Modern films and books portray vampires as seductive individuals - who feature eternally sexy looks and a portfolio of desirable powers. Indeed, it is these two traits that are often picked up by 'vampire goths' - allowing them to add an interesting 'twist' on their mortal lives. Despite this, vampires should be regarded as dangerous because it is believed that a vampire is a human being that has passed through some type of 'physical death' - and yet avoids 'true death' by preying on the sustenance of others. The various known vampire types shall now be considered:
Immortal Physical Vampires (the Fallen Ones)
Steeped in tradition and hierarchy, these vampires have existed since the dawn of time. The original three are believed to have been cast out of Heaven (by God himself). God then sent Michael (and other Angels) to destroy them. Although the three were defeated, it is believed that their bodies fell to Earth, where over time, man found them - and started to worship them. Eventually, the three were able to rise again - and walk amongst mankind, but with a new taste for blood (and forgoing their angelic roots). These three have now spawned vast families, which are believed to have woven their way into every facet of human civilisation (including banking, organised crime, transport, etc.). These families are known as:
Ba'al. You should beware of greedy humans, as just maybe they have some of these vampires' traits in them - for these vampires main passions are greed and power. To help them obtain the latter of these, they possess talents of charm and lust - although it is also said that they are not overly handsome/pretty. Another trait can be shared with their human kin - a tendency to boast. They are bestial towards humans - especially once they have got what they wanted (whether that is in business or relationships). They are also known as deceivers - and are adept at mind control; both of which help lure humans to their fate.
Belial. These vampires are believed to be the closest to humans - as it is said that they experience the full range of human emotions, such as: love, hate, friendship, sadness, excitement, etc. Because they suffer remorse for their actions (e.g. for feeding) - they likely attempt to limit their taste for blood. This does not mean however that they should be considered as lovers! As they are still capable of all manner of nasty deeds. In earlier times, they fled to the furthest corners of the world. In recent times, they have been forced to integrate much more into our society. Their penance? The fact that they might go mad from bottling up too much remorse.
Moloch. The battlefields of Ancient Earth may very well have been ripped apart by these assailants of the night - for they know only one thing: destruction. They are the most skilled in slaughter - and have the traits to match; being both physically powerful and fuelled by anger. Although military might is theirs, they seem to possess little regard for neither personal grooming nor the intricacies of fashion. They have been linked with the bloodshed of the Vikings and many other great conquests/conflicts over the centuries. It follows that this family of vampire are the most unsuitable for human relationships.
All three have the power to shape-shift into animals (such as bats, snakes, spiders and wolves). Larger animals (such as Jaguars and Leopards) are a speciality of Belial. A vampire may change shape when it wishes to spy, escape or scare (e.g.).
All three are believed to be blessed with great strength, quick reflexes/agility and a high speed of movement - all of which helps them view humans as their 'play things'.
Powerful Fallen can also control the bodies of dead humans (as slaves). These are usually called Ghouls - and depending upon how much time and effort the Fallen invests these could even pass for human. Ghouls should not be confused with Zombies (which are traditionally associated with witchcraft). [There's little hope of a Zombie passing as human - since they are always decaying].
Mortal Physical Vampires
Throughout history, some individuals have suffered from unexplainable blood lust, and several have carried out enough 'acts' that they have earned the title 'Vampire':
Vlad Dracula. It is believed that he would punish individuals by impaling them on wooden stakes (for his amusement). It is however, unclear as to whether he actually drank the blood of his victims (since he seemed only to excel at spilling it).
Elizabeth Bathory. It is believed that her kiss sealed the fate of many a man. She was responsible for hundreds of murders - and seems to have been especially fond of torturing her prey.
In modern times, some mortals may enjoy drinking the blood of others - however this seems to be conducted (mostly) at the 'donors' will (or even simply by ordering a rare steak at their favourite restaurant).
