Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

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Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Vampire - The Masquerade – Bloodlines Coverart.png
Developer(s) Troika Games
Publisher(s) Activision
Director(s)
Producer(s)
Designer(s)
Programmer(s)
Composer(s) Rik Schaffer
Engine Source engine
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Action role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution Optical disc, download

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is a 2004 action role-playing game developed by Troika Games and released by Activision for Microsoft Windows. Based on White Wolf, Inc.'s role-playing game, Vampire: The Masquerade, the game follows a newly-created vampire who must seek to uncover the truth behind a recently discovered relic that heralds the end of all vampires. Set in White Wolf's World of Darkness, Bloodlines allows the player to assign their character to one of several different vampire clans, each granting unique powers, and customise their abilities from combat to dialog, allowing them to progress through the game using violent and non-violent methods.

Although Bloodlines divided critics at the time of release, it has gained a popular cult following. It is also notable for being the first third-party game to use Valve's Source engine. The game can be played from either the first-person or third-person perspective. It is also Troika Games' third title and the last to be made before Troika closed down in February 2005.

Gameplay[edit]

Bloodlines is a role-playing game optionally presented from the first person and third-person perspectives.[2] Before the game begins, players create a male or female vampire character; this can be done either by directly selecting a vampire clan and configuring its statistics, skills, and disciplines (or powers), or by answering a series of questions that build a character for the player, based on their responses.[3][2] The player can select one of seven vampire clans: the physically-powerful Brujah, the decadent Toreador, the insane Malkavian,[4] the aristocratic Ventrue,[5] the monstrously-deformed Nosferatu, the blood-magic wielding Tremere,[6] and the animalistic Gangrel.[citation needed]

The player further builds their character by spending acquired points to increase their ratings in areas like strength, intelligence, wits, and appearance, which in turn impact the different skill sets available to the character, such as brawling, firearms, lockpicking, and research.[7] Each ability can be raised from zero to a maximum of five, and it is impossible to accrue enough experience points to complete every skill, allowing the player to specialize in certain abilities or create a more balanced character.[2][7] Experience points are gained through the completion of quests rather than the killing of enemies. These points are used to increase or unlock the character's various statistics and abilities.[8]

The clan to which the player belongs also impacts their available skills and powers: the attractive Toreador's receive bonuses to seduction and persuasion opening new dialog options but are physically weak, while the Nosferatu are a walking masquerade violation that is forced to travel in the shadows or through sewers, but they receive bonuses to intelligence and computer skills that allow access to to more information. Malkavians meanwhile have entirely separate dialog options to reflect their inherent insanity.[7] Other clans can have specific dialog options, with more attractive and charismatic characters using seduction to get their way, with aggressive characters issuing threats.[3]

Firearms combat plays out in first-person perspective, with the character points committed to the firearms skill determining the accuracy of the shot, and how long it takes to target an opponent.[7] Melee combat employs the third-person perspective. The player has access to various weapons such as a katana or sledgehammer. If the player sneaks up behind an enemy unaware of their presence, they can perform a stealth kill, instantly disabling the opponent; weapons provide their own unique stealth kill animations.[8][2] The player can use stealth to approach missions in different ways, by sneaking past guards and security cameras, picking locks and hacking computers to locate alternative routes through levels.[2] Each clan has access to specific vampiric powers which can be used in combat, and to create different approaches to quests: more physical vampires can enhance themselves to become fast and lethal killers or summon spirit allies to attack their foes, others can mentally dominate their targets to force their cooperation or render themselves invisible to hide from detection, and others still can boil their opponent's blood from afar.[6][2]

Players are penalized for using certain vampiric abilities in front of witnesses, or exposing the existence of vampires through the loss of masquerade points. Violating the masquerade five times draws the ire of vampire hunters and ends the game in failure, but additional masquerade points can be earned through the completion of quests and other in-game actions.[8][6] The player additionally possesses humanity points, representing the humanity left within the vampire. Actions such as killing innocents costs humanity. A low humanity score affects gameplay by altering available dialog options to become more bestial, and increasing the chance of entering a frenzy state when the player's blood supply runs low, causing them to go on an uncontrollable killing spree. Like masquerade points, losing all humanity points ends the game, with the player character becoming a mindless beast.[6]

