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  1. #1
    Banned PizzaSHARK's Avatar
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    Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines

    Picked up this game when it was on sale for $5 during the Halloween sale (can you believe they still think it's worth $20, 8 years later?) because I'd heard there were mods and patches and stuff that dealt with the legendary bugs and generally wonkiness that was part and parcel of the original game.

    And... well, the gameplay is still solid, but jesus christ you can see how little Troika knew what they were doing with the Source engine. Well, maybe that's not fair - after all, I'm looking back at the game 8 years after I first played it, complete with all the things I know about proper game design now.

    But, man, textures are incredibly blurry (even HL2's textures weren't this bad), and movements look so stiff and unnatural, to the point of things being unintentionally comical at times.

    But anyway, for folks that haven't heard of this game, it's a game set in the Old World of Darkness pen-and-paper roleplaying game setting, which basically means vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and other things that go bump in the night are real and are essentially controlling humanity from behind the scenes. Like the title suggests, you're a vampire, and "The Masquerade," refers to the vamps having to keep their existence a secret from humanity; because even though even the lowliest vamp is more than a match for any human, there's a hell of a lot more humans than vamps, and if humans as a whole got pissed off at them, they could easily wipe out the vamps (and likely all the other creepy-crawlies that exist in the setting.)

    As far as setting goes, the design for the vampires has plenty in common with old-school Dracula myth, mostly with the Christianity-related bits taken out. Crosses and running water don't do shit in this setting, but sunlight definitely won't make you sparkle, and fire bad... very bad. Vampires are really hard to hurt with any kind of blunt instrument (fists, baseball bats, sledgehammers, and oddly enough bullets are counted as blunt weapons), but they're as vulnerable to blades as humans are. Vampires are divided into several clans, which you pick one during character creation, each of which has its own traits and "Disciplines," which are the special abilities that define each clan. Special abilities range from supernatural speed and strength to the ability to dominate minds, drive victims (temporarily) insane, and good old-fashioned vampiric invisibility.

    Combat is pretty much entirely stat-based. Whether or not you can even hit a target will be determined by your aim, but how much damage that attack does, whether it hits them (in regards to guns), whether or not they can block or otherwise deflect the attack, and things like that are all determined via stats. Swinging around a knife you don't have the necessary skills to use properly will result in your attacks being weak and easy to defend against, and trying to use an assault rifle without much skill in ranged combat means you're going to be spraying all over the place instead of hitting the target.

    Dialogue and social interaction is a major component of the game and is again heavily stat-based, with the typical RPG "Persuasion," ability along with the ability to seduce and intimidate NPCs into compliance, or use of the "Presence," discipline (which consumes your all-purpose magic resource, blood.)

    For its time, I seem to remember the game being lauded for creating a realistic, believable world, with NPCs wandering around and doing their own things. The concept is seriously dated and pretty comical in some ways now, especially with games like the GTA series raising the bar for "believable worlds full of random NPCs living their own lives," stuff, but compared to other games back in 2004, it stood out.

    Anyway, I think I'm rambling now. Just want to advise people that if they see it on sale again (seriously, it's not worth $20 these days), go ahead and pick it up. Install the Unofficial Patch to fix a lot of miscellaneous bugs and missing content, and go nuts. You'll alternately groan or chuckle during the horribly outdated cutscenes with wooden character movements, but the gameplay itself is still pretty solid.

  2. #2
    Brewmaster Voidgazer's Avatar
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    I also got it from one of Steam sales, long, long time ago... Still in my backlog. I heard it's really good, but I can't help trying some newer (or not really so) games. One day I'll play it, one day...
    That's why you need me.... Need someone to punish you for your sins.

  3. #3
    Edit: Found a working Download link.
    http://www.gamefront.com/files/22583027
    Last edited by Kotutha; 2012-11-06 at 12:38 PM.

  4. #4
    Banned PizzaSHARK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kotutha View Post
    Quick question. The only links for the unofficial Patch are from patches-scrolls, as far as I can tell. Anyone got a alternative download, since they are having download problems?
    I was finally able to get it directly from Gamefront rather than using links elsewhere. It's a real bitch... pretty much every link I tried was broken. Just have to keep trying until you can get it, I guess.