Un-intentional Psychic Vampires
It is generally accepted that ill, injured and/or older people are 'less active' than others. In occult terminology, this means that the amount of life-force (i.e. aura/unseen energy) produced by such individuals will be less than that produced by healthy persons. Therefore, such vampires unconscious minds may attempt to top-up their 'batteries' (so to speak); by feeding off the life-force of others for the purpose of self-preservation - without the vampire fully realising what it is doing. Consider: have you ever met someone that just seems to drain your energy when you're around them - for no explainable reason? If so, it's possible (at the very least) - that they could fall into this category of vampire.
Intentional Psychic Vampires
Very dangerous - as these knowingly feed off the psychic energy of others to maintain their existence (i.e. top-up their astral bodies to avoid 'true death'). Such attacks seem to occur at night - and victims often awake to feelings of dread, accompanied by an inability to move and/or speak (e.g. temporary paralysis induced by shear dread - or perhaps a hypnotic effect emanating from the vampire). It also seems to be common to experience 'weight' on the victim's chest - and to see some kind of shadowy figure/fog (aka 'phantom'). It seems that such vampires also have the ability to 'fly away' and transform their shape. There also exists the possibility, that this type could be evil witches/sorcerers, who can leave their bodies and attack others (whilst still living as mortals). Either way, these vampires usually feature an array of tendrils/tentacles - that allow them to feed from their victims.
The astute reader that has also read my article on ghosts may also believe that one of my encounters there could have been an intentional psychic vampire. I to have thought this - however I know that I was able to move my arms (which rules out paralysis for starters), and I also did not see any 'phantoms' (at least with my eyes).
NOTE: Such psychic vampires could also simply be an extension of the Fallen's powerful mind control abilities (i.e. not separate types in their own right).
What Makes a Vampire?
This can depend upon the type of vampire - however some general theories have been considered (and proposed) throughout history:
Afraid of the 'afterlife'. Some people dread the unknown - and may attempt to cheat death all together.
Bitten/Drinking the blood of a vampire. This is indeed how the descendants of the Fallen have been created.
Excommunication. Someone who is cursed by a priest to never find peace nor move on.
Greedy/Selfish. Whether its money or youthful looks - some may think it should be theirs forever.
Improper burial rites. This seems less likely these days - especially with improved methods of burial and cremation.
Predatory. Some humans are simply predators - so why should that change with death?
Violent deaths. Those taken before their time could seek some kind of 'revenge' (this would seem more likely if the individual had an interest in vampires).
Identifying a Vampire
This can be a tricky task (because of a vampires mind control abilities), but a strong willed person may notice:
Continual use of an old (depreciated) language.
Excitement/Stress when there's blood (or meat) around.
Incorrect reflection (in mirrors).
Strange reaction to faith (including its symbols - such as a cross).
Wearing of old/out-of-date clothes.
NOTE: it is not safe to assume that vampires can't come out in daylight. It is perhaps better to say that vampires simply prefer the night.
Weapons Used to Protect Against Vampires
First, those that were common in the past (when 'hunting and killing' a vampire was more common):
Burning. Helps release mystical power.
Decapitation. 'If it can't see - then it can't hunt'.
Holy/Blessed swords (etc.). Ability to grant the wielder power on unseen levels.
Wooden stake. Destroys ability to animate a vampire's corpse (via the heart).
Silver. Usually a bullet, arrow tip or crossbow bolt.
Secondly, those that could still be used today (far more protection based):
Garlic. Either eaten or hung around your house. It contains allicin, which is believed to be very detrimental to vampires.
Holy/Blessed crosses (etc.). 'Fashion accessories' that could help grant you protection (especially if you believe in what they represent).
Psychic shields. The more magically inclined could erect one of these (e.g. a ritual involving: purification, banishing and 'astral body programming'). [Of most use against psychic vampires/abilities].
It is worth noting that belief in Vampires, in one form or another, appears to be widespread: America, Africa, China, Europe and India; and in such places was well established - even before the time of popular fiction/films. Such beliefs also appear to have existed since many earlier times (including Egypt - where it was believed that Pharaohs needed more than one lifetime to accomplish their work). The Fallen also have strong ties with Egypt - since it is believed that they 'spread' from there.
