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Head 2 Head Review: Vampire: The Masquerade-Redemption

The Match-Up:
Name: Sean B. (a.k.a. Paladin) e-mail me

Favorite Genres: RPG , Space/flight sims, Turn Based Strategy(some RTS), Sims

Favorite Games: "Everquest, Starlancer, Baldur's Gate, Rogue Spear, Diablo"



Name: Tristinian (a.k.a. Commodus) e-mail me

Favorite Genres: RTS, RPG, Adventure, Action/FPS, Sims

Favorite Games: Baldur's Gate, Half-Life, Unreal Tournament, Red Alert, Jedi Knight

Paladin: Hey there, welcome to the Head 2 Head review of Vampire The Masquarade : Redemption.

Tristinian: Highly touted as being the RPG to look forward to this summer, this game has seen a lot of mixed reviews. Once again (like the RTS genre) we see another game attempting to go 3D-this time in the realm of role playing games.

Paladin: Quite successfully, I might add. :) As with games like Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale, Vampire TM:R is based on a pencil and paper role playing system. And like its predecessors, the gameplay itself closely resembles the original game.

Tristinian: Indeed it does. However, let's briefly go over the storyline of this game. The main character, Christof is a crusader who is a member of a swordsman brotherhood, responsible for the slaying of many Vampires. Ironically, Christof himself ends up being turned into a Vampire near the game's beginning and his new immortal life ensues. Mix this with a love story and you have Vampire: TMR.

Paladin: With the pencil and paper game behind it, Vampire has a rich and detailed history. The story of Christof falls during two distinct time periods, that of the dark ages and the modern era. It is truly refreshing to see a game spend a lot of time building up the story and immersing the player in the game.

Tristinian: Well, immersing? Not at the beginning. The graphics do quite a good job of getting you into the world of Christof, but the game story starts off a tad dry. Regardless though, the essence behind the game is a good one. The vampire-based plot isn't done often in RPGs now-a-days. The game doesn't really get interesting to any extent until Christof is turned. It's a good thing that happens early in the game. :)

Paladin: Dry?! I can't see how you can say that the beginning was dry. It perfectly introduced us to the type of person and character that Christof is. This leads us to view a man fighting his own morals and convictions when he becomes the evil that he had fought all of his life. Hehe, didn't mean to get preachy. It's just that RPG's don't always have a great storyline behind it. The graphics found within the game are fantastic and add to the feeling of being in the dark ages. It adds to the feeling of an old medieval town but with a dark and mysterious aura.

Tristinian: Yes, the graphics are nice. It is up there with Ultima 9 in terms of the best graphics in an RPG-particularly a 3D RPG. However, to be completely honest, the world doesn't seem like an explorable expanse at all. That was a bummer. You are confined to certain areas and the game is based heavily on sub-quest completion. But, despite this, the game sucks you in and makes you want to play anyway. Becoming Christof the Vampire actually makes you feel like a 'good bad guy' which is a nice balance for those who like to play as either or. The game is sweet to view too.-the animations are smooth and the story is made more interesting when you see the surrounding environments.

Paladin: He he, the graphics are better than Ultima 9 (in my mind at least, why play a game that was never shipped complete?). But I do see your point, it would have been more enjoyable if the game world was explorable. As it seems, there are only certain scripted areas for the gamer to travel. Games like Baldur's Gate gave the gamer so many different areas to explore. You could leave the main area and find quests to do within sections on the other side of the map. In Vampire TM:R, it seems that you are only supposed to travel through the areas that will further the main storyline. Having some secondary quests and zones would have brought more detail the character of Christof and the game.

Tristinian: Couldn't have said it better myself. However, zoning limitations and graphics aside, there are some other things that this game does either very well, or not well enough. Let's start with the camera and pathfinding. The camera in VTMR follows in 3 dimensions around Christof and this is quite a nice addition. Problem is, the camera can't even let your character look upward (when i say this i am not referring to the stationary 'z' key function which let's you look in any direction as you hold 'z' down-i refer to the default 3rd person mode) and its main functioning is very rigid. The 'z' function is somewhat nice, but it doesn't let you move around etc. in that mode at all without the annoying 'pre-clicking'. Ultima 9 (despite what its retractors say) had a stellar 3d camera and let you see up, down sideways-anything-all in the default 3rd person perspective. VTMR could have learned a lesson there. Also, the pathfinding-VTMR uses a point-and-click navigation system that gets hard to handle. Characters get stuck, run into each other-a big mess. Once again, if 3rd person-like controls (ala Ultima 9-sorry, it did SOME things right) were implemented, this would be fixed and gameplay would be far smoother.

Paladin: Ultima 9 doing some things right? How so? And after how many patches? hehe I have to disagree with you about the camera controls. I found that using the mouse to control the camera angles was a great part of the game. It was nice being able to look around the corners and all around a room with just a movement with the mouse. So you can't look up, I'm sure that there really isn't much to see at night anyways. :) Ultima 9 had some of the worst camera controls that I have ever seen. Granted, not being able to look up might upset some (I guess you would be one :P ), I don't think it has any real effect on the game itself. Now about the pathfinding problems, I too thought it was frustrating. Like how many times did I want to see Christof jogging on the spot because something was in the way. It was really sad to see such a game have a problem like this.