Blood is a primary currency in Bloodlines, used to activate vampiric powers and abilities. Blood is drained with each usage, and can be replenished in various ways, such as drinking that of rats, visiting blood banks, or drinking from humans by attacking or seducing them. Drinking from innocents for too long can result in their death, costing the character humanity points.[6][2]

The player can optionally recruit a female ghoul named Heather who acts as their servant, providing them with blood, gifts, and money, as well as customizing their appearance on their master's whim.[9]

How the player interacts with the game world varies depending upon which clan the player character belongs to. Differences range from different dialogue options becoming available to certain quests becoming available or unavailable. The most notable gameplay differences are experienced by those who play as Malkavian (due to their insanity, dialogue options are often non sequiturs, making it difficult to conduct conversations and negotiations; Malkavians also encounter numerous bizarre moments during gameplay, such as television sets and stop signs speaking to them) and Nosferatu (who, in order to avoid Masquerade violations, are prohibited from speaking to humans and who do not have access to any gameplay options involving seduction).[citation needed]

Synopsis[edit]

Setting[edit]

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines takes place in four hub areas within 21st-century Los Angeles: Santa Monica, Downtown, Hollywood, and Chinatown. Set within the World of Darkness, the game depicts a world where vampires, werewolves, demons, and other creatures are real, and responsible for shaping human history. The vampires are bound to a code to maintain the secrecy of their race, disallowing the use of vampiric abilities in front of humans, as well as discouraging unnecessary killing to preserve the last shreds of humanity in the vampire that prevent them becoming bestial. The vampires are separated into one of seven Camarilla clans with their own respective traits and abilities: the Toreador are the closest to humanity with deep passions for culture; the Ventrue are regarded as nobility and powerful leaders; the Brujah are brutes; the Malkavians suffer from insanity; and the physically-monstrous Nosferatu are condemned to a life in the shadows to avoid all humans.[5][10][11][8][6]

The main character of Bloodlines, whom the player controls, is an unnamed male or female fledgling vampire, transformed at the start of a game and belonging to one of these clans. The fledgling is employed by the Sebastian LaCroix (Andy Milder), the prince of Los Angeles' vampires.[1][12] The fledgling's travels through the vampire political world brings them into contact with other undead creatures, such as the deformed information broker Bertram Tung, the Anarch Smiling Jack, and the mentally unstable Voerman sisters, Jeanette and Therese.[12][7]

Plot[edit]

In Los Angeles, the unnamed protagonist is killed and resurrected as a fledgling vampire. For this unauthorized act, the fledgling and their Sire are brought before the local Camarilla; the Sire is executed on the order of the Prince, Sebastian LaCroix, while the fledgling is spared the same fate by the intervention of Nines Rodriguez, a member of the Anarchs, with the fledgling instead being employed by the Prince.

LaCroix sends the player to Santa Monica to aid his ghoul Mercurio in destroying a warehouse belonging to the Sabbat. Following his success, the player travels to downtown Los Angeles, meeting separately with Nines, LaCroix, and the Anarch vampire Jack. LaCroix tasks the player with investigating the docked ship, the Elizabeth Dane for information about the Ankaran sarcophagus carried aboard; an ancient item rumored to contain the body of an Antediluvian, one of the eldest and most powerful vampires, whose arrival would herald the vampire apocalypse, Gehenna. The fledgling investigates the ship and discovers that the sarcophagus appears to have been opened from within.

The increased Sabbat activity coincides with the disappearance of the Malkavian primogen Alistair Grout. At Grout's mansion, the fledgling sees Nines leaving. The fledgling discovers Grout's remains in the mansion, and vampire hunter Grunfeld Bach who denies involvement in Grout's death. Learning of Nine's presence at the mansion, LaCroix calls on the other primogens to approve Nines' execution. Meanwhile, the fledgling is sent to the Museum of Natural History to recover the sarcophagus, but finds that it has already been stolen. Later, Jack suggests to the fledgling that LaCroix wants the sarcophagus so that he can drink the blood of the ancient within, gaining all of its power.

