Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption

Based on the popular tabletop RPG from White Wolf Studios, Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption involves you in an eternal struggle with ancient powers as you fight to hold onto your humanity despite your new (un)life as a monstrous, blood-sucking creature. Redemption has the fortuitous support of multitudes of fans and stacks of supporting game supplements, and it has the advantage of a deep and well-known licence from which to pull its content. Mention Vampire to a tabletop RPG fan, and it's guaranteed you'll get a response, as it easily rivals AD&D as the most popular game on the table.

To really understand Redemption, you have to think of it as a PC story-telling tool, and not as a game in itself. The provided single-player game, while ambitious and admirable, is rather shallow and combat-obsessed compared to the Storyteller mode. In single-player you plumb endless dungeons and slay countless shambling vampires, whereas the Storyteller mode allows you to write the story and be game master as up to three hapless players inhabit your realm. Don't like the combat-rich nature of the single-player game? Then take that very setting and place neutral NPCs that offer quests or simple companionship. In Redemption, the world is what you make it, literally.

For a PC RPG, Vampire looks gorgeous. With graphical quality some-where between the best CRPG and the average 3D action title, Vampire offers longtime White Wolf fans a chance to see onscreen what they've imagined in their heads for so long. The various Disciplines (vampiric spells) come off with subtle flair, and the characters and locations burst with detail unheard of in recent CRPGs. Vampire won't make Quake III sweat, but Diablo II and Neverwinter Nights might do well to take a look.

Vampire is a point-and-click RPG, but past games have done it better. Unlike the brilliant 3D camera in games like Darkstone, Vampire's view sticks closely to your character's backside, so you have to do a lot of camera-swinging to do simple things like retreat from combat or quickly sweep your surroundings. Combat comes down to clicking on an enemy and holding down the left mouse button, and it all moves so fast that it's hard to devise any sort of strategy. Of course, the simplicity of the controls makes for an easy time setting up your own games; creat-ing objects, controlling characters, and other chores from a Storyteller's perspective are all easily done.

Even with its flaws, one is compelled to look past Redemp-tion's shallow single-player offering and embrace the groundbreaking Storyteller mode. The power to create worlds and invite true role-playing to the world of PC RPGs is what drives Vampire to success.

Product: Vampire: The Masquerade - RedemptionDeveloper: NihilisticURL: www.nihilistic.com/tipsThe easiest way to dispatch enemy vampires, by far, is to lure them to you with the Awe Discipline and then feed from them just like you'd feed on a mortal. Awe will make them groggy enough that you'll be able to grab them, and they'll usually let you drain them dry.

The Obfuscate power Mask of a Thousand Faces is useful for disguising yourself in enemy territory. Just right-click on another character and you'll morph to look like that character.

When you're creating a multiplayer game, keep in mind the strength of the player characters and scale enemy strengths accordingly. Mix up combat with involving quests and role-play for the most rewarding experience.

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