By Mento 1 Comments
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The sun sets on another E3, and where there's a sunset there's a vampire waking up and ready to start a night of frivolity. Hot cup of O rhesus negative ("The best part of waking up, is O Neg in your cup!"), a bit of calisfangics to limber up and then it's off to do whatever it is vampires do. I guess bite people?
So yes, this is the fourth and final part of this Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines half-LP/half-QL feature that... wait, this was totally a Brief Jaunt wasn't it? Goddammit, why didn't I write that down anywhere? Damn you, E3!
As I did with yesterday's chiefly visual episode, I'll present this one a little differently: Since I'm basically doing a bunch of small quests and one big one before I can leave Santa Monica and don't really want to spoil what happens with any of them, I'll present them all individually as synopses I imagine you might find on the back of Young Adult literature about vampires and the other vampires that love them but in a broody kind of way. This ought to be
pretty fucking dumb interesting.
Part 4: Trevor the Vampire
Sibling Rivalry (the Voerman Sisters)
Look around in a crowded club,
You'll see there's a beauty standing,
Is she really everywhere,
Or a reflection?
One's always flirting with you,
The other's shy and quiet,
Could there be two different girls,
Who look the same at
Asylum, Asylum Club?
Quests at Asylum Club.
Odette was an art student in Santa Monica. No-one ever bought her totally rad unicorn drawings; instead, the big bucks went to a totally gnarly [Edit note: Do kids still say that? Is it even a pejorative?] artist who drew nothing but creepy pictures of Caine, the King of Vampires. Odette was going to prove that unicorns trump everything, even if it meant sneaking into an art gallery and fighting a metaphysical blood guardian with a crappy knife. Besides, a cute vampire told her to. (Rated T for Teen.)
Odette is boy crazy, but can she handle four armed gang members at once? Where did her best friend Jeanette run off to? And why is the gun combat so bad in this game? This year Valentine's Day is gonna be bloody.
Sometimes being the new kid is such a drag. She knew that pranks, hazing and name-calling was all part and parcel of joining a new society of demonic bloodsuckers, but the feisty redhead Odette wasn't prepared for THIS.
From the author of "Stop Throwing Shit at Me, Ghost Hotel" and "Why the Fuck Are There Surfer Vampires?" comes "I Guess I'm Blowing Up an Entire Warehouse Filled With Gangbangers". Fitting in has never been so difficult...
What's a girl to do when the dishy head vampire Sebastian LaCroix asks her to retrieve a werewolf blood sample to keep the protective veil between vampires and their oblivious food in check? Maybe it's his eyes, maybe it's his sensual yet commanding voice, or maybe it's that he beheaded her last squeeze, but Odette just can't say "no" to the swarthy Ventrue.
Sneaking around a guarded blood bank for the one you love (to not get executed by) is the ultimate romantic gesture. Inattentive security guards and locked doors aren't going to deter this femme fatale!
...and that's enough of all that.
Part the Final (For Now)
After the last mission, a cab suddenly becomes available to take you to downtown LA where I imagine the game begins proper. There's more sects, more clans and more vamps to interact with and I can't imagine I'll be staying in the good graces of the Camarilla forever. But now E3 has ended and I've already talked extensively about this game for its duration. I think if anyone reading this was curious about the game, they probably know enough to purchase it. (Then again, given that almost every comment I've received was along the lines of "I should play my copy of this again", I've probably done diddly-squat to sell any more copies. Sorry, Troika. Oh wait, you're dead, why do I need to apologize?)
Just in case we still have a few fence sitters (and I wouldn't recommend that, since they're generally pointy and wooden), I'll clarify my stance with the game so far:
The writing is fantastic. I really enjoy the characters and their dialogue, and I say this as someone who avoids vampire fiction like it was laced with garlic and I was some... kind of person who was allergic to garlic. Everyone's either morally gray or morally black, nobody can be trusted and the world has the benefit of a really "lived-in" sense that can only come from a decades old RPG universe that's been expanded and expounded upon by numerous authors, game designers and other creative types in that period.
The combat is less exciting. In fact, though I've never played the game, it's very similar to what I've heard about Alpha Protocol's shortcomings in that regard. Because VtM wasn't necessarily built to be super combat heavy -unlike, say, Dungeons & Dragons or Warhammer - there's clearly been less emphasis on combat design and more on powers, skills and dialogue trees. The very nature of the Masquerade - a conceit that the vampires want to stay incognito and out of the humans' collective radars - suggests that the game engine favors stealthy and deceptive approaches to problems rather than brute force and violence. There's plenty of the latter on offer too, of course, but it's clear Troika wanted to give players something a little different with this game; a little underhanded and devious. It's almost like there's combat only because there needed to be to appeal to a rather large subset of gamer that wouldn't play a RPG unless it was included, which is why it feels awkward and perfunctory. Wemibelec90 mentioned that they like to throw on some cheats to make that part of the game painless and brief and I suspect I might follow that advice.
I can either forgive or half-heartedly endorse everything else. Obviously it's aged a bit graphically (though I still think the NPCs look better than the hideous blob people of Oblivion, which came out two years later and had a ridiculous budget in comparison). The sound design is what it is (I liked the creepy ambiance of the hotel, but there's not a lot of stuff like that elsewhere) and Troika does its best at implementing and explaining the uncommon (in terms of video game adaptations) ruleset of the tabletop game. It figures that they went looking for something else interesting and byzantine to sink their teeth into after their superlative job in implementing a very literal interpretation of the 3.5 Edition D&D rule book for the Temple of Elemental Evil. A shame they went under because their output was seriously incredible if, alas, a tad overambitious.
Anyway, that's Bloodlines. I'll still play it, but there's no reason to subject you all to the misadventures of Odette and the Californian Underworld any more than is needed now that E3 is done. Absolutely try it for yourselves if you haven't - it's a frequent sight in the Steam sales and can be bought for a song. Or a dirge. I'm so glad I can stop doing all these macabre puns; they're just ghastly.
Thanks again for reading and commenting, and don't worry about Odette. She'll be juuust fine.