper RPG series and its official clans.

Previous Playtime

1.7 hours

What Was I Thinking When I Bought This

Over the years I've played a lot of the Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop game, and so a video game based on those rules intrigues me right of the bat (no pun intended). That Bloodlines also has something of a legendary reputation among the forums I frequent also helps matters along.

I don't remember the exact circumstances surrounding my purchase of this game, but I imagine it went something like "hey, this game everyone's been talking about is on sale for 75% off, I think I'll get it and see what all the fuss is about."

Expectations and Prior Experience

This is another one of those games where I've played through the tutorial, resolved to get back to it sooner or later, and then never did. From what I remember about the game, it seemed like a typical early 2000s 3rd person action-rpg. It felt like I had a lot of freedom in a very limited environment. Of course, I was still barely into the game at all, so I can't say whether or not it would have opened up or whether many of the apparent options were, in fact, trap choices, but my initial impression was that for its time it was an open-ended game.

What I'm expecting, going into it with more than a decade's worth of advancements in the open-world genre, is that it will be fun as an archaeological exercise, but that it won't have aged well, and I will soon run into the limitations of its outdated technology and subsequently the game's unavoidable limitations will frustrate me more than they should. I'm put in mind of another tabletop-based crpg game - Baldur's Gate, where I could admire the deftness with which the pen-and-paper game's rules were implemented, but ran into problems when it turned out that a faithful recreation of a tabletop game doesn't really work without a DM to moderate.

My biggest worry is that I'll commit to a character build and then, as I go through the game I discover that some of my chosen skills are useless because this is one of those games where you're given limitless freedom, but at the price of limitless freedom to screw up. I'm also worried that, given its age, things like in-game maps and quest logs will be inadequate. The last thing I want is to be stuck not knowing where to go with a character who specialized in computer hacking when the game expects me to be a combat monster.

Still, I can't imagine this game would have come to be known as such a classic if it were in the habit of pissing people off, so I'll probably be all right.

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