"I vant yer blood!" Vampire: The Masquerade -- Redemption is a mix between Darkstone and Nocturne with a touch of extra flare. It's a wonderful story-driven game with an interface to die for, eye-popping visuals and some of the best voice acting in years (c. 2000). The game should come with a warning label because you will have dreams about it!
The game is easy to understand and adapt to but a high-performance computer set-up is preferred. Speaking of which, the options are numerous, starting with the ability to customize your video and audio configuration and other features. All of these details really control how well your system will perform and the type of visuals you achieve depends on the quality of your video card. Although the game can be entirely mouse-driven, the use of shortcut keys comes in handy because there is plenty of onscreen action in real-time.
In addition to a unique interface that displays high-polygon moving heads of your characters, indicating the status of your health via emotions, the actual camera view is large enough for gameplay although it is limited. This can lead to a slight hindrance during a fight; however, you have the option of viewing from a first-person perspective that allows you to take in the awe of the beautiful environment. Unfortunately, this mode is only limited to viewing, not fighting.
On that note, the graphics are some of the best seen in a computer RPG to date. Almost every possible effect available in RPG gaming through the 1999-2000 time frame is contained in this game! Unlike Deus Ex, the 32-bit color depth is truly utilized. Most of the cut-scenes use in-game graphics, oozing with Hollywood-like imagery. Another crisp aspect of note is the plethora of voiceovers done by some of the best voice actors heard in a long time. Add a nice soundtrack and sweet sound effects and you get the best sense of realism (although some sound sources are obvious, like sipping from an empty McDonald's soft drink cup).
The game's multi-player capabilities provide an almost endless amount of entertainment and replay value. Being the host is probably the most fun since you can become any of the NPCs at any time; you can also essentially create your own world for others to explore. There is a set of default stories to get you started but once you're into it, you can come up with your own. Too bad there isn't more replay value in the single-player mode.
However, despite these benefits, the game does have issues, much like any game shipped before its time. The collision detection system is way off as is your party's AI path-finding whenever you regroup -- the characters tend to bump into things and get stuck! Other problems are minor but noticeable, such as graphic glitches (walking through solid objects and barriers) and a flaw that allows you to occasionally bypass a task and go on to the next, yet still end up achieving your goal!
Generally, the game is fairly linear in most regards. In that respect, it's most noticeable during the multiple-choice dialogue sequences, not too unlike Ultima IX: Ascension and perhaps even Revenant. Although you're given a choice of answers from which to choose, for the most part, you end up with the same results. The game follows a good plot but takes you there in almost direct sequence. There's no comparison to the non-linear types such as seen in Eidos's Deus Ex.
Yet within the RPG genre, Vampire: The Masquerade -- Redemption pulls out all stops and makes for one of the better RPGs for the PC at the turn of the century (not to mention the fact there is a Y2K essence to it). Coupled with well-written dialogue, a great cast of characters and a multi-player system rivaling Diablo and EverQuest, what more could one ask for -- other than blood itself?
Graphics: With almost every effect available for its time, the game sets the stage for forthcoming RPGs with its new interface and awesome 3D engine.
Sound: Game companies should take notice of the use of really good voice actors of the type heard in this game. Along with a unique, scary soundtrack and superb sound effects, nothing could be more effective.
Enjoyment: Gameplay is almost flawless except for the AI path-finding and limited default camera view, however, the overall game is breathtaking and pulls you into the story and the myth.
Replay Value: For those White Wolf pen-and-paper types, one can finally say this is one PC RPG that lives up to its name. However, only in multi-player mode can you really continue the fun once solitaire play is complete.
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Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, Diablo, Ultima 9: Ascension, Elder Scrolls 3, The: Morrowind, Temple of Elemental Evil, The, Diablo 2, Planescape: Torment, Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn
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