Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines Review | Final Nights Edition™

Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines Review | Final Nights Edition™

November 14, 2019 100 By William Hollis


Hey, hey people! SSeth here. Tonight, I’ll be covering one of my favorite RPGs. A cult classic that brings you back no matter how many times you finished it. Do you love shopping at Hot Topic? Do you hate natural sunlight? Have you ever wanted to suck off the homeless? If you answered yes to any of those, then I know exactly the game for you. Vampire: the Masquerade Bloodlines released in 2004, by Troika Games, Bloodlines takes place in modern-day LA. But our story begins in the Old Testament. So, to understand the lore, I’ll need you all to whip out your Bibles and flip to Genesis 4. Remember Cain and Abel? In the Bible the two brothers made offerings to God. Abel offered the Lord some lamb chops. Cain gave him some Weetabix or some shit. Naturally, God liked Abel’s offer a lot more. So Cain dis-Abel’d his brother by murdering him with a fuckin rock. God was very unhappy with Cain. For killing his brother? Nah. God doesn’t give a shit. Cain’s crime was murdering his brother and then having the audacity to lie to God. In the Bible, God punishes Cain to wander the earth. In Vampire: the Masquerade, God punishes Cain by giving him superpowers. [GOD]: “Cain, for crimes against your creator and your fellow man, I sentence you to immortality. I’m also giving you superspeed and superstrength. You can also turn invisible. Uhhh…Would you like to polymorph as well? Sometimes I like to turn into a burning bush and scare the shit out of Moses.” Anyway, God turns Cain into the first vampire. The only downside? He can’t walk in the light and he has to drink the blood of others to survive. God’s true punishment is giving Cain the ability to sire children. But with immortality, the only thing left to fear is death itself. That fear becomes paranoia, jealousy, hatred; not for humans, but for your own kind and that fear ends up consuming you. Just as Cain murdered his brother, he is now forced to watch for all eternity as generations of his own children murder each other. Where do you come into all of this? You’re a random schmuck who gets embraced against your will in a seedy LA Hotel. When you wake up, you’re a vampire. but before you get comfortable, the Camarilla boys break in, stake the both of you and ship you off to Vampire Court. Turns out siring vampires without permission is a big no-no and a violation of the Masquerade which is basically a loose set of rules to keep mortals from finding out about the supernatural and from realizing that Vladimir Tepes was in fact a high level Tzimisce who turned Romanians into dining chairs. Because if humans ever found out, that’s a guaranteed death sentence for every vampire on earth. The judges make their verdict, your sire gets decapitated by Magilla Gorilla, the African muscleman behind Sebastian Lacroix, Camarilla Prince of LA, and you’re next on the chopping block. Oh, well at least you got laid. However, Nines Rodriguez, leader of the LA Anarchs, protests against your immediate execution. Suddenly struck with a flood of emotion and newfound empathy, Lacroix decides to spare you your life. Instead, he sends you off on a suicide mission to get killed somewhere else. Clueless and alone, you’re thrown into this game as an unwilling pawn in a world of darkness. [vampire guy] “What? Oh, man. And you’re a goddamn Malkavian, too, wow. You really are fucked.” But as with any chess game, if you underestimate the pawn, you’ve already lost. Survive, understand, and identify the other pieces on your board. Once you do, you’ll have to make a choice between being a player and being a pawn, and I should warn you a pawn is always sacrificed to protect the king. Before you start, you have to pick your clan. There’re seven to choose from. They’re generally very interesting and offer unique approaches to the game. Brujah and Gangrels are hobos and furries, respectively. They’re very hot-tempered and have poor impulse control. Tremere can do this. They’re basically undead blood mages. Toreador are the very definition of vampire sluts. Being a room-temperature piece of ass does have its advantages, though, and lets you get what you want without conflict. Ventrue are like vampire aristocracy. Basically, they’re assholes who think they’re too good for sucking off the homeless. Don’t say that to their face, though, or you might find your neck