And that’s a wrap on Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. I give it three out of four fangs. Three fangs! Ah-ah-ah!
I think that “solid RPG” is the best way to describe this one. Because in many ways, Bloodlines doesn’t do anything that other games haven’t done, and I’m sure if we thought we could find many games that are its equal or have surpassed it, but nearly everything it does, it does well. It’s not insignificant that I have a version that’s been patched by both the original developers and a dedicated fan community, and there are a couple of articles around which pay tribute to the people who’ve made it possible. Bloodlines was almost unplayably buggy upon release, they tell me.
There are problems that no amount of patching will fix. Combat feels like a first draft of itself–while it doesn’t ruin the game, I didn’t enjoy any of it. It is, of course, significant that I enjoyed everything else that I was willing to sit through the combat. Many of the areas feel really empty–which isn’t as much anyone’s fault as it is a condition of 2004 and a low budget. But all of the rest of it genuinely was Exactly What An RPG Needs To Be.
You know, I guess I think what what I loved about Bloodlines is that it reminds me of when an actor gets the opportunity to play a monster, or against type, or a superhero, or you know, just to play the kind of broad role that you pretend you are as a little kid, how actors get really excited about. Hell, RPGs, at their core, do have a lot in common with acting and dancing and playing instruments–you’re given the chance to play a character and romp around in a different skin for a while. There is something childlike–if not bordering on childish–in wanting to pretend to be a knight, or a spaceman, or an army man in space for a while, but when a game does that well, it can be wonderful. I said at the beginning I was enjoying stalking around Los Angeles and biting people on the neck, and that still goes. At its core, when it’s working, Bloodlines isn’t so much a game as it is a vampire simulator. It’s the right length–it ended right as I was ready for it to end–and I really liked stalking those streets.
Now thanks to a Steam sale, I am playing Knights of the Old Republic, a game where you pretend to be a Jedi Person. Mine is going to be a lovable rogue who only looks out for himself.