Great moments in PC gaming: Feeding in Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines

Developer: Troika Games
Year: 2004

There are a lot of things you can change about vampires and still have them recognizably be vampires. Not liking garlic? That's pretty optional. Being killed instantly by sunlight? Even Bram Stoker didn't have that. Aversion to holy symbols? Super optional.

But if you get rid of the need for blood you don't really have vampires. There are no scenes in Underworld where a vampire bites someone, and so it ends up feeling like a movie about goths with guns instead. Fortunately, in Bloodlines drinking blood is as important as it should be.

There's a blood meter across from your health, and it goes down whenever you use your cool vampire powers. If it runs out the Beast inside you is unleashed, meaning you'll lose control as frenzy takes over and go on a rampage that's likely to end with cops reducing you to ash. To avoid that you feed whenever you can. Sure, you can suck on a blood pack from the corrupt guy at the blood bank, or you might be able to stomach eating a rat. Most of the time, it means finding a person. 

When you're first let loose on the streets of Los Angeles there are a few warm bodies around. A homeless beggar stands near your front door, a confused yuppie looks lost nearby, a sex worker walks down the road. There's probably a guy pissing in an alley near the nightclub, and inside that club someone you might be able to seduce and leave with a vague memory and one hell of a hickey.

The moment you bite is never underplayed. It's always the most dramatic it can be. Even if you're playing in first-person the camera leaves your body to frame things perfectly, the color drains out of the world and everything goes dark except for a spotlight shining down on you and your victim. You rear back and chomp. The viewpoint spins, the blood meter fills as their health falls, and steadily you unk unk unk away at someone's life. 

Maybe you pull back in time, or maybe you let them die and hear that fatal chord play as they drop out of your grasp. Whatever happens, it's never trivialized or meaningless. In a game that plays almost everything over-the-top and exaggerated for effect, from the outfits to the architecture, feeding is no different. Bloodlines understands that you can't have vampires without blood, and doesn't let you forget it.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.