  5. #5
    Brewmaster Klingers's Avatar
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    I absolutely loved this game when it came out. I played it right off the back of Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption and I had a lot of friends playing the WoD card game at the time, so even though I wasn't playing the card game I was immersed enough in WoD at the time to get seriously into Bloodlines. Still fond memories of that game.

    Quote Originally Posted by PizzaSHARK View Post
    And... well, the gameplay is still solid, but jesus christ you can see how little Troika knew what they were doing with the Source engine. Well, maybe that's not fair - after all, I'm looking back at the game 8 years after I first played it, complete with all the things I know about proper game design now.
    You're right and wrong there. You're right in that the engine needed a lot of work. But seriously to Troika's credit, they actually started building Bloodlines on a beta version of the source engine. HL2 wasn't even out when they started working on it. It was actually the first third-party game to come out using Source, and it wasn't that long after HL2.

    Troika deserve some mad props for putting together such a solid, immersive and (comparatively) bug-free game considering the unproven technology they were working with. Such a shame that Bloodlines was the only game they ever released.
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  6. #6
    As far as I know Troika knew the game wasn't finished and polished but had to release it a lot faster then suspected. All in all it's a extremely good game, one of the few I played even 4 years later so to say.

    The unofficial patch says enough really, I know of EXTREMELY few games who still had this kind of support from fans YEEAAAAAAARRRRSSSS after the game was released, and it is a very good and almost mandatory patch. It adds a lot Troika had to leave out, from items, to dialogue, to backgrounds (which affect stats and gameplay) for every clan etc.

    The game is very outdated, but for releasing a known unfinished product in that time, it is by far one of the best. The Malkavian dialogue options alone are enough to buy this.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Klingers View Post
    You're right and wrong there. You're right in that the engine needed a lot of work. But seriously to Troika's credit, they actually started building Bloodlines on a beta version of the source engine. HL2 wasn't even out when they started working on it. It was actually the first third-party game to come out using Source, and it wasn't that long after HL2.
    It was in fact postponed by order of Valve so HL2 would be the first Source game.

    As far as I know Troika knew the game wasn't finished and polished but had to release it a lot faster then suspected. All in all it's a extremely good game, one of the few I played even 4 years later so to say.
    While this is true, it could've come out buggier than now because the actual release date set by the publisher was much earliel. The fact HL2 delayed gave them a lot of room to iron out some of the bugs.
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  8. #8
    Banned PizzaSHARK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klingers View Post
    I absolutely loved this game when it came out. I played it right off the back of Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption and I had a lot of friends playing the WoD card game at the time, so even though I wasn't playing the card game I was immersed enough in WoD at the time to get seriously into Bloodlines. Still fond memories of that game.
    WoD seems like a fun setting if it wasn't for all of the different little versions of the game apparently having their own exclusive canon, rather than everything being one cohesive whole.

    CCP has the rights to make an (old) WoD MMO, so I'm interested to see how that pans out.

    You're right and wrong there. You're right in that the engine needed a lot of work. But seriously to Troika's credit, they actually started building Bloodlines on a beta version of the source engine. HL2 wasn't even out when they started working on it. It was actually the first third-party game to come out using Source, and it wasn't that long after HL2.

    Troika deserve some mad props for putting together such a solid, immersive and (comparatively) bug-free game considering the unproven technology they were working with. Such a shame that Bloodlines was the only game they ever released.
    Bloodlines had a "release candidate," ready a few weeks before HL2; because it was built on the Source engine, Valve wasn't letting them release it before HL2 came out. At any rate, it was a "release candidate," in name only; they were bullied by Activision into kicking it out the doors well before it was ready. And to make matters worse... Activision made them release it on the same fucking day as HL2, which shows you just how fucking stupid the people at Activision (now Actiblizzion) are when it comes to understanding gaming. (No small wonder Cataclysm was so well-received by the WoW community.)