snapped. Nosferatu are hideously deformed. Women ignore you or call the police when they see your face. So, really, no different from being alive. Malkavians are batshit insane. Their curse makes them unhinged, unstable, and even worse, completely lucid and prophetic. They can also spread this insanity to others. As a result, they’ve got some of the best interactions and dialogue options in the entire game. Which may or may not include: talking to stop signs and being interrogated by your own television. It’s no small secret that Clan Malkavian is my favorite. If it’s your first time playing Bloodlines, I recommend playing any Clan which isn’t Malkavian or Nosferatu. Why? Because the madness network isn’t random. It’s foreshadowing. It’s knowledge you know, but shouldn’t and all these revelations will go over your head when you can’t make sense of it. Also getting spotted out in the open is an instant Masquerade violation for Nosferatus which could result in your immediate death. It’s better for seasoned players who already know who and where everyone and everything is. Also I hope you like sewers, because you’re gonna be seeing a lot of sewers as a Nosferatu. Hope you packed snacks. “But why would I play this old ass game a second time SSeth? I got a lot of stuff to do. I got…uh…”reading” to catch up on.” Because, you goddamn zoomer, the game isn’t very long. Length isn’t the point of it. It’s the choices you make and there’s a lot of different choices you can take, depending on your character, which come back to help or haunt you in the future. It’s a very well-contained and believable world that never breaks your suspension of disbelief. You might be turned off by the vampires and to tell the truth, I was too. So was my mom and now she’s probably finished the game more times than me. Because this game isn’t about vampires, the undead, or the supernatural. It’s about humans and regardless of whether they’re mortal or damned flesh, they all act, think and feel human. They’ve got real fears, hopes, and motivations which drive their character. Every single character, no matter how central or insignificant they are to the plot, are written fantastically well. And that’s the main praise you hear for this game: the story and the dialogue, which has some goddamn amazing voice acting. [spooky dude] “I see your face is not so lifeless. Your nerves not so deadened that you cannot express shock. Tell me, child, is my appearance that frightening? Or is it my knowledge of you that is so unnerving?” Through most of the game you’re given tasks to complete by Lacroix. These serve as the main questline and you’ll need to finish them to progress the story and unlock new locations. You’ll get to meet the other major powers in LA as well. There’s the Camarilla, which uphold the status quo and enforce the Masquerade religiously; Anarchs who respect the Masquerade but hate the politics and hierarchy of the Camarilla; the Sabbat, who don’t give a shit about the Masquerade and seek dominion over mankind; and finally, there’s the Kuei-jin, Asian vampires that have recently moved into Chinatown and filled it with Gacha machines. They use the negative Chi formed by gambling, organized crime, and Gacha balls to fuel their aggressive business practices. Besides the main story, there’s dozens of side missions to complete. None of these are your standard fetch quests, either. They force you to think and decide for yourself how to best approach them. Completing missions is important since that’s your only way of getting the experience points necessary for upgrading your character. Most of them can be resolved peacefully by talking or stalking. Some of them, however, cannot. And whether it’s from other vampires or the same dude in a wife-beater, copy-pasted 200 times, violence is inevitable. So building your character to be a smooth-talking anemic slug might not be the best idea. There’s a lot of nightclubs in this game by the way, very good place to feed. They’ve also got some pretty good music. You can also dance. Even outside, there are some very nice ambiance to fit the mood. It makes you feel like you’re actually there. This game taught me that Santa Monica is a shithole. So don’t feel bad about the people you kill there. In a way, you’re saving them from the pain of living in Santa Monica. Bloodlines controls quite simply. You play it in first person while interacting with objects and NPCs, and you pan out to third person whenever you’re in combat. Combat can be enjoyable. But mostly, it is