She looked at me across the room - her primal instincts called to me. I knew she was a monster - but still she drew me in ...
How many think such thoughts? How many would secretly like to date a Belial? (More than you'd think!). If it's all fiction - then it's very good. If based on reality (or at least some is) - then we should be afraid. Either way, it seems likely that this romance shall continue - even as we 'reach for the stars'.
Vampires and Werewolves
Modern fantasy films and books often portray an entire 'hidden world' of Vampires and Werewolves, with the two 'beings' usually hand-in-hand, within the same fantasy world. Whilst it is usual for the Vampires to regard themselves as 'being better' than the werewolves, it is also common for the two to be portrayed 'as equals'. Particularly, when it comes to Dark Fantasy battles - as both Vampire and Werewolf, are lethal on the battlefield ('within battle' both vampire and werewolf can be considered as 'rampaging beasts').
Many men aspire to be greater than they are. One such path may be that of the werewolf - but it is a double handed path. On the one hand, such a man would gain acute senses (such as sight, smell and hearing) together with increased strength, the ability to heal almost any wound, be long-lived and gain positions of power (over time). But on the other hand, they are forced to endure the transition to wolf every full moon, where the wolves' instincts shall come to the front - and as a result, they are likely to be hunted by other men.
Vampires and Werewolves are the most prominent 'mythical creatures' within the realms of Dark Fantasy. They are different to other mythical creatures, because it is generally accepted that you 'become a vampire' and/or you 'become a werewolf' - you don't just 'start of' as a Vampire or Werewolf (from birth). This gives rise to the interesting question of Vampires and Werewolves with their 'former lives'. Could they 'continue' with their former lives? Even within the realms of fantasy, the answer to this question 'seems to be no' - as their just 'too different'. Even so, I suspect that Vampires and Werewolves still dream (even if 'only in memory') ...
In the Doors of a Vampire, in the Blood Lust of the Moon. In the Riddles of a Serpent, in the Whispers of the Twilight. That's just where you'll find her, the First of her Kind, the Oldest of the Old, the Queen of the Vampires - a Midnight's Seductress, Adam's First Wife, a Princess of Darkness, Lilith:
For in Midnight's Verse, was it not written ... That only on the Darkest Nights - would you Dream of Lilith. I saw her once, with Fiery Red Hair, Temptress of Men, worry of Wife. I saw her twice, with guise of the Serpent, Charmer of Faithful, bane of the Husband. For this Vampire called Lilith, knows only too well - the Lure of the Lunar! For in Daybreak's Verse, was it not written ... That only on the Sunniest Days - would you Ponder of Lilith. I saw her once, down by the Pool, Fountain of Fun, worry of Half. I saw her twice, down by the River, Silver of Line, fret of the Other. For this Vampire called Lilith, knows only too well - the Warmth in a Hug! For in Sleepless Nights, was it not written ... That only on the Hottest Eves, under the Reddest Moon, of a Stormy Night, in the Velvet Sheets, of a Midnight's Realm - could a Vampire called Lilith, bring to bear, her Curves of Seduction, and her Charms of a Serpent. For this Queen of Vampires walks within, thy Paths of the Temptress ... A Vampire's Powers of subtle curves, that blend and twist, with Bite of Fang. A Heavenly Body that knows for well, the Spell that She Casts, in Want of Touch. A Vampire's Spells of perfect form, that twist and turn, with Rend of Nail. A Flawless Guise that knows for well, the Sins of this Night - Desires of Taste, Forbidden Fruit! For Lilith knows, only too well, the Charms of a Snake, and the Fork of a Choice ... Be thee Good as Gold, or Bad as Boy - she knows thy type, flutter Bad. Be thee White as Saint, or Red as Fire - she knows thy guise, Fiery Heart. Be thee Nice as Pie, or Sin of Cake - she knows thy taste, Chocolate Flake. Be thee Wait in Line, or Jump thy Queue - she knows thy way, Careful Sneak. Be thee Toe thy Line, or Do what Thou - she knows thy Time, Follow Me. Be thee Know thy Place, or Speak as I - she knows thy Path, it's My Way! For this Vampire Queen, forever took - thy Paths of Temptation, and the Sins of the Night :) For this Vampire Queen, walks hand-in-hand, with