    Troika actually released three games. Temple of Elemental Evil is the only other one I can think of offhand; I can't remember how well-received it was or not. It was a little too thick for me to figure out, but maybe I'll get it off GOG sometime and use a game guide to tell me what to do til I understand what's going on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Led ++ View Post
    As far as I know Troika knew the game wasn't finished and polished but had to release it a lot faster then suspected. All in all it's a extremely good game, one of the few I played even 4 years later so to say.
    Activision basically bullied Troika and forced them to release it; it's a pretty sordid story that makes you appreciate what crowdfunding like Kickstarter can enable developers to do.

  9. #9
    Pit Lord philefluxx's Avatar
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    I used to play the old pen and paper game. I heard this was alright.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by philefluxx View Post
    I used to play the old pen and paper game. I heard this was alright.
    Combat is utter shit but the storyline and dialogue options are some of the best in video games.

    Because of this game two of the chronicles I've run have had a nagaraja mortician that the players REALLY didn't want to fuck with. It doesn't hurt that she was voiced by Major Motoko Kusanagi.

    Oh, and that fucking hotel. Scared the shit out of me when I first played it and it still creeps me out to this day.
    Last edited by unholytestament; 2012-11-06 at 03:52 PM.
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  11. #11
    Dammit I was debating whether to play this game again. Now my Warlock and Druid will never hit 90. But the Sabbat will once again fear my shovel-wielding Nosferatu.
    Call to arms, the trumpets sound
    Hand puppets storm the base, flags up now cannons rage
    All clowns head for the rear, slingshots fire to the air
    Toy horses start the charge, Robot chessmen standing guard
    Crossfire to the marionettes, Slip into the edge of death...

  12. #12
    Combat system could've used lot more work, bugs galore, uninspired last part of the game, but despite all it's problems (and there are quite a few) it's still one of the best games I've ever played. Story, dialogue, NPC's, quests, everything was incredible (different dialogue options based on your abilities, powers or gender), huge replay value (nosferatu and malkavian are really unique), it's hard to explain, but this game had "soul".

    PS. hotel at midnight is one of best levels ever created in video games, a must to play.

  13. #13
    Ah yes this game was truly a nice gem of a game. It has its faults as others will attest to but the whole is definitely better than the sum of its parts. There is something about this game that I really liked and of course the hotel one at night was great. Of course it helps that one of the guys is voiced by Bender.

    Troika created 3 games. Arcanum (truly excellent RPG), Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, and Temple of Elemental Evil.

  14. #14
    Arcanum was pure gold, honestly. Such a well crafted RPG.

    VtM Bloodlines was beta quality at release, unfortunately. Suffered innumerable bugs and looked ghastly. The polar opposite of Arcanum's release, really.

  15. #15
    Banned PizzaSHARK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revik View Post
    Ah yes this game was truly a nice gem of a game. It has its faults as others will attest to but the whole is definitely better than the sum of its parts. There is something about this game that I really liked and of course the hotel one at night was great. Of course it helps that one of the guys is voiced by Bender.

    Troika created 3 games. Arcanum (truly excellent RPG), Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, and Temple of Elemental Evil.
    There are a lot of high-profile voice actors, actually. I know the guy that did Spike Spiegel and about half of all game voiceovers in general is in it, and so's the chick that played Major Kusanagi in the Ghost in the Shell dubs. Just need Jim Cummings and I think we're set.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by FlawlessSoul View Post
    Arcanum was pure gold, honestly. Such a well crafted RPG.

    VtM Bloodlines was beta quality at release, unfortunately. Suffered innumerable bugs and looked ghastly. The polar opposite of Arcanum's release, really.
    Man Arcanum was so good. I must have replayed the beginning at least a dozen times just to get the abilities and perks just right. The story wasn't half bad either.

    It is the one sequel that I would love to see but will never get to unfortunately.

