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Old 11-01-2003, 02:37 PM   #1
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Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines

Game should be out in the next few months and thought I'd give a yell to those interested or those who dont even know about it.

One of the major differences between Bloodlines and Redemption is that, where Redemption ran as a third-person title on a dated engine, Bloodlines will be playable in first-person and third-person on Valve's brand-new Source engine. Yup, all the cool-ass physics, slick facial animations and gorgeous graphical splendor in Half-Life 2 will find its way into Bloodlines. In fact, I can't help but think that Bloodlines may be even a better illustration of the power of Source, as getting up close and personal is what RPGs are all about.

Even better, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines is well along in its development with the fine folks at Troika Games, the RPG hotbed behind Arcanum and Atari's The Temple of Elemental Evil. Where Redemption was a linear tale that spanned centuries, Bloodlines is set in modern day Los Angeles with a lot more freedom. Starting off as a newly embraced vampire, players can choose from one of the six vampire clans, from the hoity-toity Toreador (think Anne Rice) to the skulking, shadowy Nosferatu (think, err..Nosferatu?). Each clan has its own special abilities, so if you want to be able to reach the highest level of Obfuscate (which allows one to become invisible), you'll need to follow the Nosferatu path. Whichever clan you end up siding with will open or close certain doors, influence alliances, and generally dictate to some degree how you will play the game. Different clans have different options available to them within the dialogue tree and not everybody will respond well to a seduction attempt from some nasty vamp. While you don't pick a sneaky character to go brawling, there's little preventing you from playing the game as you see fit. In a nutshell, you can be the kind of vampire you always wanted to be, but never had the dental plan to back up.

Along the way, the character will gain mission experience, which can be applied to skills and other vampiric powers, called Disciplines in the world of Vampire: The Masquerade. Disciplines are both common and specific to certain clans, so everybody can Feed, but only the Tremere clan can use Disciplines based in the blood magic of Thaumaturgy. Players gain mission experience by accomplishing tasks, not all of which are necessarily tied to combat. So when you need to get inside a house to retrieve a lost artifact and you encounter a guard, you can fight him, sneak past him, wait for him or, if you're one of the lunatic Malkavians, infect his mind with your insanity and see where that takes you.

As mentioned, this all plays out in the Source engine, either in first-person or third-person mode. This is a true RPG, so you can outfit the character as you see fit, tweak his or her stats, and adventure within the game area. Since it has a true physics engine, the player can even use a hand icon to interact with the environment, whether it's stacking boxes or moving them out of the way, or even lifting small cars, if the player has the strength to back it up. This allows anyone to accomplish their current task, or any of the numerous side-quests, as they see fit.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines might just be the best vampire-led game since Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Apart from the stunning visuals, the game seems to feature more RPG elements than you can shake a cross at, so players will surely find their role in the twisted underworld of a vampire-ruled Los Angeles. Unfortunately, gamers will have to wait until 2004 to cut their teeth (sigh...) on the title, but if Troika's history is any indication, Bloodlines will be well worth the wait.

I was a big fan of the first game. And Troika are an awesome company. This second installment is sounding very cool. Keep your eyes open for it! My recomendations are as GOLD!
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