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Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
Platform: Windows
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Troika Games
Genre: RPG
Format: CD-ROM
Release: US 11/15/04
Japan N/A



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"Don't worry, I minored in medicine...oh crap."
 
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Tesla would be jealous.
 
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Something is seriously wrong with the Cat in the Hat.
 
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"Those damn kids aren't running on my lawn anymore!"
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James Kelly
Preview First Look
10/07/04
James Kelly

If you are anything like me, Troika Games' upcoming title Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines has filled you with excitement and dread at what is to come to our PCs next month. Back in 1999, Nihilistic Software created the first Vampire: The Masquerade game. It was a promising, yet overall disappointing game. Now, in 2004, we return to the World of Darkness, and from the creators of such games as Fallout 1 and 2, as well as Arcanum: Of Steamwork and Magick Obscura, we should expect little less then greatness from their newest game surrounding the dark world of vampires.

First off, much of the game is spent in first-person mode, something quite common among PC RPGs, but something which many gamers still aren't too comfortable with, especially those not accustomed to first-person shooters. For those gamers, they have some serious boning up to do as all gunplay found throughout Bloodlines is done from a first-person perspective. Exploration, as well, is done from first-person view, although that can be switched on the fly with a third-person view, also used for all melee combat should that be the route you choose for you character.

A familiar sight to those of us that have played the pen and paper World of Darkness games, of which Vampire: The Masquerade is a part, is the character creation screen, which is basically a streamlined version of the Vampire: The Masquerade character sheet. Gone are all the skills that do not lend themselves well to a PC environment; things such as Performance, Medicine and Expression have all been axed in the name of playability. The creation of your character starts with choosing your vampiric clan, one of the seven clans that belong to a faction known as "The Camarilla." These vampires believe hiding amongst their human prey gives a greater chance of survival over enslaving them, especially in an age where they control so much of the world from behind the scenes.

Your choice of clan will affect everything else in the game, so choose wisely. Each clan has a different point spread for choosing stats, some have easier access to physical stats over social, for instance. As well, each vampire clan has access to three disciplines - supernatural powers that give them dominance over mortals and make each a danger to each other; the Ventrue clan can control the minds of those they meet (the discipline of Dominate), sway the emotions of those close by (the discipline of Presence) and are supernaturally resistant to damage (the discipline of Fortitude), while the Brujah, who share the discipline of Presence with the Ventrue have access to supernaturally enhanced speed and strength (the disciplines of Celerity and Potence). As you can tell, choosing a clan will have a distinct effect on how you play the game.

When starting a game of Bloodlines one of the first things you will probably notice is the graphics. Bloodlines is the first game to license out Half-Life 2's Source game engine, and it makes good use of the technology to enhance both the mood of the game as well as the gameplay. Objects are knocked astray dynamically, lightning courses over the arms and fists of those that invoke the discipline of Potence, and materials are all suitably realistic to immerse you into the world of vampires.

Barring any further delays in development or the current goings-on with the various companies associated with the game and the Source engine, look for Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines in stores this November.



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