  17. #17
    Banned PizzaSHARK's Avatar
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    Got around to beating the game last night. Was Ming-Xiao always such a tedious, boring fight? I eventually just flipped on god mode because I was tired of spending 20 minutes slowly taking tiny slivers of health away only to get stunlocked to death at one point and have to start over. Bloodbuff, maxed Potence, maxed melee, the special aggravated damage sword, and she still takes barely any damage at all from each swipe. Empty both canisters of flamer fuel into her and she barely loses 15% HP.

    Definitely a fight that never got any fine-tuning. The Sheriff, by comparison, was a very fun fight, having the right amount of HP combined with damage (nothing Ming-Xiao does particularly hurts, but nearly everything knocks you around) to result in a boss fight where positioning and timing is important, rather than "hurr I smack u with sord."

  18. #18
    The end of the game gives me an impression that Troika was running out of time. Plots became simple, there's less meaningful dialogue and more fodder-killing action (which isn't the strongest aspect of the game). The fight with Ming Xiao falls into this sadly crumpled part of the game.
    What stands out to me (and other fans I've read) in the game is superb voice acting, and immersion (if you are into vampire genre).
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  19. #19
    Banned PizzaSHARK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mercadi View Post
    The end of the game gives me an impression that Troika was running out of time. Plots became simple, there's less meaningful dialogue and more fodder-killing action (which isn't the strongest aspect of the game). The fight with Ming Xiao falls into this sadly crumpled part of the game.
    What stands out to me (and other fans I've read) in the game is superb voice acting, and immersion (if you are into vampire genre).
    Bugs and the general unrealistic NPC actions on the street break immersion for me. There are no cars anywhere on any of the roads, there's no sense of time passing, the roads themselves are pretty damn small considering this is supposed to be LA, and a whole host of things like that. It's great as a game but there's no sense of real roleplaying or immersion in a realistic, rational world - which, given their tech limitations and Activision forcing them to have their baby three months early, is completely forgivable.

    Some things are clearly shoehorned in for gameplay reasons and don't adhere to anything that makes sense - the various blood dolls at the bars being a good indicator. Even if we assume an entire day passes between each time you enter the bar, there's no way you could suck 75% of someone's blood (which would be fatal, anyway) and they're back to fighting trim in less than 24 hours. Hell, even if we assume the blood gauge represents their blood volume from healthy/normal down to "low enough to cause cardiac arrest," you're still talking about these chicks generating at least a couple pints of blood in a single day.

    The stealth engine - along with the rest of the AI, since Troika was working on a version of Source that didn't have normal AI implemented yet - is just fucking terrible. I've had enemies that were alerted to my presence and looking for me literally touch me while I was crouched and not detect me, and this is without maxed sneaking or obfuscate or anything else. I've also had enemies immediately detect my presence through a fucking wall when I snuck into a room and stood up so I could see the computer I needed to interact with. As gameplay elements, this is fine, but it utterly ruins immersion because it's completely nonsensical.

    I've also heard that the game takes a lot of leeway with rules compared to PnP VtM, though not as much as Redemption did. My understanding is that for anything less than a very special player character, humanity is very hard to raise above 7 - let alone keep it there - and dropping below 4 is considered a death sentence for the character, since they will become so likely to frenzy that they will inevitably continue to commit crimes that lower their humanity further (until it hits 0 and it results in an automatic game over) and/or commit masquerade violations. In Bloodlines... not so much. It's pretty easy to have a humanity of 10 for pretty much the entire game, especially as Toreador; as long as you're nice to people, humanity points all around!

    Then again, considering the stats system looks like a fucking trainwreck (lots of little skills and shit that only serve to add a single point to a single "feat," so why the fuck not just consolidate them all and make the whole fucking thing make more sense?), maybe not being slaved to PnP is a good thing here.

    Oh, by the way, you gotta try out the "money" console command. It's apparently the cvar for boob size for female NPCs and things get downright comical if you set it to 3.00 (the highest setting.) You thought Venus had some giant knockers? Man, wait until you see this...

  20. #20
    So wait Pizza, first you praise one of the best and bugged games of almost 10 years ago, and now you basically bash it?

    I AM CONFUSED INFIDEL!

    Did I mention almost 10 years ago?

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