Since the game is running the Source engine, you’d expect it to look good and for the most part the game doesn’t disappoint. Some of the character models don’t look quite as good as their counterparts in Half-Life 2
but they are still outstanding. You know they are good when you say to yourself “That’s the best looking chest hair I’ve ever seen in a game”. The cool eye rendering technology is used well and taken to a cool level later on in the game. I don’t think the quality of the face mapping and syncing is as good as Half-Life 2
but it’s still solid. The only problem I really had is that there aren’t a lot of unique models in the game so you see quite a few duplicate characters which include doppelgangers of your own character.
Troika did an excellent job of rendering the city environments. The buildings are really well designed and add a lot of ambiance to the game. In one section of the game, you can look out onto the city and actually see traffic moving back and forth in the game. It’s these kinds of details that add to the feel of the game.
Good visuals aren’t much without good sound to go along with them and for the most part Bloodlines
delivers the goods. Sounds are fairly well done and things sound like you would expect them. There are a couple of nice touches though. Get near a pack of yuppies in front of one of the clubs and you’re likely to hear a cell phone go off (although it’s a Masquerade violation to feed on the idiots who should have their phones on vibrate).
Troika did a great job with the in-game music. Like Half-Life 2
, there isn’t a lot of music during the game but it’s well used when it’s in the game. As a bonus, the MP3’s are included in the directory structure so if you like the music as much as I did you can listen to the music outside the game.
The good looks come at a price though. The game is a resource hog, more so than Half-Life 2
. If you have problems with Half-Life 2
, then you’re going to have even bigger problems with Bloodlines
. It’s a huge resource hog and you’re going see a bit of choppiness unless you have a high end system and one of the latest cards from ATI or Nvidia. For the most part, you’ll be OK but there are certain combat situations and crowded situations where the game entered slide show mode.
To put it bluntly, the game is also riddled with bugs. This is particularly disturbing given how long that game was rumored to be completed before it was released. I ran into lots of weird animation bugs, weird inconsistencies with the auto save system, and some quirks with some of the character interaction. A casual glance at some of the message boards indicates lots of people were running into problems that prevented them from completing certain quests. Load times are a bit on the long side as well. You’ll want to keep a book nearby so you have something to read or do while the different levels load.
At the end of the day, it’s a solid but flawed game. All of the bugs and hefty system resources hold the game back. Activision recently released a patch that fixed some but not all of the bugs. There’s still a lot of fun built into the game and with seven different races to play there’s a great deal of replay built into the game. I just wish that a little more time had been spent ironing out all of the bugs in the game.
A solid but buggy RPG that requires a lot of horsepower to run well. There's a solid RPG buried under a blanket of bugs and glitches.
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