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September 24, 2014

Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines Content Rundown


...Good heavens, that's a long title!

Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg (Head Writer)

Verdict: Mature Gamers Only (For Dark Themes and Very Frequent Suggestive Content.)

Release Date: November 2004

Developer: Troika Games

Publisher: Activision

Platforms: Windows

Genre: Action Role-Playing



Areas of Concern:

Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Players take on the role of vampires and can slash, maim and defile people in various ways; 

-They can grab characters and bite their necks, sucking blood out with an arterial spray of blood and groans of pain being heard.

-Players can slash enemies with their claws or swords; bursts of blood are shown and water sound effects are heard. Blood stains the environment and cries of pain are heard. Players can also use blunt objects as weapons, with similar results.

-Characters are shot; bursts of blood and cries of pain are heard. Lots of blood splatters over the environment.

--We see several environments stained with blood, with bloody corpses and pools of blood being shown as well. Some corpses are tied up with blood all over their bodies. One area, described to be used for making prosthetic limbs, has blood all over an operation table and floor, implying that real limbs are chopped off there for those purposes. 

In another area, a headless corpse is impaled through a piece of concrete rebar, lots of blood spilling over it and the surrounding environment. Later on, we see a corpse hanging from a wall, entrails pouring out of his lower abdomen.

--On a videotape, a woman runs through a house, terrified, before being cornered by two-legged monsters in a bloodied bedroom. The one monster pins her to the ground and eats her, a fountain of blood spraying out and she screams in pain. The scene cuts away after two seconds. 

--A mention of a child's severed head being found in a laundry room. We later hear about a child being chopped up and see a picture of a severed arm lying in a blood puddle. Later on we see a picture of the burnt body of a fire victim, muscles and charred face visible and see a realistic looking photo of a dead man with blood pooling from his head, mentioned to be a "murder-suicide."

--A boss in the game is a "Blood Guardian", a humanoid figure literally made out of blood, which splatters all over the environment as he runs around and when you fight him. When killed, he explodes into a puddle of blood.

--A man bangs against the window of a door, screaming, just before his upper body explodes, covering the door window in blood.

--A man has his throat slashed with a blade, then his abdomen is slashed and finally he is stabbed in the back with the blade. He falls to his knees and talks to a person as blood drips from his neck and splatters on the ground, before he runs towards an object, triggers an explosive, laughs and the entire buildings explodes.

--When your character is killed, her or his skin dissolves away, revealing a skeleton underneath, which then also burns away until there is only ash left.

Context of Violence: Shock Value, Dark Humour

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Players go to an adult store at one point; we speak to a man, referred to as the "Prince of Porn". He talks about porn coming in different flavours (ranging from softcore to more graphic forms), sex toys (a whole bunch listed), S&M material (chains and crops), and so on.

You can also access a computer room backstage, talking in detail about the types of porn (genderless sex scenes, videos tailor-made for couples, furries, etc), and we see the total amounts which prostitutes made in the same building.

-Players can attend a peep show: (This is optional) We see a woman dressed in skimpy clothing dancing around suggestively, at one point dancing in front of the screen.

Later on, players can also go to a strip-club, with women performing similar dances and wearing skimpy clothing. Several suggestive posters of women in underwear posing suggestively are seen throughout the building.

--In a stripclub, a woman is shown wearing only pasties over her torso and a thong. Lots of skin is shown. At one point, players have to talk to her, so this is shown in detail. 

--We see several women dressed in revealing clothes such as tank tops and miniskirts/briefs showing off their legs, thighs and lots of cleavage.

-The first scene in the game pans inside a bedroom with a woman's underwear hanging over objects. We see handcuffs attached to a bed as well.

--Dialogue references to strippers (who happen to be former gymnasts), a spam email referring to "enlargement", a woman with a body "built for a bedroom", a woman flirts with another character (possibly female) and there's talk of being "turned up and twisted", "when we get turned on, there's bound to be flames!" "Jeanette wants to check the colour of my [underwear]", a woman randomly says that if a vampire were the last person on earth, she would reconsider her views on bestiality.

-A female vampire speaks in a low, "sexy" kind of voice with much flirting in her dialogue. "This ought to be delicious!" "You get it bad, little girl..." "I'd just love to give you funny feelings at night sweetheart..." "How nice! I was just having naughty thoughts about you..."

--Players (both male and female) can pay prostitutes for services. We hear dialogue referring to getting a date and so forth. Once paid, the screen fades to black and nothing is shown.

--A book guide to voyeurism is featured in the game, talking about how it's a healthy way to express yourself and that you'll be "taping" people in no time.

Context of Sex/Nudity: Fanservice

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Uses of F**k, S**t, Wh**e, Pr**k, C**ks**ker and several other profanities.

-God's name is used in vain.

Context of Language: Grittiness

Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--A couple of references to Confucianism, I Ching, some scenes take place at Chinese establishments and depict dragons and several Eastern pieces of symbolism, a few people are shown bowing down before a Buddha statue and seeming to pray and statues of Hindu gods are shown.

