Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines finds immortality with new 9.0 patch release
As a game all about surviving in a hidden bloodsucker culture on the oblivious streets of Los Angeles, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines fully deserves the embrace of undeath. It was the last effort from masterful RPG studio Troika Games, and its release in 2004 drew much ardor from fans yearning to join the World of Darkness canon—but it's also known as one of the glitchiest games of recent memory.
A troubled development path caused Bloodlines to launch in an unfinished state plagued with bugs, missing dialogue, and other Broken Things. But Bloodlines' heart has kept beating thanks to nearly a decade of fan-made patches—headquartered in the online coven Planet Vampire—fixing longstanding flaws, refreshing textures, restoring hidden content, and generally piecing back together Bloodlines' intended glory. Even better: the game is currently $5/£3 on Amazon.
The latest patch brings the unofficial batch of fixes to version 9.0 (yes, 9.0), but it and its predecessors goes far beyond minor code tweaks. Gameplay changes and additions to quests are also there, furnishing children of the night with more freedom of choice befitting of a Troika game. I can now stealthily tear out the uptight Johnny Tiger's throat (trust me, he deserves it). Or I can now start my budding career as a vampire drug lord via a new quest from pawnshop owner Trip. There's more blood, more dialogue text, and more graphic effects. Above all else, I can more cleanly experience Bloodlines' excellent intertwining storylines between its feuding vampire houses sans aggravating crashes.
Bloodlines hasn't seen much attention outside the realm of its fanbase over the years, but the quantity and quality of its custom patches is as awesome a display of PC gaming love as it can get. With the World of Darkness MMO canceled and any hope of another meaty vampire RPG dependent on fan ambition (keep track of Project Vaulderie, a remake using the Unity engine), a fan-fixed Bloodlines is the best bite out there right now.
Grab the unofficial 9.0 patch from Project Vampire's forums or at its Patches Scrolls host. A word of caution: the patch release coupled with an Amazon sale knocking the game's cost to just $5/£3—if you don't own the game by now, something's wrong with you—so the servers housing the file are pretty hammered as of writing. Stick with it—as many fanged denizens of The Masquerade would tell you, the gift is worth it.