Believing that Gary, the Nosferatu primogen has stolen the sarcophagus, the fledgling is sent to Hollywood to seek him out; after locating a captured Nosferatu for Gary, he reveals that the sarcophagus was stolen by the Giovanni vampire clan. The fledgling infiltrates the Giovanni mansion, and finds the sarcophagus guarded by the Kuei-Jin, eastern vampires who claim their leader Ming-Xiao has formed an alliance with LaCroix. The sarcophagus is returned to LaCroix's tower, but it is locked. The historian Beckett informs the fledgling that the only person who would know how to open it has been abducted by the Grunfeld to lure out LaCroix. The fledgling kills Grunfeld, and learns that the sarcophagus' key was also stolen.

The fledgling returns to LaCroix, finding that the Sabbat attempted to steal the sarcophagus to destroy it and prevent Gehenna. The fledgling hunts down and kills the Sabbat leader to scatter his followers. Afterwards, the fledgling is met by Ming-Xiao who offers an alliance. Ming-Xiao reveals that she has the key, and that LaCroix killed Grout to prevent his powerful insight from unveiling LaCroix's plans, while Ming-Xiao transformed into Nines at the mansion to frame him. Denying Ming-Xiao's claims, LaCroix rescinds the blood hunt on Nines and entrusts the fledgling with recruiting the Anarchs to help wage war on the Kuei-Jin for murdering Grout. The fledgling finds Nines hiding in the forest, but the pair are attacked by a werewolf, and Nines is left badly injured. The fledgling escapes with Jack; he reveals that LaCroix has placed an execution order on the fledgling, accusing them of framing Nines on the orders of Ming-Xiao.

The ending varies depending on whom, if anyone, the fledgling chooses to ally themselves with. If the fledgling chooses to support either LaCroix or Ming-Xiao, they send the fledgling to kill the other; LaCroix opens the sarcophagus only to be killed alongside the fledgling by explosives hidden within, while Ming-Xiao betrays the fledgling, chaining them to the sarcophagus and sinking it in the ocean. Supporting the Anarchs or themselves results in the fledgling killing Ming-Xiao and maiming LaCroix, who proceeds to open the sarcophagus only to be blown up; the fledgling can additionally choose to open the sarcophagus themselves, and be blown up. If playing as a member of the Tremere clan, the fledgling kills Ming-Xiao and LaCroix is replaced by the Tremere leader Maximillian Strauss with the sarcophagus stored away. Each ending concludes with Jack sat watching from afar, alongside the mummy taken from the coffin, and the enigmatic taxi driver responsible for transporting the fledgling between locations, who states: "the blood of Caine controls our fate... farewell, vampire".

Development[edit]

Bloodlines underwent modifications throughout development contributing to the slow progress made during its 3 years of development. Above, the original character model of Jeanette in a club in Hollywood, while below the final model appearing in a Santa Monica club.[1]

Development on Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines began at Troika Games in November 2001. The team wanted to innovate the role-playing game by putting it in a first-person setting, believing that the genre had become stale.[11] Troika Games was a small studio with only five developers and 32 staff in total, including lead writer Brian Mitsoda who joined the team just under a year after development began.[1][13][14] Some preliminary design and levels had been completed, but much of this work was abandoned or redeveloped, with development effectively starting over again.[13] At this time, the Source game engine on which the game was being built, was itself still concurrently being built by Valve Corporation.[13] Valve themselves approached Troika about using the engine, making Troika the first external team to use it.[11] Troika opted to use Source based on its facial animation and lip-synching system, as they wanted players to speak to each character face to face.[11] The engine was in development in tandem with Bloodlines and Valve's own Half-Life 2, which meant that Troika Games was working with brand new and unfamiliar code and tools, with only a single source that could provide any support to overcome obstacles, forcing Troika to write their own code to compensate for the unfinished engine.[12][1] Then, in October 2003, Valve suffered a security breach in which hackers stole the source code for Half-Life 2. The breach required new security implementations for the engine, delaying both it and Bloodlines while the new featured were added, at the time pushing back Bloodlines release to spring 2005.[15]

