Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Review: Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines

Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines (VTMB) was the last RPG released by developer Trokia, RIP. Buggy at release, but fixed with patches both official and fan made, VTMB has become a classic with RPG aficionados. Interestingly, VTMB was one of the first games to use Valve's synonymous source engine. Vampire the Masquerade is an RPG system created by White Wolf in a time before Buffy (the movie) and the vampire lore ruining crapfest Twilight.

When you start a new game, character creation is either questionnaire based, like ultima, or player selected. You can choose a clan from the available seven in the masquerade, each has their own skill set and abilities. There is a humanity stat to gauge your bloodthirsty-ness and a masquerade gauge to determine how well you keep actions hidden from the general populace. Discretion with your vampiric actions is required to maintain the masquerade.

You start the game human, but not for long; a cutscene shows your fate. As a fledgling vampire you are trained in the ways of the masquerade, learn who your enemies are, test your skills, learn what it takes to survive, drink blood, and fight. After the tutorial the game is divided into hub areas each of which are over-the-shoulder free roam.

Vampire masquerade can be played in the usual classic RPG ways; good, evil or neutral. Fighting can be executed with claws, melee weapons or guns. Your strong vampire abilities usually require an amount of blood to use and blood comes in packs, necks, other vampires and rats. I always knew blood banks were suspicious. NPCs usually have large dialog trees and their reactions to your comments are shown on their faces. Playing as a Malkavian also unlocks some interesting dialog options, but it generally isn't recommended to play your first game as a madly insightful Malkav.

Along the path of vamprism you'll meet interesting characters, deal with factional warfare, cut a path through your enemies, hack computers, shoot and bite people and generally have a good time. This RPG is one of my favorites and is definitely worth playing; go play it.


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