Game: "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines"
System: PC
Genre: RPG
Published by: Activision

Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Posted: 7/20/2008

Review: There aren’t many games out there that I consider to be true classics, but V:TM – Bloodlines is among them. It’s just too bad I’m in the minority on that one.

For the uninitiated, Vampire: The Masquerade is a DnD-type game built on the premise that vampires and other supernatural creatures are real, but the vampires choose to hide their true nature from mankind for fear of inciting a nasty crusade. In Bloodlines, your character has been thrown into this complex world of underworld politics and goth fashions after a one-night-stand with a vampire. You’ll have to land on your feet and adapt to your new lifestyle quickly, or else wind up a pile of ash. So, no pressure.

On the upshot, being a vampire means you’re much stronger than the average human, your wounds heal quickly, and you’re highly resistant to bullets. Plus, depending on your vampire “clan”, you’ll have access to a variety of blood-fueled “disciplines” like celerity (super speed) and potence (super strength), as well as more exotic disciplines like thaumaturgy (blood-based projectiles and such) and protean (sprout claws and transform into a vicious beast!). Of course, all this is dependent on your ability to get that precious blood. Without it, you won’t be doing anything overly impressive, and you risk regressing into a berserker rage.

Combat does play a large part in the game. Disciplines can be used by themselves to stop your enemies, or they can be used to bolster your other combat abilities, namely melee and ranged combat. Melee combat is great for dealing major damage to a single foe, but the trouble is you have to get to them first. Ranged, on the other hand, lets you engage from a distance, but it doesn’t work quite so well against vampires.

Then again, maybe violence isn’t the answer. Maybe you prefer to boost your character’s social skills so that they can negotiate with the gang of baseball bat-wielding thugs. Therein lies the beauty of Bloodlines: every situation has multiple solutions, and experience is awarded based on solving the solutions, rather than the body count you rack up. There are even times when you can unlock additional quests simply by being particularly skilled in a single area such as hacking.

It was the variety of solutions to problems in the game that kept me coming back, but it was the presentation that kept me from getting bored during the slow parts. Troika did an excellent job portraying the different parts of Los Angeles that you’ll be visiting as a vampire. Likewise, the dialog in the game is fantastic, especially if you choose to play as one of the terminally-insane Malkavian vampires. Great detail was also put into the character models, particularly the female vampires.

Some of the character animations, however, don’t quite measure up to that same standard. While in dialog, some NPCs will smile, frown, and gesticulate, but these animations run the gamut from “believable” to “his eye is clipping through his face”. The worst, though, is saved for the in-game cutscenes. In many cases, such animations will fail to sync with the sound, end too soon, and otherwise look hilariously bad.

All of that could’ve been fixed with a little QA, but that brings me to the game’s most glaring flaw: as part of Activision’s continuing quest to drive all their developers out of business, the game was rushed onto the market, and the result is painfully clear. Bugs abound in this game, most of them superficial, but you’ll still find a few crashes in the mix. Unfortunately, Troika folded before they could fix more than a fraction of these bugs, but fan-made patches do exist.

Lastly, I wanted to mention that despite coming from the V:TM universe, the game is thankfully minimizes the goth influence. The clubs around LA are filled with women with too much eye shadow, and men that look like the lead singer of AFI, but other than that, the emphasis is more on mimicking the real LA, and thank god for that. The last thing I need is a bunch of vampires whining about how unlife is even worse than life.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

frappez le cochon rouge
Jul 21st, 2008, 05:28 AM
Malkavians are the best clan. I enjoy talking to the TV and having it talk back to me.
Jul 21st, 2008, 08:28 AM
NOTE: system says it's for "arcade" above, should be "PC"?
Feel the guilt
Jul 21st, 2008, 09:19 AM
Yep, this game truly is a classic. And if only they'd had some more time to work on it, it could have been even better. Most of the bugs didn't annoy me that much, I just got the fan patches, so that was fine. would've been nice if they could have improved combat though. Definitley the weakest part of the game.
Serial Loiterer
Jul 21st, 2008, 11:25 AM
This game is my all time favorite PC game. I once made an audio CD filled with nothing but dialogue clips from this game cause they were so damn funny. Sadly this is also the most glitchiest game I've ever owned. I have to save the game everytime before feeding because 20% of the time it cause the entire computer to crash. That with loading times long enough to sit down and read a book in, would normally make me give up on a game, but I can't stop playing it. This game rocks!
Jul 21st, 2008, 11:33 AM
Vampires are cool.
Funky Dynamite
Jul 21st, 2008, 12:24 PM
Originally Posted by executioneer View Post
NOTE: system says it's for "arcade" above, should be "PC"?
Yes, yes it should. And so it shall be.
Jul 21st, 2008, 12:59 PM
Flaws and bugs aside this is one of my favourite games of all time. Combat was wonky, but the stealth kills made up for that. The little sound bytes like hearing a crowd cheer when you bash someone on the head with a baseball bat was a nice touch.

Mainly though, it was the story that drove the game for me. That and the dark humour that popped up here and there. The "argument" between a Malkavian and the STOP sign is one of the best reasons for picking that bloodline.
Jul 21st, 2008, 01:13 PM
Some of the best voice acting in any game, ever. Oblivion could learn a thing or two from this game.....like, hire more than 10 voice actors for thousands of characters.

Arcanum is tits as well.
Ms. Sorghum Molasses '82
Jul 21st, 2008, 02:32 PM
I could never beat that fucking giant bat!
Last of the Time Lords
Jul 21st, 2008, 05:28 PM
I actually used to play the VTM rpg for a while. I have been a D&D freak for over 13 years now, but back in high school we moved to a godawful redneck town whose inhabitants were more interested in shooting beer cans and cow-tipping (seriously, I saw it happen) than dice rolling. The only other rpg-ers around were the local goths, and VTM was their game of choice.