Alongside issues with the Source engine, the designers found that the scope of the game was exceeding their resources. Bloodlines offers multiple styles of gameplay, requiring different interfaces, animations, and artificial intelligence designs for both stealth and melee combat, as well as the ability to perform these actions from a third-person or first-person perspective. The designers underestimated the length of time required to both prototype and improve these systems. The scope also suffered from content not being excised from the development process when necessary, while other components were approached with a perfectionist attitude that meant they would be continuously refined instead of finalized to allow the developers to begin focusing on other parts of the game system.[13][1] After three years in development, these issues meant that the game was progressing slowly, and there was seemingly no guarantee of when it would be complete. Publisher Activision stepped in, ordering that the game be ready for release within the next few months, and even advanced more money to Troika so that they could complete their separate work on The Temple of Elemental Evil for Atari, and have the entire Troika team available to work on Bloodlines. Troika continued with development but the game was still unfinished when Activision forced its release.[1][12] Bloodlines' creative director, Jason Anderson, would blame Activision, saying that the publisher took the game from Troika without providing enough time to test and polish it.[12]

The nearly three-year-long production cycle was plagued by many problems.[16] Because Valve's work on opponent AI was not completed in time for Troika to show Bloodlines at a press event, Troika wrote their own AI routines, which never worked as well as the code that Valve eventually developed. Early attempts by Troika to create a multiplayer mode and levels working were unsuccessful and eventually the feature was abandoned. The original writing team was replaced midway through the project, causing most game levels and dialogs to be completely revised.

When Troika had not completed a playable Santa Monica hub with combat and discipline usage that met Activision's satisfaction after more than two years of development time, the publisher took several steps to bring closure to the troubled project. First, Activision increased the budget to add Troika's second development team to the project in March 2004, after they had completed work on The Temple of Elemental Evil. Next, it sent the game's Activision producer and two testers to work on-site at Troika's offices until the game was completed. Finally, it set a deadline of September 15 for Troika to produce a Code Release Candidate.

Troika delivered the Code Release Candidate on the required date, though it left the development team in low morale. Due to the game's size and complexity, the Code Release Candidate took three weeks to test, but on October 4, 2004, Bloodlines went Gold as Version 1.0. Since contractual obligations with Valve would interdict Bloodlines to be released before Valve's debut of the Source engine in Half-Life 2, Activision did not publicly announce that the game had gone Gold and instead gave Troika an additional week to polish the game, after which Bloodlines Version 1.1 underwent another three weeks of testing.[citation needed]

Writing[edit]

Many of the basic plot elements existed before Mitsoda's involvement such as the prince, the anarchs being upset, aspects of the Gehenna storyline, and Jack and the sarcophagus being a major plot point. The designers developed ways in which the overarching story could be tied broadly into each individual hub and level. Each designer retained a great deal of control over their assigned sections in the game, and working with such a small team meant that it did not take long to develop a consensus or keep the plot elements consistent. Mitsoda eventually became the primary writer for many of the characters and their quests, dialog, and side content in the game such as e-mails which further helped to retain a consistent narrative; he was given a lot of freedom in regards to his script without restrictions on the use of language or the content, and was able to even rewrite characters like Damsel after he deemed his initial draft to be weak.[13]

Discussing the process of designing characters, Mitsoda said that he tried to put effort into disguising the necessity of characters that serve simply as a means of pointing the player in the appropriate direction. He said:

"You need a character to pose a problem or give out a quest or be a barrier of some kind. I don’t like to make the [character] outright say 'I need you to do X, then I’ll give you Y' because I see it all the time in games and it shows the writer’s hand – it makes the character into an automated quest kiosk. I like the characters to come off like people actually do – they don’t say 'hi' when strangers come knocking, they say 'who the hell are you?' or they’re expecting you and know more then they let on, or they don’t care. I don’t like my [characters] to be standing around as if their lives begin when the character starts talking to them and end when the player leaves.[13]

