Tuesday, November 30th, 2004

So, I spent another five or seven or so hours playing V:tM – Bloodlines yesterday. 

Aw yeah.

I really, really like this game.  Taking Crash’s suggestion, I
eased off running with the highest possible settings everywhere – not
hugely, as the game looks every bit as good as it did before – and some
of the problems with skips and reverb got better.  Much better, in
fact.  Compare this to ToEE when it hit the shelves and you’ve got
two different worlds in terms of completion and playability.

(Crash – I just got Hollywood added to my cab map, but I have some very
minor mop-up to do downtown before moving on, just to give you a
progress indicator.)

Around the 8th hour (total playing time) I figured out how to make
Discipline selection much easier, and then I stumbled across the whole
mouse-wheel thing and then I read Crash’s comment, so now things are
much, much better.  Thaumaturgy owns me.  I love
Thaumaturgy.  I love playing a Tremere.  It wouldn’t have
been such a big deal to swap out Disciplines if I didn’t have an
idiotic standing policy best summed up as “We don’t need no manuals
’round these parts.”  Ah, hubris. 

Now, combat is still clunky as hell.  I mean, damn.  It’s
like they didn’t even try.  On the other hand, I’ve found the
occasional highly exploitable deficiency that benefited me just as much
as any other klunkiness hurt me.  Last night I fought a fifteen
minute boss battle that I won only because my healing took place at the
normal rate but bosses don’t heal in combat and I was able to find
complete cover behind the upturned legs of an overturned coffee table
but the boss character just kept shooting at me without moving despite
his total inability to hit me.  The key is, if they can see you,
they think they can hit you.  That equals time, which equals free

I’m also a little tweaked about the “diverse solutions” the game
claimed it would have to given quests.  Perhaps it’s because I’m
not a particularly menacing or sociable little Tremere, preferring to
run around with a severed human arm in one hand (my preferred melee
weapon) and the other cupped around Thaumaturgy and Dominate like
they’re my two lucky hand grenades (which they are), but I’ve yet to
find many quests or sidequests that involved anything other than
running and fighting at the bottom line.  There’s plenty of
chit-chat along the way, plenty of places to express my character to
the degree I can (I’m a Tremere – I’m kissing the asses of those above
me and stepping on everyone further down the food chain), but I’ve yet
to run into any circumstance I could actually talk my way out of in
terms of boss encounters.  For those, it takes force and lots of
it.  I’m willing to bet it’s a whole different story when you play
a clan with Obfuscate or Presence, though – and that’s what I really
want to try next.

…Which seques into my next point:  now that I’m a dozen or so
hours into the game, I’ve started to feel that this game may actually
have the high replay value so many games promise but, once I’ve played
them, fail to deliver.  The game isn’t so long as to make replay
seem not just boring but in fact sanity-crushing (see Elder Scrolls III:  Morrowind
for an example), and I’m willing to bet the experience is actually
different enough from one clan to another to be worth running through
to see what changes.  I can’t wait to roll through it as a Gangrel
and just claw the shit out of everything, and I think it might be
interesting to roll through it as a Malkavian to see if they do
anything interesting with the player’s experience of the game as
filtered through insanity (a la Eternal Darkness, or whatever that GameCube game was called) or as a Nosferatu with nothing but buckets of Obfuscate.

What ultimately sealed the deal for me last night, though, was an experience that made me realize how true to the flavor of V:tM the game is when compared with the previous implementation of Vampire
on the PC.  At one point the Prince of Los Angeles is telling you
the Primogen are getting antsy because the Sabbat have shown up in
town.  Rather than think to myself No primogen worth her salt
is going to think twice about waxing a few shovelheads – a primogen
should be able to stake antitribu with one hand and fold socks with the
, I found myself thinking, Those primogen won’t last five seconds if they think it’s bad now.  I wasn’t thinking in terms of how the game “should” be, I was thinking in terms of the game as presented.  If they’ve managed to draw me in enough to feel like this is an actual, viable game of Vampire
and gotten me to step past my inherent desire to find fault with anyone
else touching my very favoritest game ever, then Troika have

Now I’m off to pass love letters to Troika during Algebra II. (more…)

Are y’all able to login?

UPDATE:  Nevermind.  Here I am wondering if something
is wrong and instead they’re upgrading Pine for us.  Thank you,
iBiblio!  You rawk!  I’ll quit bitching now. (more…)