So as I have discussed in detail the game of Vampire the Masquerade as well as to a lesser extent the other games from the World of Darkness mythos. But I have not discussed in any great detail the spin offs that the games have created. White Wolf Publishing is no strangers to other forums of media when it comes to their product. Nope, the roleplaying company has found new ground in the realms of television and video games. Most of which have been hit and miss… Well a lot more miss than hit as some have been rather appalling and almost all of them have slipped into obscurity. Kindred: The Embraced was absolute trash that I will review some day in the future and few people, even WoD fans knows that there is a Hunter: The Reckoning video game series or a game called Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption even exist. But out of all of these games and TV Shows there is one bright and shining gem of the series that tends to be heralded as a fantastic game by fans, critics, and non-fans alike and that is Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. The game that truly portrays the gritty and gothic punk atmosphere of its source material, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines brings the World of Darkness to life while keeping it in the fun and immersive world of Los Angeles complete with excellent RPG and level up mechanics.
Set in the city of Los Angeles during the mid 2000’s, you as the player take on the role of a newly embraced vampire. After the Prince of Los Angeles, Sebastian La Croix (Andy Milder) gets word of the embrace he has your sire executed for creating a new vampire without his advice. As you are about to be executed, you are saved by the leader of the Anarchs Nines Rodriguez (Armando Valdez) who convinces the Prince to spare you. Due to Nines’ save and the Prince’s generosity you are free to explore Los Angeles and make a name for yourself in the new kindred society as you do jobs for the Prince including uncovering an ancient sarcophagus, work for a deranged set of twins named Janette and Therese Voerman (Grey DeLisle), and learn the ends and outs of Vampire culture as you are pulled in every direction by those trying to earn your favor.
Due to the fact that it mixes elements of the pencil and paper RPG character sheets in with the video game RPG level up system, it lends itself to a unique style that is different from other games. Now of course, there is only so many ways you can level up a character in an RPG so the elements of leveling up your strength, dexterity, etc is all in there. However by creating the system to look just like the pencil and paper version of the game and include ways you can level up your various disciplines, humanity, as well as your abilities and skills makes this a very fun part of the game. Due to this, there is a multitude of ways you can play. Maybe you aren’t the strongest guy, that is cool you can always hack systems and find ways through certain areas. Maybe you are the strong beat ’em up type and just want to barrel through creatures with little to no contest. That works as well. It makes you want to play the game over and over again just to get the full experience.
This game, more than any other video game or show based on White Wolf Publishing is the most accurate to the gothic punk source material. The world feels gritty, it feels dark, you see the sleaze around you and your character absolutely revels in it. World of Darkness has a very specific world that it builds around it and this game brings it to life. Any time you play a World of Darkness game, you picture the world around you in your head. This is exactly how I would see Los Angeles if I were to create a story in that setting. There are gothic night clubs, vandals, ghouls, murderers, and vampiric cults everywhere. The tone and the feel of the world is perfect and a strong part of this game.
I can understand that a game needs to cut corners here and there and considering that tackling an RPG version of a World of Darkness game is a tough order to fill, I would have still liked to have seen a little bit more character creation in the beginning. Out of the original 13 clans, you are only allowed to choose the 7 clans that were originally in the Camarilla. Sorry, no independents or Sabbat for you. We don’t like special butterflies. Also out of the clans, you can choose between a male character and female character of each of the seven clans. However you cannot choose to customize your character and instead are stuck with one of the fourteen pre-made characters.
While these characters do fit with what the clan would wear and look like rather well, I still would have liked to have had a little more personalization when it comes to my characters. Maybe it is because Bethesda has forever ruined my expectations on character creation, but it would have made the experience complete if I could have completely customized the characters look to fit my vision for my character instead of using a general predefined character to work with. It isn’t a con because they still add A LOT of creativity in designing a character. I was just hoping they would go that little extra distance.
I guess it is just a staple of Activision to release half-finished games in the hopes that people will buy them because without some heavy patches from die-hard fans of the series, this game is almost unplayable. It is covered in bugs and game ending glitches, most of which can be fixed by both official and unofficial patches. Granted, this game as it stands now has been patched to the point that it has become a fantastic game, so you should not worry if you pick it up today. BUT I cannot give it a pass for the way the game was released in the 2000’s when it could barely run. With patches, this game is phenomenal. But without them you will be smashing your keyboard at the levels of frustration that you will reach trying to play what is essentially an unplayable game.
Yes, the game has its bugs and glitches. Even with the massive amounts of patches, some still persist. But that should not stop you from playing a great game! The setting and the tone of the story are amazing. Even though some of the character creation is limited, it still gives you a multitude of options and styles with which to play. It is a game you can become immersed in. If you are a World of Darkness fan, this game is a must play and if you are not, I strongly recommend it. You will not be disappointed.
Final Score 4/5
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