Single-use characters that the character may only talk to once needed a unique personality trait to quickly establish them with the player, rather than serving as a disposable item, while major characters that the player speaks to on multiple occasions need to reflect the actions and progression the player as made in the game. Mitsoda wrote the characters by thinking about who each character was, assigning them individual motivations that would determine why they are where they are, what they think of the player, and what they want from them.[13] The Malkavian player character featured a unique dialog script to the other eight playable races, but Mitsoda noted it was one of the less difficult aspects of the development cycle. Mitsoda wrote the Malkavian last, with time running out on development, which saw a lack of sleep and being overworked help contribute to what Mitsoda considered an unhealthy state-of-mind ideal to writing their insane dialog. He wanted to highlight their madness without it becoming comical.[1][13]

Music[edit]

Original instrumental music for the game was written by Rik Schaffer.[citation needed] Troika licensed many songs for the game, and posters for real bands are featured on the walls of the game's clubs.[12] The song "Bloodlines" performed by Ministry had lyrics written specifically for the game, and is a revised version of the song "So What".[citation needed] The soundtrack was released as a limited-edition CD to customers who pre-ordered the game through the Best Buy retail store chain.[17]

Tracks
No. Title Artist(s) Length
1. "Bloodlines"   Ministry[18][19] 7:16
2. "Come Alive"   Daniel Ash 5:55
3. "Cain"   Tiamat 5:27
4. "Swamped"   Lacuna Coil 4:02
5. "Isolated"   Chiasm 5:17
6. "Needle's Eye"   Die My Darling 3:55
7. "Pound"   AERIAL2012 5:32
8. "Lecher Bitch"   Genitorturers 4:15
9. "Smaller God"   Darling Violetta 4:25
Total length:
46:04

Release[edit]

Promotion of Bloodlines at E3 2003

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines was released on November 16, 2004, in direct competition with Half-Life 2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and Halo 2, among several other titles.[13][20] Valve's contract for Troika use of the Source engine guaranteed that Bloodlines could not be released before Half-Life 2.[21] In February 2004, the game had originally been scheduled for release in spring 2005, in part intentionally to avoid competing with Half-Life 2 and the competitive Christmas period.[22]

After Bloodlines was released to the public, Activision compiled a list of problems customers were reporting to its customer service department and on various Vampire websites. It then authorized Troika to spend a week creating a patch to address the most serious issues. However, Troika's inability to find revenue from another project had already forced the developer to lay off all its employees in two waves, except for the three owners: Jason Anderson, Leonard Boyarsky and Tim Cain. Despite this, several employees continued to work without pay on the Version 1.2 patch, which after three weeks was released on December 22, 2004.[citation needed]

In a 2013 interview, Mitsoda remarked that it was released at "the worst possible time - most people didn't even know we were out... fans and the Troika [developers] are always going to wonder what the game could have been like with another six months."[1] Years after Troika's disestablishment, Bloodlines became available again from online distribution systems like Steam, GameTap, and Direct2Drive.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 81%[23]
Metacritic 80/100[24]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 3.5/5 stars[25]
Eurogamer 7/10[6]
GameSpot 7.7/10[2]
GameSpy 4/5 stars[7]
IGN 8.4/10[8]
PC Zone 8.6/10[3]
VideoGamer.com 8/10[26]

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines received generally mixed reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic, respectively, provide a score of 81% based on 68 reviews, and 80 based on 61 reviews.[23][24]

