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Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (Windows)

83
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.2
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Der.Archivar (673)
Written on  :  Jan 07, 2005
Rating  :  4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars

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Summary

A good one from Troika Games, but again with some flaws.

The Good

My review's may be rather short but get's straight to the point without any spoilers:

Plot/Dialog: One of its strength are thankfully the plot and the dialog's with the NPC's you encounter. The main story start's out slow, but it get's more and more interesting also simultaneously more mysterious. The longer you play, the more unsure you are what's really going on. Later on your final point of confusion you had to decide which clan you will follow to continue your last mission.

Graphics: Okay, its the Half-Life 2 engine, but I don't think its on the level of Half Life 2, but it's still rather good. They put the world of bloodlines in a dark, dirty, gothic like atmosphere which fits very well in this game. While some graphics are bit too blurry others are really eye candy. Especially during conversations the facial expression are very well done, you can clearly see if their are pissed off, bored, interested or even naughty.

Music & Sound effects: A real pusher for the atmosphere are the selection of punk/metal music in the clubs or the dark moody ambient music while you wandering through the streets. The sound effects are also quiet good, but sometime you hear more than you actual see (like you hear a car is passing you, but you actually don't see any driving cars in the streets.)

Replay value: Since you can play different types of vampires with also different specialization its makes fun to take play it again and solve the quests in a other way (which gives you additional experience points). It also doesen't matter that you know the main story already, even more interesting is the second view on it.

The Bad

Code flaws/Bugs: Since Ive heard about some bad bugs in the final version, i've waited until a patch was out to play the game. Still there are minor glitches, which didn't make it unplayable but gets angry at times. Sometimes the game/script seems to halt without any reason or buttons suddenly don't work. While you run through small side streets you often cant pass an NPC while two NPC can pass each other without any problems.

Loading times: While in Half Life 2 you followed a one way path, you didn't encounter much loading breaks within 10 minutes. In Bloodlines you can go wherever you want, so every time you leave or enter a building/city its breaks to load for 5-15 seconds. And boy that happens more than often, so thats gets very annoying very soon. Also quick save deserve the name only in its first 15 hours.

Hardware requirement: If you want to get the full experience in 1024x768 and above, you need at least 2,5 Ghz, a good graphic card (especially for the quality shadows), 1 GB memory (to reduce loading times)and a fast hard drive (same as on memory).

Design decisions: For my taste its a bit too action oriented (especially near the end), therefore its a bit sad that there are no other permanent party members which help you out in a battle or on quests. Don't misunderstand me, its not so heavy action oriented like Troikas predecessor Temple of elemental evil but unlike in TOEE the combat system in Bloodlines had its flaws (again sprite collision isn't Bloodlines strength). Also there are few interactions with objects and NPC's. Its minor, but I liked the reactions of NPC's in Half Life 2 when you throw a empty can to them, they start to complain or even hit you. Such small things you will not find in Bloodlines.

The Bottom Line

You like role playing games, but you get sick playing the 287's fantasy version of paladin against trolls and skeletons? Then try Bloodlines, you will like it. I hope this one is the big break for Troika Games, since they produced rather unknown gems like Arcanum or even Temple of Elemental Evil which is good when you take it for what it is.