not enjoyable. Combat boils down to mashing left-click while desperately scrolling with your mouse wheel and smashing right-click to reactivate Blood Buff. Oh, yeah. Every Clan’s got vampire superpowers or Disciplines unique to their bloodline. Many of these cost a lot of blood to use but they’re visually impressive, they can end fights instantly, and they break the monotony of endless button-mashing while hoping and praying that your enemy’s life bar is smaller than your own. You could use guns instead, but unless you’ve invested skill points into firearms, you might be dead by the time you take a shot. Outside of combat you’ll be doing everything from investigating serial murders to evicting unfriendly spirits out of hotels. The Ocean House Hotel is there to remind you that just because you’re a spooky bloodsucker doesn’t mean you’re not capable of terror. The Ocean House is so infamous that it’s got its own console command to skip the entire sequence. It’s probably one of the best horror segments I’ve ever seen in a game, and they managed to do it without a single jumpscare. Just a feeling of pure condensed dread. Your inventory is conveniently infinite so you never have to worry about space. You’ll pick up useful items like blood bags and firepower and less useful items like birth control and estrogen pills. This game’s difficult and there’s a few frustrating points in the story that might make you quit. Point number one: Hollywood Sewers. At some point in the story you have to find the Nosferatu – as they’ve gone into hiding for reasons unknown. This has nothing to do with the 3 billion Tzimisce flesh puppets clogging up every sewer drain and you’re gonna have to fight them all. Including this big bitch who throws spareribs at you. Also. There’s no blood down in the sewers. So now I hope you brought an entire fridge supply of blood with you. Good luck. Luckily, the unofficial patch fixes this completely. The Good Old Games copy comes with the patch preinstalled, so you can take a convenient shortcut and save yourself the pain of going through this programmed hell. Point number 2: Werewolf Park. In this universe, werewolves are incredibly rare, but they’re also invincible killing machines. In fact, you can’t fight this puppy at all. It’s immune to damage and can stun lock you to death in several swipes. This all happens in a span of 5 seconds, so most players never even get the chance to understand what the fuck is going on before they meet their final death. Again, again, and again. Even though it kills you in five seconds, you’re expected to survive for about five minutes. Oh, and forget about regenerating your health. Werewolf claws burn through your flesh. So it can’t be healed back. However, after years of dying to that same werewolf, I found out you can actually kill it. What the hell? How was I supposed to know that you’re actually meant to run into the Observatory, flick the circuit breaker outside, run back in, open the dome, lure it into the dome, and crush it to death? How the hell was I supposed to know that? The answer is: I didn’t. I had to look it up on the wiki. After years of suffering through the same mission each playthrough, this is oddly satisfying. However, if you can endure past those rough patches in the story, you’ll start piecing together what’s going on. The concern and focus of every major faction in LA is in one way or another centered on the arrival of a certain archaeological treasure: the Ankaran Sarcophagus, which, throughout the game, has a bad habit of getting stolen. What’s inside? Who knows? An old Assyrian king or a slumbering antediluvian, one of the oldest granddaddy vampires out there who, if you traced your blood far back enough, might be one of your original fathers. Half the city believes the latter. They also believe that the moment father dearest wakes up from his slumber, he’s going to be hungry. Real hungry. And he’ll sate that hunger by feasting on his children. Wherever we go, it is the blood of Cain which makes our fate. Your fate and the fate of the Ankaran Sarcophagus are inescapably intertwined. Will you open up the sarcophagus or seal it away for all eternity? That choice is up to you. Vampire: the Masquerade Bloodlines. A very unique, flawed, and fantastic diamond of a game. Terrible combat, zero out of 10. As always, more content to come, so stay tuned. Nah, I’m just fuckin with you. Ten out of ten. One of my favorite and one of the most replayable RPGs of all time. There’s very few games out there that keep