The game was frequently cited as a flawed masterpiece. The scale and variety of choice and effect was highlighted by reviewers as Bloodlines's greatest success, including the variety of clans with specific dialog options, and the specific reactions from other characters each carrying their own clan alignments and prejudice. GameSpy said that taken purely as a role-playing game, it is nearly flawless classic, and the New York Times calling it brilliant but unfinished.[7][27][6] Eurogamer complimented the "effortlessly intelligent" script, claiming that "no other game has come close. Nothing's even tried," and VideoGamer.com said that at its best, Bloodlines stands among the greatest RPGs of the preceding five years, though its technical issues should not be forgiven.[7][6][26] HonestGamers stated that the game "may not be polished and may end with a sigh instead of a shout, but for its ambition alone it deserves stream after stream of compliments."[28] Reviewers compared the game to other successful role-playing games, including the Fallout, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Planescape: Torment, Baldur's Gate II, and Deus Ex, with EuroGamer describing Bloodlines as Deus Ex with vampires.[6][2][8][3][26]

IGN appreciated that Bloodlines rewards exploration outside of the main story, and the New York Times and GameSpy praised the "wonderfully imaginative missions". Reviewers noted however that the later parts of the game were disappointing, delivering repetitive combat-focused missions with respawning enemies, that abandoned the other options such as dialog and stealth, punishing players who build characters with more social skills that combat abilities.[6][8][27][7] GameSpy noted that they had never seen a role-playing game so affected by player actions, with everything from clan choice and character build, to actions in missions influencing future options and dialog.[7]

The writing received consistent praise from reviewers. The narrative was considered to be deep, offering a successful use of White Wolf's Vampire: The Masquerade content. EuroGamer said it featured the best script they had ever seen in a video game, while others considered it to be a superbly crafted tale of conspiracies, underworld subterfuge, fun, and intrigue.[7][6][2] Reviewers appreciated the use of adult themes like sex and death in the story in a contemporary video game, that no other games had tackled with similar effectiveness. The mature themes succeeded while never being gratuitous or exploitative, or existing purely to shock, and instead being dealt with in honest and truthful ways by a writer who is knowledgable about the topics.[6][2][26] The characters were well received for their memorable, well-developed personalities, with most major characters featuring their own intriguing backstory, that are presented as living people instead of ciphers delivering the next mission.[26][3][7] The ending received a mixed response, with reviewers appreciating the ability to influence which of the game's four endings were received which added incentive to replay the game, and others considering the ending anti-climatic.[2][27]

GameSpot and GameSpy said the dialog was sharply written, featuring many memorable lines and phrases.[7][2] Eurogamer noted that the characters frequent use of vulgar language made sense because they are written like real people and such language fit their character, rather than simply having them swear to make the game seem more adult.[6] They also appreciated that the breadth of dialog options was immensely rewarding in allowing the player greater control over personalizing how they play their character. Conversely, PC Zone said that the quantity of well-written dialog did not necessitate quality, considering that too many player choices appeared to have little effect on the outcome of a conversation, and the best response often being the most obvious.[3] The voice acting was repeatedly singled out for praise, both for the quality of the actors, and the amount of voice work present due to the amount of available dialog options.[2][8]

Much of Bloodlines' criticism focused on the it's technical failings upon release that undermined the experience or made the game unplayable. Reviewers noted as well as errors that closed the game, Bloodlines featured several typographical errors in on-screen text. Others highlighted frequent and sometimes lengthy loading times encounted while moving between hubs and entering or exiting buildings and separate areas.[6][3][2] GameSpot said that the game's Artificial Intelligence (AI) was poor, causing enemies to often rush at an armed player, fire at them from too great a distance to be effective, or become immobilized while waiting for the player's next attack. IGN noted that stealth also broke the AI, allowing traps to be triggered, but leaving the assailants standing still, unable to locate a hidden player.[2][8] GameSpy said that the Source engine was Bloodlines greatest weakness, reasoning that the RPG aspects are the game's strongest aspects, while the features of the Source engine such as first-person shooting, are where the game stumbled.[7]

Combat also received criticism, with reviewers labeling it poor, clumsy, and unsatisfactory.[2][6] Reviewers complained that Bloodlines favors melee combat, with firearms being weak, unwieldy, and slow, even for characters that specialized in guns.[2][6][8] However, PC Zone said that the first-person shooting was entertaining and challenging.[3] While melee combat was criticized as sluggish and difficult due to enemy attacks interrupting the player's, reviewers still considered that melee combat was overpowered, with GameSpot stating that a boss character was killed with melee weapons the first time after repeated failures attempting to accomplish the same with a gun.[7][2] The New York Times said that the final part of the game featured unavoidable combat so difficult that they had to cheat to succeed.[27][26] Stealth was also criticized with IGN noting that even with low stealth skill, it was possible to sneak around many enemies, and even feed from a guard without altering another guard stood immediately next to them.[8] However, GameSpot said that some of the best missions were stealth-based, with combat being more straight forward.[2][7]

