||Going back a few years to the millennium, June, 2000, I remember quite plain as day sitting on a holiday over in France thumbing through my copy of PC Zone that was to keep me sustained from my withdrawal symptoms of not having a Playstation or computer for the next few weeks. But it was during that holiday I came across a center-spread page with the exact same picture tagged to this game, with the title Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption. A quick read through that article, and as I'm sure, a decent hour or two looking at the pictures again and again to keep my sanity - I wished my holiday to pass that little bit faster so I could get home and play this long awaited release... And it didn't disappoint, even after 11 years of replaying. But that's not the worst part that I actually remember that, no. The worst part is, 11 years on, I still have that magazine lying about under the eaves, and just as bad, the original big cardboard box the game came in. Hell, I may even just be sad enough to hoke out that magazine for a few screens linked to this to give you guys a taster of an old-school PC magazine review.
Since Bloodlines was on sale a week or two ago as a special offer on steam, I thought some of you guys might like to take a trip to the first game, still available to buy on budget from online stores even after so long.
The story follows Christof Romuoald, a French soldier of the Crusades fighting holy wars in the name of God. Unfortunately for him, during a battle in Moravia, he was gravely wounded and near death, so was taken to Prague where he would be tended by the nuns of the cathedral, and nursed slowly back to good health.
It is while he is on the mend that he happens to take a shine to one of the nuns; something considered a cardinal sin by those of his time, and indeed, more than likely very similar nowadays. After his feelings had become clear to the nun (named Anezka), the corrupt Archbishop Geza banishes Christof from the halls of God. Though Christof swears to patrol the walls of Prague on the night of his banishment, he also swears to protect the cathedral, and Anezka. It is during his patrol that Christof falls to darkness and becomes a Vampire.
The rest of the story follows Christof into his journey to darkness, eternally fighting against his new instincts as a vampire, whilst still trying to grasp onto any humanity he can, as best he can. It is your decision as to whether Christof shall succeed in keeping his old code, or following an even darker, evil route. His journey will span across a thousand years, as he strives to find the nun he fell in love with, trying to rescue her from a dark torment that he himself caused upon her.
Traditionally, VTM:R took on a new kind of control system, trying to keep in line with it's "boardgame pen & paper" origins by being a point & click game. The controls consist of using the mouse and clicking on an area to move to, and right clicking to attack. As a turn-based attack system is used, you shall not have the option to block incoming attacks, but to let them attack as you use your actionbars to cast different spells or actions at the bottom of your screen.
As the game progresses, you will be able to build up your statistics, such as strength, health, agility and endurance. But, as most games play out, you'll need to scour the levels in order to find "tomes" that shall unlock new abilities and spells for your character. As an RPG, you will also be given control of other characters that Christof meets throughout his travel, being able to pause the game mid-play if necessary to switch characters and select a list of tasks for each to carry out during a battle; very useful for the tactical player.
The point & click controls do take a bit of time to get used to for the traditional W A S D FPS/ 3rd Person controls, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be flying in no time.
Unfortunately the Multiplayer for VTM:R is no longer supported, and the server that was used to search and join games has long ceased to be. However, considering the cheap price of the game, the single player is alone worth the money, coming in at around 17 to 20 hours.
For a game made eleven years ago, the graphics are still quite impressive considering it's age, and as you will no doubt already know, any computer these days could handle this little gem of a game.
For those that quite like the feel of VTM: Bloodlines, Redemption should be a nice little addition to give some extra blood sucking fun. It's especially interesting due to the fact that the player will start the game in medieval times using swords, shields and bows, whilst as the game progresses, the player will find themselves using modern weaponry.
The story itself is very immersive, and the player really can begin to feel empathy for Christof as he watches the world change slowly and finds himself in the modern world with contraptions he has never seen. Once such quote to summarize this is "A metal sling that hurls deadly stones" - when Christof "awakes" in the modern age to find a hand gun.
This game ranks as one of my top five favorite PC games of all time, and I would suggest that if you enjoyed Bloodlines, and don't mind the fact that Redemption is point and click, you'll probably find this game an intriguing and fun game.
Before this review finishes, let me suggest however, that if you should purchase this game, be sure to patch it first from 1.0 to 1.1 if the CD installation does not already have the patch available. This is due to one or two glitches in the maps, and also that during 1.0, the player could not save when they wished to, and had to rely on autosave; with rather huge areas to cover between each, whilst 1.1 added the option to save when the player wished.
This will be a first and last no doubt, I'll rate a game 10/10. But for a price under a fiver and near 20 hours gametime with a great story, what's not to like?