pulling you back, over and over again, and still manage to make each playthrough different, and this is one of them. Go buy it. Go play it. You won’t regret it. Get sucked into the atmosphere. Get a craving addiction for it and replay it every few years for the rest of your natural life, because there’s nothing quite like it. A warm thanks to the many members of The Merchants Guild, generously funding and bankrolling these videos. You’re all truly “wonderful”. [Chinese Stereotype NPC] “You going to get a visitor at your door next week. Don’t open door! It Jehovah Witness. They so annoying.” [Fat Larry, overweight drug-dealing ladies man] “Hey, I could use a Halloween looking S&M gremlin like yourself to help haunt some people out of some loot for me.” [The Only Security Guard You Shouldn’t Kill] “Let’s see what we got on good ol’ camera three. Oh ho, well, hello there. I’ve been thinking about you, ohhh yeah. I wanna lick you all over. Then make my way down to your creamy center, and… what the?” *angry fat noises* “Get your hands off my Bavarian Cream!” [More Chinese Stereotype NPC] “You going to go to fancy restaurant. You going to order snails. Don’t eat them! That disgusting! Snail very dirty.” [Loving Husband] “Phil’s here! Gotta run! Great breakfast, honey.” [Evil Wife] “Have a good day, dear. I’m glad you liked the muffins!” [Loving Husband] “Hey, what’s that on the counter? That’s not my margarine. That’s butter.” [Evil Wife] “It’s-” *righteous slap* [Loving Husband] “BITCH! You know I’m supposed to watch my LDL levels!” [Evil Wife] *crocodile tears* “I thought it would be a nice change! You couldn’t even tell!” [Loving Husband] “You don’t want a divorce! You’re trying to kill me! I’m glad I slept with your sister!” [Product Spokesman] “I Thought It Was Margarine grade B butter. All the rancid taste of margarine with all the saturated fat of butter.” [Chinese Stereotype NPC] “Ahhh, love will find you next week. Don’t stay in love too long, husband find you too!” [Upbeat Product Spokesman] “Does your penis always seem to be getting in the way?” [Well-endowed Gentleman] “I got the last of the groceries, honey! I just need to close the trunk! *SLAM* AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” [Biggus Dickus] “One more nail and this birdhouse will be as good as new! *hammer hit* “OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH!” [Hot Topic worker] “I’m sorry, sir. This dressing room is for women only.” [“Doctor” Fred Tuck] “You don’t have to let this happen to you. Hi, I’m Doctor Fred Tuck. Don’t let your penis interfere with the quality of your life anymore. I have performed over 300 sex changes in my career and not one of my patients has ever asked for their tacklebox back. Come to Tuck’s Sex Exchange in the next month and I’ll give you a free estimate. Don’t let your piece interfere with your peace of mind.” [V.O. Guy] “Tuck’s Sex Exchange, located off Beverly Drive.” [Chinese Stereotype NPC] “Next time you get on train, change seat to exit row. This make sure you not sit next to big fat ass.” [The Only Security Guard You Shouldn’t Kill] “Camera 79, nothing. Camera 80, nothing. Camera 81… hey, heyyy, hey! It’s me! Hey there, Chunk! Doing a fine job! Keep up the good work, me!” [Attack Ad V.O.] “Last year, Democratic candidate, Michael Redmonds, bought a sports utility vehicle. Three months later, there were two separate incidences of hit and runs by an unidentified SUV in his area. Is Democratic candidate Michael Redmonds to blame? Can you afford to take that chance? Can your children? Vote Republican Senator Robert Thorn, a candidate that has never committed vehicular homicide!” [Attack Ad V.O. 2] “Democratic candidate Michael Redmonds has never publicly stated his opinion on child pornography. Is it because he’s hiding something? Would you want a child pornographer voting on this nation’s laws? Would do you trust your children’s future to someone like that? Vote Republican Senator Robert Thorn: the candidate that is committed to locking up child pornographers!” [Attack Ad V.O. 3] “Democratic candidate Michael Redmonds recently sued Senator Robert Thorn for accusing Redmonds of being a murderous child pornographer, but Redmonds had previously said he was against clogging up courts with frivolous lawsuits. Wouldn’t this make him a hypocrite? Would you want a hypocrite as your next congressman? Would you want your children to become hypocrites? Vote Republican Senator Robert Thorn, a candidate not accused of being a murderous child pornographer.”