In 2006, PC Zone listed Bloodlines as the seventh-best PC game that people were unlikely to have played, saying it was the "best buggy game ever released".[29] In 2007, the game appeared at number 80, on PC Gamer's list of its top 100 games, and in 2013, PCGamesN listed as the seventh best PC role-playing game.[30][31] Retrospective articles by Rock Paper Shotgun and Eurogamer praised the title as "a clever, multi-faceted RPG,"[32] and declaring that "it bristles with life and character."[33] The game is considered a cult classic.[12]

Sales[edit]

Despite the generally favorable reviews,[24][23] Bloodlines's initial release sold only 72,000 copies (earning approximately $3.4 million)[citation needed] which was considered a poor response and helped contribute to Troika's shutdown shortly after the game's release.[21] In comparison, its release competitor Half-Life 2 had sold 6.5 million units by 2008.[34]

In early 2009, the game experienced a significant revitalization, thanks in particular to its re-release on the Steam development service.[35][not in citation given]

Legacy[edit]

The relative failure of Bloodlines' release contributed to the eventual demise of Troika Games. Shortly after the game's release, most of the development staff were made redundant, while the remaining staff alternated between attempting to patch the released version of Bloodlines and developing new game concepts to help secure funding to keep Troika in business. Troika was unable to obtain further funding, and gradually released its employees in two waves, the first in November 2004, followed by the remaining staff in December.[14] By the time the company finally closed in February 2005, it had secured no other game development deals.[1][36] In the same month, Troika's former joint Chief Executive Officer Leonard Boyarsky confirmed that Troika had not been working on a patch for the game, having been without most of its staff since December 2004.[14] Many community patches have since been released, in order to fix errors and bugs that were not corrected by Troika due to the scope of the game and the subsequent closing of the developer, as well as to restore unreleased additional content found in the game files.[37][38][39][1]

Following its release, analytical chemist Werner Spahl began further development on the game, after installing a fan-created patch which rendered the game inoperable for him. Spahl contacted the creator who informed him that they were no longer working on the patch but provided information on how to fix its issues. Spahl then gained permission to continue developing the patch, taking over from version 1.2 onwards. The community around the game served as testers for Spahl's patches, providing information on spelling errors, altering character models, and even creating entirely new maps for the game. The complexity of the game system often meant that repairing one aspect broke another, but as work on the patches progressed, Spahl moved beyond simply fixing issues with the base game and began restoring removed and incomplete content which still remained within the game's code, adding new characters and using fans to provide voice acting, to reinstating entire levels.[1] The changes altered the original game so much that Spahl was criticized by some of the game's community, resulting in the release of separate patches: one that fixes the technical issues in the game, while the other installs the additional content. As of April 2014, the game has received 10 years of post-release support with the release of version 9 of the patch.[1][40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Lane, Rick (April 27, 2014). "Reanimated: The story of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on July 19, 2014. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Ocampo, Jason (November 17, 2004). "Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on July 27, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Pradhan, Ravi (August 23, 2013). "Homage To A Forgotten Video Game – Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines". What Culture. Archived from the original on August 27, 2013. Retrieved July 20, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Gillen, Kieron (November 24, 2004). "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k
  9. ^ Gillen, Kieron (April 9, 2008). "Vampire: Bloodlines – Heather and Me". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on July 21, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 
  10. ^ Cavalli, Earnest (July 9, 2014). "10 Years, 10 Great Games: Earnest's picks". Joystiq. Archived from the original on July 20, 2014. Retrieved July 20, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c d Reed, Kristan (August 13, 2003). "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved July 20, 2014. 
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