|| Vampire the Masquerade - Redemption - Review
Filling up on Vitae
| Battle System
| Replay Value
| Time to Complete
The recently released Vampire: The Masquerade RPG has been doing pretty
well, having some of the highest pre-orders ever taken with Electronics
Boutique. Produced by the software group called Nihilistic and released by
Activision, this is one game that certainly brought an interesting (albeit
old) concept to the table; playing as a vampire. I remember viewing it on
my latest trip to E3 and chatting with some of the makers, and they helped
the game give off an even more positive impression then it already had.
(Even snagged me a cool poster of it ;) One thing I would like to notify
everyone of is that I have played and beaten this game WITHOUT the new
patch, which makes a few notable changes to the system. However, the core
of the gameplay (and story) is still the same.
Combat in this game is completely real-time. Something worthy of noting is
that in the aforementioned patch, they added the ability to pause during
combat, which allows a more tactical approach. Yet there are no set turns
or anything along the lines of that. The setup is a point-and-click
interface: left-click to move and attack. You can hold down the left mouse
button on your target to continually attack it, but because the enemy is
constantly moving, it's very ineffective. There are three bars displayed,
those being health, blood and frenzy level, in that order. Your frenzy
increases with the amount of damage you take, or if an enemy vampire
increases it using a discipline, and if it hits max your character goes
psycho (with accompanying facial animation) and attacks/bites/kills anything
near him or her, including allies.
Every character can achieve disciplines, which are different categories each
containing unique abilities. Animalism allows you to change into a wolf,
and protean allows you to change your hands into claws, ripping into your
targets and causing extreme damage. To activate a discipline requires
blood, which plenty of enemies are full of. You can suck someone's blood
until it kills them (with vampires turning into dust, a very cool looking
death), but if you kill an innocent townsperson, you'll take a humanity hit.
If you lose all humanity, you turn into a raging beast and lose the game.
Something that should be mentioned is that in the un-patched version, you
could only save at save points (which you console players are very familiar
with) or when entering a new area. However, it caused a major uproar in the
player base, and so the patch allows you to save anywhere at any time.
|Two out of three agree: This is not the greatest spot to be in.
Navigating among the world is fairly easy, and if your mouse pointer touches
the side of the screen the camera floating above will rotate in that
direction. A few people I know didn't particularly like that and thought it
to be unwieldy, but I believe it helps to immerse the player into the world
by not crowding the screen with interface bars, which could detract from the
experience. I felt that everything was user-friendly and laid out
The music in this game is outstanding, with it being one of the main high
points. Even though I've beaten it, I still pop in the music CD and jam to
some tunes (the collector's edition comes with a soundtrack). The present
day background music is my favorite. Nihilistic even hired a certain band
(whose name eludes me at the moment) to perform a few of their songs. I
felt that the music was fitting, very well done and obviously made by highly
skilled professionals. The sounds are adequate, with everything in that
department being as it should. I would like to point out the voice acting,
because like the music, it was also done by professionals. In fact you
might recognize Christof's voice; it was the same guy who did The Brain in
the cartoon show "Pinky and the Brain". Although he's a famous actor who's
done lots of bits, that actually hurt the game for me, simply because every
time I would hear him I would envision a large mouse walking around. But I
don't want to discredit him or any of the other cast, because the man is
skilled. All of them successfully convey the emotions and personalities of
the characters they represent.
I've tried thinking of any other RPG that focuses on being a vampire as the
main character, but none come to mind. This game was of course inspired by
the live RPG, Vampire: The Masquerade, but that's an evident connection. It
brings a lot of new elements to the table, and you have to start worrying
about getting enough blood and avoiding holy water among other things.
Taking everything into perspective, I would have to give this game a high
originality score, because I've never played anything with the theme and
specific style that is present.
The main character's personality and life are developed nicely, but
sometimes it feels as if the other NPCs are just there to help with combat;
more time should have been spent delving into their characters. Mixed
feelings arise about the plot. On one hand, the story is excellent and
during the whole time I was playing, the main motivation factor to continue
would be to see the progression of things. An extremely cool aspect, as
promoted on the back of the box, is surviving as a vampire across 800 years.
I want to see one other game be able to say that. On the other hand, it
can start to become increasingly tedious because of all the dungeon crawls,
and believe me when I say that there are a LOT of dungeon crawls. The
entire game has a certain pattern it follows, which is storyline plot,
dungeon crawl, storyline plot, dungeon crawl, etc, etc. Don't get me wrong,
fighting as a vampire and using disciplines and such is fun, but there is so
much that it can get overwhelming. Plus, I know there are usually tons of
baddies in the standard RPG, but for some reason when I finished the game I
felt as if I had fought and killed the entire population of a small country.
|Nothing beats a good party...except a better one.
Once you beat V:tM, there's no real reason to replay it. As I've said, the
main motivation for me was furthering the storyline, but as soon as that's
gone, all there is left are those tedious dungeons. There are three
different endings, but you can see all three of them if you do the proper
things five minutes before the end. Although there may be no replay value
for the single player part, there are multiplayer games you can join. You
can even host your own "chronicles" and go to all the locales you've played
in and populate them with whatever you want. You can create your own
multiplayer character, picking your vampire clan and distributing points for
your skills and abilities. Besides standard games being run, there are
social bars where you can go to with your character to do some pure
role-playing. Don't get too excited about online play though, because the
majority of players don't role-play, and some just want to go on to kill
everything they see. However, if you got a proper game set up with proper
players, it could turn out to be very entertaining.
If there's something that no one can disagree about, it's the graphics.
Quite simply, they are astounding. Each city has beautiful backgrounds,
from run-down apartment buildings to huge cathedrals. The FMVs might not be
the most exciting ones ever, but graphically they're up to par. The
monsters look sharp, the characters look detailed, the disciplines look
great and the weapons look nice. Basically, it's all good. ;)
Most of the people I know who played this game became discouraged at some
point because they were killed so easily. I was pretty lucky because I was
well prepared for most of the situations I encountered, but there were a few
enemies who I don't know how I actually defeated. In the patch, they
mentioned making one person easier, because if you didn't stake him right at
the beginning he would eliminate your party with ease. Unfortunately, your
party being eliminated could happen lots in this game. The NPC party AI can
be atrocious, and it got to the point where I would tell the three others to
wait around while I went and cleared out a place by myself. Even the most
common enemy can be extremely powerful given the right circumstances. All
that plus the fact that there is no difficulty setting can make V:tM one of
the hardest games you've ever played. There are things you can do to work
around the difficulty, but most of them are considered bugs.
|You don't look so scary!
I beat this game close to 35 hours, and I knew what I was doing. If it's
your third or fourth time playing (although I don't see why, given the
replay value) then you could probably skim by at 30. If it's your first
time playing and you're not using a strategy guide and trying to do
everything, I'd say it would take about 40 hours. Whether I came off
positive or negative with this review, I am definitely glad I got to play
this game. I might not want to play it over again mind you, but on my first
way through it was fun, exciting and had new ideas and new concepts. One
event that happens in the game is one of the coolest experiences I've had in
an RPG, and I won't be forgetting it any time soon. Overall I would say
that if it sounds interesting, and you plan on checking out the multiplayer
part, it's well worth your money. If you have doubts or you're not
impressed with it, then I would hold off until it went down in price a bit.