Tristinian: Yes, but i am not talking about the camera movement as much as i am talking about the general character movement. You should feel more like you ARE your character in a game such as this and he should move instinctively. Vampire doesn't do that. The attacking process is also a pain. Holding down a mouse button to keep attacking shouldn't be necessary. And stop dissing Ultima 9-after patches, the game was good-ok? ;P Now, as for Vampire, even though i have the problems i mentioned it's the small things that make this game enjoyable. The graphics are a huge part of course, but the meeting of new NPCs, the new enemies one always runs into, the actual process of drawing blood from another being. THOSE things truly make the milieu that it seems this game was striving for. (although it should have avoided having in-engine cut scenes featuring NPCs that are dead-THAT was a huge mistake and it could have been avoided SOMEHOW i would think)

Paladin: Yes, the game does have a lot going for it with the small details. There are more than enough main NPCs to interact with but the game is lacking in the ordinary monster category. When I was running through the different zones and dungeons, it would seem that I was fighting the same creature over and over and over again. Some of the monsters would find their way into the other dungeons that you had to explore. More variety would have made these parts of the game less boring. I do like the fact that during interactions with the main NPC's, you can challenge them by provoking the more powerful vampires. I just didn't understand why they allowed me to live after angering them more than once. :) And about Ultima 9, I will never give up the fight to prove that the game was buggier than a swamp. HEHE

Tristinian: Buggy-yes, but there is no way that anyone can deny that it was the pioneer of the 3D RPG genre and did a fairly good job once patches were applied. But with Vampire, i was kinda cool with the variety of creatures with the exception of the first level (silver mines). Otherwise, although it seemed characters within a level were very much the same, they changed greatly from level to level. The music is also good for this game-gothic and dark, like a vampire game should be.

Paladin: The music was a nice addition and perfectly complimented the graphics. Not only did the game have a 'gothic' look to it, the sounds were dark and mysterious as well. The sounds also added credibility to the game. It was nice to hear accents on the vampires since it was taking place in Europe for the most part (yeah, I know the last area was New York). The designers did their homework when they added such features.

Tristinian: Well, overall, despite the problems i have with it, this game is pretty decent and is one more stage in the life of the young 3D RPG genre. As with Ultima 9, you aren't going to see a perfect 3D RPG until later on, but Vampire: TMR doesn't disappoint if you are looking for an RPG with a lot of conventional hack and slash. It's additional multiplayer mode is also neat to have around, but it too has it's share of annoying tendancies and the storyteller mode in particular can be IMMENSELY time consuming. But hey, a few fixes and this game is on its way.

Paladin: I agree, this game was still fun to play and I enjoyed the way I was immersed within the story. With games like Baldur's Gate 2 and Diablo II in the distance, VTMR might have some problems staying as the top RPG. But the designers of VTMR can hold their heads high, knowing that they released a much better game than Ultima 9, the competition for the time being. For a 3D RPG, VTMR is one of the best ones out there.

Tristinian: so what would you assign it in terms of a grade?

Paladin: Thought you would never ask! :P I think that while the game has some problems, the designers have already told the gaming community that most of them will be fixed in the first patch. For this reason, I have hopes that it will truly be a fantastic game. At the moment, the game being as it is deserves a grade of 80%. Not bad as grades go, but it could have been higher if and when the problems are fixed.

Tristinian: Yes i agree with that point-the patch looks promising, but this review unfortunately is being written prior to its release. As for decimating Ultima 9-in some ways it does and in some ways it doesn't. But either way, this game without the patch i think deserves a 78%. If the patch works the way it's expected, it gets 2 more percent from me, but until then, 78 is what it's worth right out of the box. :) Ultima 9 obviously deserved less out of the box, but keep in mind that it forged the way for the genre-all new types of games have their growing pains.

Paladin: Hehe, guess that's the final say on Vampire The Masquarade : Redemption. But remember, this is only the beginning of the Ultima 9 bashing. Mwahahahahahahaha

Tristinian: Arrrrrgh....i hate you. ;)

Paladin's Mark
Paladin's Final Words
Tristinian's Final Words
Tristinian's Mark
the designers of VTMR released a much better game than Ultima 9
Vampire doesn't disappoint if you are looking for an RPG with lots of conventional hack and slash

The Graphics (can't go wrong here):

The architecture of the levels and the pleasing lighting and textures are probably one of VTMR's greatest assets. You'll probably find yourself trying to crank up the detail and resolution levels too once you realize how few resources this game demands in comparison to Ultima 9.


The Pathfinding:

Navigating winding stairs and other tight corner situations might prove a little annoying because of the pathfinding problems in the game. 1st/3rd person controls could have helped here. But, if you do get annoyed, take a deep breath, relish the scenery and try again.

The NPCs:

Your NPC buddies in the game are both helpful and yet somewhat flawed. Don't be surprised if you are left to hang out to dry in a battle sequence when your crew doesn't come to your aid, but at the same time, each member has their own ability to do something that will ultimately come in handy for you as you progress through the game.