Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines was the first game ever to be created on the Source engine outside Valve. In fact, the game was "completed" (more on that later) far ahead of its original schedule and Troika Games found themselves to be contractually forbidden to even release the game until Valve would push Half-Life 2 out the door. This would delay the release of the game until November 2004.
Troika Games was founded by Leonard Boyarsky, Tim Cain and Jason Anderson - all former employees of Black Isle Studios, the company known for, among other well-known products, the original Fallouts and Planescape: Torment.
As far as the game itself is considered, Bloodlines' primary strength lies in how it manages to offer the player a diverse array of different gameplay choices: Where Redemption follows the same path no matter what choices you make, Bloodlines' vampire clans are all nigh-carbon-copied from White Wolf's material and are thus moderately, no, principally different. Especially playing with the Nosferatu, Tremere and Malkavian clans results in a substantially different gaming experience. Sadly, most players - including myself - would find it easier to stick to a more basic clan like the Brujah.
For actual Vampire fans, the undoubted strength of the game lies in the writing of the game - in fact, Bloodlines is considered canonical (unlike Redemption, which paid little heed to discipline restrictions and clan balance) and it shows. Characters such as Beckett, for instance, are actually well-established in previous WW vampire lore and the game does extremely well in terms of maintaining a "correct", if you will, atmosphere.
The Troika triplets' (Boyarsky, Cain and Anderson) offerings to the CRPG are undisputed (have a look at Boyarsky's website) and can be considered, without any doubt, some of the driving forces responsible for the renascence of the CRPG genre at the turn of the 1990s.
Ultimately, the Troika trio was betrayed by the very genre they helped create: As CRPGs are usually slow burners in game shops and don't exactly set the marketplace on fire, they nevertheless keep on moving considerable units years after their launch date. Sadly, Activision effectively forced Troika out of business - firstly by forcing them to release a gravely unfinished product and subsequently by not allowing them a longer period of recuperation afterwards.
I can only imagine how it feels to get the shaft from not one but two major publishers (Interplay and Activision). Surprisingly enough, two out of three of the Troika founders are still working in the games business as of 2007.
I've said very little of the actual game, and for that I apologize, but for those wanting wanting to play the game, there are tips to enhance performance:
- Update the game to official v1.2
- Update the game to unofficial (at the time of writing) v4.1 patch (or alternatively, the new "True" patch)
- Make a shortcut to the game, and do the following steps:
- Turn on the Source console: vampire.exe -console
- Increase the memory heapsize (it should be half your ram; 1gb equals -heapsize 512000)
- Run the game on low priority through Windows' command.
Code: Select all
C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe /c start "Vampire: Bloodlines" /low D:\games\bloodlines\vampire.exe -console -heapsize 512000