Oh well, at least it wasn't LARPS.
Crazed Techno-Biologist
Jul 21st, 2008, 07:47 PM
thank god these come out in videogame form, which
I like to imagine helps to retard the rise of actual LARPERS.
as for other role players though,
D&D represent!
Jul 21st, 2008, 09:05 PM
yay another whitewolf world of darkness fan (yes I have a few of the books) though honestly I wish they would make a promethean game for the computer next
drifting in the void
Jul 22nd, 2008, 04:33 AM
Great game, thanks to the fanpatches. One of my favorites. And yes, OF COURSE as a Malkavian.
Hitler's Canoe!
Jul 22nd, 2008, 09:05 AM
The only thing I really remember about the game is some level set in an abandoned hotel that scared me.
I might re-play it one of these days now that the bugs have seen sorted out a bit.
Funky Dynamite
Jul 22nd, 2008, 12:44 PM
Yes, the Ocean House sequence was really well done. It even scared me when I played through it again years later.
Cast "Summon Boat"
Jul 22nd, 2008, 07:52 PM
I remember the Ocean House! Great level design! And the escape from the werewolf was a pretty fun set piece as well. In fact, the whole game was one big awesome set piece.

My favourite part was blatantly using cheats to win the game... stupid fighting system, I can't believe a game about vampires expected me to have combat abilities! VAMPIRES ARE THE FRIENDLIEST OF ALL CREATURES OF THE NIGHT. O
Jul 22nd, 2008, 10:45 PM
"Likewise, the dialog in the game is fantastic, especially if you choose to play as one of the terminally-insane Malkavian vampires. "

According to friends who have played the game before me, you should play the game twice. Once as clan of choice and another as a Malkavian, just to see how vastly different the game is.

Sadly, I've owned this game for years (and it's precursor, Redeption) but I've yet to actually install and play it. Mostly, I've been needing a machine to handle the two of them and secondly, because I'm just lazy *laughs* Not to mention I'm a chicken and I've been told about the "Haunted House" portion. There's a reason I don't play Ravenloft and Cthulu.

And for those of you ragging on the LARPers, just remember that the few do not represent the many. I belonged to a couple groups in the day and they were a lot of fun. And remember, too, that if you're in the presence of *good* LARPers, you shouldn't even know it
Tinhorn varmint
Jul 23rd, 2008, 08:19 AM
One of my favourite games of all time, in spite of all the bugs, glitches and random crashes. The Ocean House level still gives me a chill down the spine when I play it. Thankfully, it's nowhere near as bed-wettingly scary as the Cradle level in Thief III...
frappez le cochon rouge
Jul 23rd, 2008, 12:43 PM
Originally Posted by Copper View Post
Sadly, I've owned this game for years (and it's precursor, Redeption) but I've yet to actually install and play it. Mostly, I've been needing a machine to handle the two of them.
It needs a 1.2 Ghz processor, 512 megs of RAM, and pretty much any video card of choice.

A toaster oven could run this game.
Funky Dynamite
Jul 23rd, 2008, 02:29 PM
Seriously. And your computer can't handle Redemption either? That's a 233mhz game, for god's sake. Buy a new computer!
Jul 24th, 2008, 02:00 AM
*laughs* Back when I bought them, I had a P.O.S. machine. Now it's just me being lazy and not installing them, mostly because I want to play Neverwinter Nights 2 instead. I try not to run too many RPGs at once or I forget where I am. That, and I worry my mother when she:
1. Comes home from work to see me sitting in front of NWN
2. Goes to bed, seeing me sitting in front of NWN
3. Gets up at 7am to see me sitting in front of NWN
4. Asks me if "That game you're playing all the time actually has an ending..."

So, yeah, I try not to get into too many games you can play/replay for hours on end, especially when I have to get up for work in the morning *laughs*
Turrican't. :(
Jul 24th, 2008, 08:32 PM
This game was pwn.
Jul 29th, 2008, 03:13 AM
I miss Troika.
drifting in the void
Jul 30th, 2008, 08:48 AM
I...think I´ll play it again tonight...maybe this time as a sane clan...even though nothing can be as much fun as being a Malkavian :D
Forum Virgin
Jul 31st, 2008, 12:29 PM
As much as I adored this game, I really hope someone makes a new one with updated graphics and, more importantly, includes the Sabbat clans, bloodlines and maybe even Kindred of the East. I typically played Tzimisce, though I had some short spats with the Giovanni, Cappadocians, Baali and Assamites in the taletop game. And who wouldn't love playing a game as a vampire that can craft weapons out of his own bones and hide them in his own organs? Hell, if worse comes to worse, one could always remove their own arm and use it as a bludgeoning implement.
drifting in the void
Aug 1st, 2008, 07:52 AM
But White Wolf scrapped the whole world of Darkness and re-imagined it. Wonder if there will be another game with the old system...or another Vampire game at all.
Imperial Stormtrooper
Aug 24th, 2008, 07:12 AM
I'd have to try this game, sounds fun.
Funky Dynamite
Aug 24th, 2008, 02:38 PM
Yeah you do.
Imperial Stormtrooper
Oct 1st, 2008, 12:12 AM
An update on my post. Bought the game but it says that vampire:bloodlines.exe won't load or whatever :/ I have a decent pc that runs Star Wars: Galaxies and World of Warcraft with like no lag. Is there a fix for this bug? Please help and thanks.