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Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption

Score: 75%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Nihilistic
Media: CD/3
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: RPG/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption are quite fantastic. Each location in the game, be it modern-day or past, dungeon (of which there are many) or city, looks and feels like it should. The lighting effects are excellent, and the character models are clean and crisp. The game uses a modified Quake 2 engine, but you wouldn't know by looking at it, considering how much the interface has been altered. The atmosphere of the game is absolutely spot-on, with every place feeling as it should, and characters looking as they should. The voice acting is sometimes a bit over-the-top in a bad way, but usually fits the bill good enough, if not perfect. The sound effects in the game, from the Disciplines being utilized to the hacking and slashing, to the growls of enemies, all sound quite fantastic. I had some weird echo issues with the 3D sound and whatnot, but I just turned it back to 2D positional audio and it sounded fantastic. You really can't get much better than Redemption when it comes to presentation. (I had a few HOM errors when I was playing, but I couldn't get them to repeat.)


Unfortunately, the gameplay leaves something to be desired. In the single-player Chronicle, you are Christof, a Crusader in the 12th century, fighting for the glory of God. As the quite delicious opening FMV shows you, you take a deadly wound from a barbarian arrow. Next thing you know, you're in Prague, defending it from an onslaught of evil vampires that have taken up residence in the nearby silver mine. Luckily, as you play the game, the plot definitely gets more interesting, picking you up and twisting you in its dark web of vampiric deceit.

For all the greatness of the plot, Redemption's actual execution is lacking. At the beginning, you'll find yourself alone, adventuring into the countryside to slaughter naughties. It certainly is entertaining, but it grows rote pretty quick. And when you find yourself repeating this town-dungeon-town-dungeon business for most of the game, you start to wonder just where the game could have gone, had it chosen to be a little more than a dungeon crawl with White Wolf trappings.

The character AI does nothing to help the situation. The members of your coterie (read: group) have a bad habit of doing absolutely nothing useful, and you have to basically order them around one by one, which can get to be a pretty tedious task. It doesn't help that the game itself throws bizarre loops at you in terms of battle difficulty, either.

And if that weren't bad enough, you'll quickly find out that you can't save the game until you get back to your haven. This means hours spent exploring dungeons with no real save -- the quicksave will keep track of when you last entered a new level, but if anyone other than yourself is playing the game, you can kiss that goodbye -- which can be an absolute pain in the ass. Admittedly, a lot of these flaws are fixable. And Activision is supposedly working on a patch that does just that -- allow you to save anywhere you like, and perhaps improve character AI. But as the game stands now, you'll find yourself more frustrated with the single player experience than enlightened by its admittedly intriguing plot.

Luckily, multiplayer fares much better. Find yourself a good Storyteller and gather some friends to play, and you can bump and jive your way through the closest damn thing to a pencil and paper RPG on the computer. This is a community that I feel is going to grow like wildgrass, considering the strength of the engine and the large number of White Wolf fans. And I hope it does -- like Quake 2, Redemption shines more in the multiplayer than in the single player mode.


Hoo boy. This game's difficulty 'curve' is more like one of those hilly roads. Up, down, up, down, up, down. Whee! Not quite, I'm afraid. You'll find yourself hacking through enemies with the greatest of ease, then rounding a corner and getting handily smashed by whoever's sitting around the corner. Back to the beginning of the level for you! Careful allotment of healing potions and, later, blood can keep you from having this happen too much, but it's still something of a crapshoot. Not the single-player Chronicle's strongest point, I'm afraid.

Game Mechanics:

The engine itself is quite nice, with easy-to-control mouse movements and keyboard shortcuts that remind me of nothing so much as a 3D Diablo. Indeed, much like said game, when you open up something like your inventory (which looks almost identical to Diablo's) or your status screen, it only obscures half of the screen, allowing the other half to be used for still playing the game. You can move the mouse to the edge of the screen to rotate or bank up or down. I have no faults with this, and think that it's a damned fine way to make use of 3D in an RPG.

It's sad to see Redemption in this state. A wonderful idea, with a great license, the single-player experience just does not come up to par. The multi-player will live on, if anything does, but unless you're a fan of White Wolf, or don't mind not having a secure save point for long periods of time and idiotic helper AI, you might want to pass this one up. Or, at the least, wait for the patch.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

3D Accelerator, 233mHz P2, 64MB RAM, Win9x, 720MB HD Space, 4x CD-ROM, DX compatible sound card, mouse

Test System:

Pentium II 350, 128 MB RAM, Viper 770 Ultra (32 MB Riva TNT2 Ultra video card), Windows 98 Second Edition, 32X CD-ROM drive

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