Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines
This was Troika's third and final released game. Published by Activision, it utilized the second most popular Pen and Paper license today, White Wolf's World of Darkness, and Valve's much lauded Source engine. In gameplay closely resembling such RPG and First Person Shooter hybrids as System Shock 2 and Deus Ex, Bloodlines represented a significant departure from Troika's past titles by being First Person and Real Time. Despite recieving praise for excellent dialogue, story, and atmosphere, Bloodlines failed to be a hit game. This can be attributed to the widely reported bugs and performance issues, the game's same day release with the widely popular Half Life 2, and being hacked just a few days before its official release. In fact the game was so heavily bugged it was impossible to get past one of the later levels without using the cheat console (Society of Leopold).
You play as a recently sired vampire, whose "life" ended after being seduced in a seedy nightclub. Unfortunately, your sire (the vampire who made you one) did not recieve consent from the local leader of the Camarilla to do so. For this offense he or she is put death, but the Prince chooses to spare you. In return he demands your loyalty in completing some tasks for him. These tasks increase in importance when you are asked to locate a recently discovered ancient coffin, called the Ankaran Sarcophagus. It is suspected to hold a sleeping Antedulevian, an ancient vampire of incredible power. Along the way the PC must make allies or at least deals with many other undead.
Gameplay is fairly similar to System Shock 2 or Deus Ex, only with a much more involved RPG system, converted fairly well from the Pen and Paper lisence. Players begin by choosing a gender and a clan, which are also called bloodlines. Based on their chosen clan, players are given so many points to distribute over Atributes (ex. strength, charisma), Abilities (ex. firearms, computers), and Disciplines (ex. Dominate, Celerity). The combination of Atributes and Abilities determine the PC's Feat scores. Feats include Unarmed, Lockpicking, and Seduction. Disciplines are unique to each clan and require Blood Points to activate. Blood can be replenished by feeding on humans. After Character Creation stats can be improved by spending Experience Points (XP). XP is not gained through combat itself, but through completing quests. Completing some quests in an unique way might net extra XP. Some stats can be improved by reading Manuals or by being taught by NPCs.
The game is played out around four hubs: Santa Monica, Downtown, Hollywood, and Chinatown. Hubs only become available one at a time, but it is usually possible to backtrack and visit an old hub, and sometimes necessary. Beyond the hubs, lots of quests will involve other areas. These are usually one time visits.
Bloodlines allows for three different styles of play: Combat, Stealth, and Persuasion. Unfortunately, not all quests can be solved with one of the above, and combat is mandatory at several points in the game. For the end game players may choose to ally themselves with one of four feuding factions, provided the player had good relations with them during the course of the game. Alternatively, there is a "Loner" ending, which is always available.
Features removed from the Gold Game:
As with many games, not all features originally planned made it through the end. Notable in Bloodlines is the absence of Multiplayer and Character Histories. Multiplayer was removed when the Source multiplayer code proved too difficult to use, and what Troika had developed wasn't as entertaining as originally thought. So Multiplayer was scrapped in the face of deadlines and was far from completion. The original multiplayer was to feature Vampire versus Hunters matches and character bonuses for winning. Character Histories, however, were all but finished. Yet, their presence was viewed as too much a burden for the beta testers and were removed from the final product. They can be easily activated using the console, but not all are stable since they were never tested. This is especially true for the Walkthrough. Some Histories include Ninja!, Deceptive Strength, Union Boss, or Dropped on Head as a Baby. A character history slightly modifies the PC's stats, or gives them some special conditions underwhich to play the game. For example, a Malkavian who chooses Ninja! cannot use firearms.
NOTE: Feel free to proofread and organize what I've written so far, and adding links would be of great help.
A note about reviews
It recieved some low scores because it was "Not Half-Life 2: Part Two" was not correct. The game is plagued with bugs which requires a patch-fix which resulted of the poor score review.
Note from some other guy;
It'll be great if anyone can post the console command for activating history here. Thanks a lot!