--References to spells, curses, magic and vampire bloodlines. A direct reference to a character being an "occult nut."  References to the circles of hell, mystical orders, rituals, ceremonial drinking of blood, priests and priestesses, relics of the occult, a reference to people wanting to bring Aleister Crowley (a famous occultist) back from the dead,

-A mission features a stereotypical evangelist condemning vampires as "agents of Satan", and he then has a fight with another character. Later on, a Catholic prays that his people will be blessed by the Holy Spirit and that everyone else will be damned in hellfire with Satan.

-We see several vampire creatures ranging from human-like to monstrous. Werewolves also make an appearance in the game.

-Players can cast spells of healing, destruction, mind control, confusion and so on over people and other vampires.

--We see an upside down pentagram with a circle surrounding it.

--At one point, we see a blood-stained altar and a creature nearby talks about spiritual domination and the like, implying that a human sacrifice of some kind occurred there.

--We see the Ankh symbol several times throughout the course of the game. (It's an Egyptian symbol of reincarnation.)

Context of Spiritual Content: Black Magic, Supernatural Beings, Occult

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Players can consume alcohol at a bar or at other places, several characters make references to "booze" and the like, and we hear some characters stammering drunkenly after drinking.

--We hear about a man mixing up "speed" and selling it, a man talks about selling drugs and asks if you're on the "rock", and several other drug related references.

--Several characters smoke during the game. Some of them mention cigarettes in dialogue.

Context of Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco Usage: Atmospheric

Gross Stuff/Gore:

--Players face off against a "boss" enemy, who happens to be a large, human enemy with a huge fleshy gash where his abdomen is, blood and organs shown, and spider-like legs, with gross, bulbous growths on his torso.

--A vampire remarks: "Nice as a well-kept cadaver."

-An email talks about an increased rate of "flatulence."

-A few men are shown urinating in a bathroom, but with no nudity shown.

Scary Stuff:

--The Ocean House Hotel is an extended sequence notable for it's creepy atmosphere. A chandelier suddenly shakes and falls from the roof, players fall through stairs when trying to reach a higher level, a ghostly woman runs across the screen when going down a hallway, a light bursts when walking into a room, paintings clatter and fly off walls at you and a whole lot of cheesy "suddenly moving object" related scares atypical of haunted house stories.

-At one point, you turn around and see a ghost wielding a bloody ax and wearing a cowboy hat staring at you. A ghostly girl says: "He's here."

-Some of the creatures you encounter look very unsettling, with one type of creature being two legs attached to a demonic looking head, a bulging fat man who swings at you with claws, a spider-like creature covered in goo, and so on.

Lyrics/Music:

--Metal and Emo music are featured in the game, with a notably Gothic style and morbid lyrics. (Note: The songs only play when you visit nightclubs and the like.)

Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

Players take on the role of a vampire, desperately trying to keep up the facade and appear to be normal citizens. Players have to fight with their own morality and try not to succumb to their impulses, becoming a darker vampire than ever before.

Most of the morality is player dependent, so it really comes down to the paths you personally decide to take.

Morality Type: Shades of Grey

Thoughts & Impressions:

Well, I can certainly see why this game is divisive. It sports a semi-awkward blend of many elements. The game is like a salad bowl of several different genres, including Horror, Urban Fantasy, Gothic Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Noir, and much more.

The story is a blend of the above, featuring a loosely connected plot about some kind of Egyptian sarcophagus which people are after. The plot is just as jumbled as the game genre, with leaps and bounds from one thread to the next, all making for an awkward and ultimately unfulfilling experience...

...But definitely not a boring one. The craziness and outright weirdness of the plot makes for an interesting and often amusing experience, even if the story takes many confusing twists and turns.

All in all, this game has all the trademarks of a cult classic, with it's zany plot and weirdly awesome characters, make it exclusively for a certain audience, but that certain audience will certainly get their money's worth.

Conclusion:

Let's get to the big issue for many gamers: Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines (still a freakishly long title) features a lot of suggestive material, with skimpily clothed women, strip clubs, brothels, adult stores and many sexual references permeating just about every corner of the game.

Almost all of the women in the game are in a state of undress at one point or another, players can pay prostitutes for favours (not shown).
References and depictions of blood rituals, vampires, Egyptian symbols, curses, spells, demonic creatures and the like are featured in the game. Passing references to the occult and a Satanic pentagram is shown.

Language is pretty heavy, with many uses of the F-word and S-words. Drug references are featured. Morality is sketchy and some dark music is also featured in the game.

All in all, some of you may scoff at the aforementioned, because most of the content is mild considering what most people find on YouTube and the like, but it's still very noteworthy and I urge a lot of caution with the game.

I personally wouldn't buy this game, but if you're able to look past the content, maybe you can find enjoyment in the zany plot and ignore the content issues without batting an eye.

Okay, maybe batting an eye, but still being able to look past it.

Verdict: 18+




For Dark Themes and Very Frequent Suggestive Content.

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