The Best Video Game Ever: “Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines”

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Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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23 Responses

  1. Avatar James B Franks says:

    I liked Bloodlines a lot, I really wish it had done well enough to get a sequel. One thing to keep in mind is that even after all the patches it’s still a little buggy with regards to graphic glitches.Report

    • Yeah, I suppose I might have gone into “a good video game doesn’t crash and consistently detects when conditions have been met” but, well, you know.

      Version 8.6 is pretty solid by now, for what that’s worth.Report

  2. Avatar Reformed Republican says:

    My friends and I are getting ready to play a VtM one-shot at the end of the month. I am giving serious consideration to revisiting this game to prepare.Report

    • You could do a lot worse than copy/paste the Ventrue Prince into your city. Smiling Jack’s monologues at the beginning of the game are excellent material as well. Plus there’s the Haunted Hotel! And the Tzimisce! The Malkavian Primogen!

      Ah, sigh. What a great game.

      You’ll be the Storyteller, I take it?Report

      • Avatar Reformed Republican in reply to Jaybird says:

        No, I will be a player in this one. I am still trying to figure out my character concept. Torn between Tremere or Malkavian. I like Malkavian, but if I cannot come up with a solid concept, it makes it tough to get into character. If I am going to play a crazy guy, it needs a good foundation so it is not just “guy who says weird nonsense at inappropriate moments.”

        If nothing clicks, then I will go with Tremere. It is easier to play a jerk who thinks he knows everything with little preparation.Report

        • Malkavian Concept: Unintentional Compulsive Spending of Blood Points.

          Whoops! There’s a point into Strength (or whatever… hell, make a random table… and have “player’s choice” and “storyteller’s choice” be some of the options). When the time is right? WHAM. Ugh. I needed that. Now I have to change my plans…Report

  3. Avatar Kimmi says:

    Jay,
    http://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2012/11/29/video-games-14-in-the-collection-for-starters
    Well, it lo0ks like the design/architecture school wants to claim video games as art. (not surprised, actually. At the Carnegie International this year, we’re going to have architects that have been regularly consulted for videogames.)Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

      The whole argument that video games are not art is one of the dumbest arguments I’ve seen. I mean, we sat through “Taylor Mead’s Ass” and had serious discussions about what Andy Warhol might have been trying to say about society and vidya games show up and, suddenly, we say they can’t be art?

      That *ITSELF* was performance art of the highest quality.Report

  4. Avatar Reformed Republican says:

    Thinking back to the game itself, it is pretty solid all around for the first 80% or so. However, it falls apart at the very end, gameplay wise. The last time I played, I stopped before the final assault on the tower. It all gets to be non-stop combat after that. There are some cool story bits, but none I wanted to see badly enough to play through all of that. Then there is the final boss. If you played a character with poor combat skills (which was entirely doable up to that point), you were out of luck.Report

    • The failure there was to not provide an option to talk one’s way past nor to sneak/assassinate one’s way past. They went with the “we need a BIG FINISH!” trope rather than “we need to continue what we had been doing up to this point” trope.

      Which, you’re right, is too dang bad.Report

  5. Avatar dhex says:

    this is a really solid choice despite the general limp-ness of the end.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to dhex says:

      The choices given at the end make for a pretty decent wrapup, I thought… I mean, beyond the boss fight…Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Jaybird says:

        play, mrs. lincoln, etc.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to dhex says:

          Dude, the game inspired a gaming group. This is more of a “other than breaking your leg, how was the play, Mr. Booth?”Report

          • Avatar dhex in reply to Jaybird says:

            what’s “a gaming group”?

            anyway, i don’t disagree about it’s excellence despite the lousy end action sequences. to tie it back into the bastion thing earlier in this series, this is one of the best examplesi think about when i think about choices and consequences as both a mechanic and a theme.

            but that last action boss is terribad.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to dhex says:

              what’s “a gaming group”?

              A group of people who sit around a table and eat, tell “your momma” jokes, and occasionally throw dice.Report

            • Avatar Reformed Republican in reply to dhex says:

              I also agree it a great game. It is the greatness that makes then endgame so frustrating. They took everything that made the game so enjoyable and unique, threw it away, and said “now you get to just shoot at stuff.” That stuff also included endlessly respawning enemies. All through the game, you are given options to avoid violent confrontation. Suddenly, at the end, you have no choice but to fight. Non-stop.Report

              • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Reformed Republican says:

                All through the game, you are given options to avoid violent confrontation. Suddenly, at the end, you have no choice but to fight. Non-stop.

                This. Oh so very much this. My playing style tends towards manipulation, thievery, and deceit (or Auspex, Obfuscation, and Presence if you prefer). I was heartily let down by the final chapters and I kept hoping they’d patch this but it never happened.

                I do still want to replay it, though, so there is that.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to NoPublic says:

                And the thing is, one of the boss fights _isn’t even a boss fight_. It’s fighting the second in command!

                You should have the option of somehow sneaking past that, or convincing him to switch sides, and attacking the real boss (Who is a wimp) or just avoiding him also and doing something with the McGuffin. (Use it, throw it out a window, whatever.)

                Likewise, it would have been really neat if you’d been able to figure out what _actually_ was going on before the end. I’m not saying that it should have been obvious, or something that players would figure out the first time, but it would have been cool to just hand the guy the thing and say ‘I’m out, do whatever you want’, and walk away laughing.

                However, the _other_ boss…the way the game was setup, that fight was fairly unavoidable. You sorta did have to inflict a lot of damage, that was the point. But there could have been other ways to accomplish that goal. (For example, aimed another supernatural creature at them.)

                I hated that boss fight, BTW, because the last time I played, I specialized in _unarmed_ combat. That was how I was playing the entire damn game, punching people in the face, and I wasn’t about to change at that point.

                It took _forever_.

                And earlier I had to use guns with the guys guarding the keys to make that portal thing. It didn’t matter how buffed I was, I wasn’t making it down those corridors without getting shot to death.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NoPublic says:

                Yeah, it would have been nice to set it up so that, say, a random werewolf who may or may not have been part of the earlier game could have been diverted to fight The Sheriff.

                This is the problem they found with the most recent Deus Ex as well… you’ve got this amazing game that can be played a dozen ways… and then the boss fight is only winnable by a guy proficient in machine guns and hand grenades.

                (The other thing I might have written about was Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, and Fallout: New Vegas but that is, like, the Best Series Ever rather than the Best Game… I stand by my choice but that’s, admittedly, because I’m remembering the amazing beginning and middle and only remembered the endings associated with the various factions and forgot the Sheriff.)Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’ve never played Fallout and Fallout 2, but Fallout 3 was an amazing RPG, and Fallout New Vegas took that and actually added three or four legitimate different player paths.

                I think, frankly, if comparing RPGs it’s somewhat wrong-headed to compare a wide-open one and a linear one. There are always going to be advantages and disadvantages of each.

                Of course, this Symposium attempts to compare _all_ video games to each other, which is completely crazy, and completely pointless,, as the best video game of all time is clearly Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

                Fallout was, for its day, *PERFECT*. Fallout 2 was a massive disappointment but, on a purely technical level, they improved damn near everything. They just forgot to write a story worth playing through.

                Fallout 3 was amazing and had me absolutely entranced… until I started playing New Vegas and realized that Fallout 3 was merely a tutorial. (Granted, an 80+ hour tutorial.)Report