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DescriptionOne morning, a seemingly ordinary inhabitant of modern-day Los Angeles wakes up and discovers that he (or she) is dead. Well, not exactly dead, but turned into a vampire - "sired", as the vampires themselves call it. Before the protagonist is able to reflect upon this new and unexpected form of existence, he is taken to a court room, where he gets acquainted with the Camarilla - an organization that preserves order among vampires. Apparently, the protagonist's sire turned him into a vampire without permission, so Prince LaCroix, the head of Los Angeles Camarilla branch, decides to execute both. The hero's short vampire life would have come to an abrupt end, if a mysterious person hadn't stepped in and convinced the Prince to spare it. The Prince takes responsibility for the protagonist from now on, and decides to test his abilities, sending him to Santa Monica. Before long the new vampire becomes involved in a net of intrigues between powerful organizations and vampire clans, and must choose his own place in this terrifying new world.
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines is based on the pen-and-paper RPG Vampire: The Masquerade. In the beginning, the player creates the protagonist, choosing between vampire clans, each with its own unique abilities and disciplines: Brujah vampires are suitable for melee fighting, Tremeres can cast spells, etc. In some cases the choice of a clan greatly changes subsequent gameplay: for example, Malkavians are insane and will therefore have completely different, surreal dialogue choices; Nosferatu are so ugly that they can't pass for humans and will have to travel through underground paths throughout the game, etc.
The main character gains experience points only for completing quests, not for killing enemies. Many side quests are available during the course of the game. Experience points can be manually allocated to raise the protagonist's attributes, as well as improve various vampire feats. The player can make the main character stronger in combat, proficient in computer hacking or stealth, more powerful in vampire disciplines, more attractive, more intimidating, and so on.
Combat in the game is action-based. The protagonist can fight unarmed, use melee weapons and firearms, or employ special vampire abilities. Melee combat is viewed from third-person perspective, but the view switches to first-person if the main character is using a gun. Blood is used to activate the vampire disciplines, working similarly to magic points in other games. It can be replenished by feeding on certain types of enemies.
The protagonist can also feed on innocent humans, though there are repercussions for that. The rules of the Masquerade forbid vampires to reveal their true nature to the humans. Openly feeding on humans violate the Masquerade; five Masquerade violations lead to an instant Game Over. Feeding on humans with no witnesses present does not violate the Masquerade; however, killing an innocent human in process alerts the authorities and causes the player character to lose some of his or her humanity. Losing too much humanity results in the protagonist becoming more and more susceptible to frenzy, eventually turning into an uncontrolled beast.
Many quests can be completed in different ways - brute force, stealth, diplomacy, intimidation, etc., depending on the preferred style of play and the main character's attributes. The player will also have to decide which faction the protagonist should side with throughout the game. Eventually, the player's choices will branch the storyline, leading it to one of the five possible endings.
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Bugs and patchesTroika did not learn its lesson from The Temple of Elemental Evil (see the trivia section). Once again, serious problems and bugs have been left unattended for too long, until a fan, dan_upright, jumped in with his own fixes in an unofficial patch. The releases of unofficial patches were then continued by Werner Spahl until most bugs were fixed. In the final two weeks of Troika's existence, several employees volunteered to help finish with patch 1.2.
Because of the "beta" state this game was left in even after patch 1.2. Several unofficial patches have been released for Bloodlines. There were two lines of fanpatches, the original "unofficial" patch by Wesp which does not only fix bugs, but also adds adds new weapons, disciplines, occult items, quest items, and action sequences, based on content left over from development hidden in the installed game files.
Another fanpatch, the "true patch" was started by Acrimonious and Tessera, previously known for creating nude patches for various games, on the Tessmage.com forums with assistance by several forum members. It is intended to be a true patch to the official 1.2 version, only fixing bugs found in the original game or the official 1.2 patch. There was a huge flamewar between the Tessera and Wesp, eventually leading into Tessera shutting down his website.
Character creationThe game was supposed to have a fourth character creation mode which would enable you to add a history to your character rather than setting the various attributes by hand. It's still in the final version of the game although it's disabled by default. The choice of history has a large impact on the game, as it basically gives players a bonus effect in certain areas and a negative effect in others. Visit the "Tips & Tricks" section where the actual unlocking process is explained.
DevelopmentBloodlines is the second game to use Valve's Source engine, after Half-Life 2. Valve did not want another game to display the new source engine prior to Half-Life 2, so when Bloodlines went gold on October 4, 2004, Troika worked on a patch that was integrated into the duplication master prior to shipping on November 16th. Work on the multiplayer was halted for some time during development, with the intention of picking it up later, which is what happened. However, the multiplayer gameplay never really came together and it was dropped a couple of months before shipping.
German versionIn the German version, the decapitation during the intro was removed.
SoundtrackA release exclusive to Best Buy included the following soundtrack:
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HandofShadow (49) added Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (Windows) on Nov 26, 2004