This is a game I have waited a long time to come out and I'm pleased to say I was disappointed with the end product. After the travesty that was the first game based on White Wolf's Vampire RPG it's great to see a game that truly respects the source material.
Bloodlines is a first-person RPG game set in the L.A. area, you play a newly created Vampire caught in the political intrigues of the Vampire elders and Anarchs.
Creating your character is simple enough, you can either answer some pyschological type questions to create one or build one up from scratch. The seven vampire clans (or races) of the Camarilla are all represented so you can build yourself a mean ass-kicking Brujah fighter or a super stealthy Nosferatu or whatever you want.
There are a lot of skills to sink your points into, from computer hacking to firearms. Throughout the game you will be rewarded experience points which can be used to build up your ultimate character.
The major Disciplines (vampire powers) are all here as well, celerity for lightning speed, potence for enhanced strength, obfuscate for stealth. Each clan has three Disciplines to spend points on, giving each a distinct difference from the others. Gangrel for instance have the unique power of Protean which allows them to take on animal form, very handy for dealing out death in combat situations.
Then it's onto the game, after a cut-scene you'll be led through a simple tutorial which should more than help you get to grips with using your new vampire powers and introduce you to the political climate of the Vampire setting (players of the RPG game will be more than familiar with this setting).
The game itself is of standard fare when it comes to missions, you want something from vampire A but first he wants you to do something for him/her. Depending on what type of charcter you are playing will dictate how you complete a mission. If you're a crazed Brujah anarch you'll be going in guns blazing and laying waste to anyone in your way, if you're playing the stealthy Nosferatu then you'll be sneaking your way through with some sneak kills along the way.
However, you will be needing some basic combat skills no matter what character you play as most missions will involve some combat with some missions featuring "bosses" of some sort. Unless you are playing a stealthy character then some missions will turn into the more traditional "dungeon crawls".
The storyline itself is very engaging, as you would expect from any game now all the NPC interaction is done with voice-actors and it is very well done. There are enough side-quests to keep the replay value up as well.
In fact the way you play the game has a significant effect on what happens. You can play an Angel-esque vampire protecting the good and trying to retain your humanity or you can play as a bloodthirsty monster doing nothing but for yourself. For instance a group of vampires you meet early on all have sidequest missions but if you approach them in a hostile manner you can just kill them all and not bother with their missions.
Being too inhumane comes with its price though, the Masquerade (how the vampires conceal themselves from humans) must be maintained at all times. If you are spotted feeding on a human or using your powers in public then you'll lose a Masquerade point. Lose five and it's game over.
Feeding is very important in the game, you pay for using your powers from your "blood-pool" which must be filled up. There are various ways to achieve this from feeding on rats in the sewers, chatting up the ladies in clubs or just popping into the local blood bank and buying some.
The game uses Half-Life 2's game engine, none of the physics of HL2 but the beautiful facial animations of HL2 are pretty evident. The in game graphics are very good coupled with the sound and the atmosphere is spot on. Each place has it's own distinct feel, to the creepy haunted mansion to the rock-club of the anarchs.
The most telling bad point of this game is the bugs. There are a lot of bugs in this game and it just screams out for a patch. NPC's will seem to float instead of walk, the frame-rate can be atrocious even on the best of graphics cards, you'll sometimes find yourself stuck in objects or looped conversations. But such is the quality of the story and game presentation that these become mild annoyances, it's just a shame I'll have completed this game many times before a patch does become available.
All in all it's a great game, one to sink your teeth into.