Pillow Talk, and Missing Time! And so it was ... A whisper came to me ... Where in Midnight's Realm does Lilith abide? Her answer came: a Fantasy City, at the Edge of Midnight :) With her stone-like Pillars, and her Sheets of Passion, she barres the way, to her Sin of Sins. A whisper came to me ... Where in Midnight's Realm does Lilith reside? Her answer came: in her Fantasy Domain, at the Red of the Moon :) With her Ruby Veins, and her Darkened Side, she guards the way, to her Heaven's Body. A whisper came to me ... Where in Midnight's Realm does Lilith lie? Her answer came: in her Fantasy Realm, at the Foot of the Bed :) With her Sensual Sheets, and her Silken Touch, she guides the way, to her Midnight's Kiss. A whisper came to me ... Where in Midnight's Realm does Lilith seduce? Her answer came: in your Mind's Eye, at the Start of a Dream :) With her Wish all the Way, and her Mistress Spells, she knows the way, to her Fruits of the Vampire! For Lilith is ... A Fantasy Being, where all Men wonder, for the Barest of Seconds - what if ... I listened to the Call of the Serpent? I agreed with the Logic of the Snake? I smiled with the Sanity of the Python? Well then ... I'd be a Vampire of the Night! Both bowing and betrothed to Lilith. I'd be a Vampire of the Night! Both protected and slaved to Lilith. For I would be a Vampire King, from Dark Fantasy Falls, with my Kingdom in the Night ... A Prince of Darkness would I be, with Power to shake - the Foundations of the Earth! But ... With a Whisper to Adam, from this Eve - Lilith has no need of Kings, but I do of Eve :)
In the Darkest of the Nights. In the Whitest of the Moon. In the Thickets of the Woods. In the Guise of a Werewolf:
Within this Woodland Realm, lurks He - who Snarls this Night. Within this Misty Wood, lurks He - who Lures this Eve. Within this Moonlight Realm, lurks He - who Howls this Twilight. Within this Forest Glen, lurks He - who Walks this Path! But what Path would that be then? Well ... Thy Path of thy Werewolf - but of course :) For it is an Ancient Path, that's Steeped in Lore ... For only in the Darkest Nights, in the Darkest Woods - can you See Them. For only in the Brightest Moons, in the Brightest Haze - can you Hear Them. For only in the Blackest Clouds, in the Blackest Skies - can you Feel Them. For only in the Whitest Mists, in the Whitest Dews - can you Sense Them. For only in the ... Growl! On a Night like this, in a Forest like this - may you See Them ... Steeped in Lore, and Steeped in Fantasy. Steeped in Myth, and Steeped in Sight. Steeped in Shadow, and Steeped in Lunar. For I see a Werewolf - in his Bestial Form ... With Fur on Muscle, both Long and Flow. With Claws to Tear, both Sharp and Point. With Tail of Whip, both Twirl and Slender. With Piercing Eyes, both Green and Maleficent. With Skeletal Hands, both Strong and Vice. With Nose to Sniff, both Hunt and Stalk. As it is with these Werewolves, and their Hunting Ways ... Built for Battle, in their Heightened Frenzy. Built for Speed, in their Paws of Four. Built for Ravage, in their Strength of Ten. Built for Chase, in their Mark of Wolf. Built for Warring, in their Need for Fight. Built for Pack, in thy Brothers Will! For this Werewolf is ... Thy Master, of this Midnight's Path :) But can this Werewolf see me? Well ... With a Sniff of Scent - his Torso Twisted. With a Hint of Sweat - his Sharpened Claws. With a Sound of Rustle - his Barring Teeth. With a Snap of Twig - his Growling Voice. With a Tremble of Branch - his Glowing Eyes. With a Sense of Fear - he's Honed on You! As it is with these Werewolves, and their Sense of Self ... Some Tattered Jeans, around his Waist - no Human Eyes, just Greenish Glow. Some Whispers of Man, around his Chest - no Human Skin, just Wolf-like Fur. Some Stance of King, around his Form - no Human Cower, just Strength of Wolf. Growl!! Thy Werewolf and his Victim ... No Thought of Reason, just Dream of Hunger. No Look of Friend, just Guise of Prey. No Need of Logic, just Want of Eat. Growl!!! For this Werewolf, is Home in both - Dark Fantasy, and Heart of Woods. For this Werewolf, is Known by both - Creatures of Night, and Guardian of Forest. For this Werewolf, is Slave in both - Powers of Moon, and Lunar Hour. For this Werewolf, is Pride in both - Secret Woods, and Regal Guise. For this Werewolf, is Herald in both - Harbinger of Death, and Hunting Pack. For this Werewolf, is King in both - Midnight's Realm, and Darkest Nights. He'd Seen Me!
Being the fourth Vampire novel, in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, do I find this Dark and Urban Fantasy Tale, to be a passionate mix of both Anita's Love Life, and thy Secret Realms - of thy Werewolves:
Being hip deep in both, it's as though Anita, is on the verge of drowning ... Her Passions Run Deep, and a Promise is a Promise - Deputy Numb Nuts :) And yes, there's a fair amount of humour, within this Fantasy Tale! For me though, is this intermixed, with an important underlying theme - that of Family ... There's the Werewolves and their Pack Order. There's the Vampires and their Hands Off. There's the Spook Squad and their Silver Bullets. And in the middle of all three, can you find - Anita!!! I liked the fact that Anita, refused to give up her friend - even if her boyfriend, was his Alpha. I liked the fact that Anita, shed a tear or two - even if her rival, was her Jealous. I liked the fact that Anita, stemmed the flow of blood - even if her colleague, was her Rag (aka joker). For it's Anita's Character, and her sense of self, that flows throughout this tale. For it's Anita's Enemies, and their stance of power, that stalks throughout this tale. For it's Anita's Weapons, and their sense of comfort, that beds throughout this tale. And in all of this? Is there Jean-Claude, who wants a date! Fairs Fair Anita, give me a chance to woo you - as you did to me :) Now, if there's one part that shocked me (the most) within this tale, then I would say - it's the hierarchy of the Werewolves. The tale here, gave me a sense, that they were all: out of control! Insane Pack Order, seemed to help with this ... There's two Master Werewolves, but neither has - over all control. One prefers Peace - the other: Head on a Block. One requests Anita - the other: Seeds of Lust. One's Richard. One's Marcus. One's Marcus. One's Richard. For it's Werewolf Central, that's Caged behind - Closed Doors, and Sound Proof Walls. Or is it? As in this tale, did I find that the Secrets of the Werewolves - flowed like a River :) And in that River, that goes by the name of Shape Shifter, did I find both Mythical Creatures, and their Fantasy/Lore ... For example: I've never heard of a Naga before, but here - is their an Immortal Being, with the Skin of a Snake. I've never heard of a Were-Swan before, but here - is their the lowest of the Shape Shifters, especially in Feathered White! And of the Werewolves themselves? I was most intrigued, because their Human Lives, seemed to be lived in the pursuit, of challenging their Human Shackles. There's two that I would say, challenged this more than others - and no, it's not the Alphas! The two Fantasy Characters that I'm thinking of (one Woman one Man), both made me laugh (especially the woman - over whose rules she follows!), and both surprised me (over just how low they could steep - in their pursuits of pleasure?). Fortunately, throughout all of this, did I find Anita's Character - to be a rock. Even if at times, it is only the cold hard steel, that she clamps down on - but where is her gun? Choices! Choices! As for the other Characters within this Fantasy tale, it's mostly Cops. I didn't like some of these, and neither does Anita. There's a whole part (near the beginning of the book), that just seems totally crazy - with certain Deputies, taking their orders, too literally ... It is also here that I feel, that the tale does a decent job, of portraying some of the lunacies, of interstate boundaries (between various police forces) - although as you will see, there's a twist here to! And as for Anita? It made me laugh, that she was concerned primarily, with an important question (or two): Can she date a Werewolf? Can she date a Monster? AKA: Is Richard really a Monster? And what of Jean-Claude? Choices! Choices! Fortunately for Anita, does she have a trusty friend to help her: a Penguin or two :) Overall: I enjoyed reading about the Werewolves within this tale, even if I feel, that some of their Urban Fantasy, shocked me a little (as it seemed a little Darker - than I've encountered before). I also found myself thinking, of the Wolf in Werewolf - more than the Man in Werewolf. Although the twist towards the end (involving a Witch and her Magic), brought new meaning to the term - Shape Shifter! For it's a Witch's Spell, that Anita Blake does cast. For it's an Animator's Gift, that Anita Blake, can look a Vampire in the Eye. For she's a Vampire Hunter, with a Werewolf called Richard, a Bounty Hunter called Death - and a Promise is a Promise! Deputy Numb Nuts :)
My third outing into the Fantasy Vampire Slaying Realms of Anita Blake, comes with both some draw-dropping moments, and some as-you-would-expect, white Roses from Jean-Claude:
One particular part of this Fantasy Tale, caused my draw to drop the most! It's pertaining to a particular question: how old can a Vampire be? Now, I must confess - I'd never really thought about this before ... And yet, Anita had me pondering this question (for quite some time). Whilst I won't name the Vampire here, I too, like Anita, was fooled by his Fairy Glamour! Another draw-dropping moment, was the realisation of just how - Rivers of Blood, Anita's Urban Fantasy Realm can be ... Part of this comes from the Circus of the Damned itself (a Fantasy Location) - where who can tell what's real, what's Dark Fantasy? Part of this comes from Anita's interactions, with the other Vampires within this Tale - which I feel, is mostly due, to the fact that Anita has more Master Vampires after her, than you can shake a stick at! Two of these (Master Vampires) want her Love (or maybe just her Body?). Two of these want her as a Human Servant (but she can only serve one Master). And Anita is, no one's Human Servant - as she carries more Knives, and Guns, plus Crosses, to drive that point home. I guess I was just struck (or is that staked?), by the brutality of some of the Vampires (within this tale) - which at the same time, also contrasts well, with the fact that at least one, likes to wear a Suit and Tie ... Mixed in with this, is the fact that Anita is still on retainer, to the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team (aka the Spook Squad) - which for me, takes more of a back seat, in the second half of this novel. Despite this, there was still one draw-dropping moment: when I was in awe of an Animalistic Vampire, that had managed to tear through a five feet thick silver door, that was also adorned with crosses - as it raised a question ... How could any human stand against such power? Well ... Anita's not entirely human herself any more, which is probably just-as-well, as a Lamia (a Mythical Creature that can turn from a human into a snake), has set her eyes on her! In any case, I found myself laughing, at the character of Anita's friend - Edward. In one chapter, Edward considers torturing Anita, to get the name of the Master of the City from her - whilst in another chapter, is Edward at her side again, helping to bandage a wound on her back (after a Master Vampire thought he owned her). I was especially pleased, with the amount of Lore (related to Mythical Creatures), that I found within this Tale ... The first of these, was concerned with Vampires. As through this Tale, did I learn more about what it is to be a Vampire's Creature: as a Vampire has an Animal that it can call. In the case of Jean-Claude, it's Wolves (including Werewolves). In the case of another Master Vampire (the Oldest I have heard of), it's Snakes (including Lamia). Where as in the case of Anita's first Tale (Guilty Pleasures), it was Rats (including Were-Rats). Then did I learn more about Werewolf Lore - for I learned that the older a Werewolf is, the more able it is, to pass for human (when in human form), and the more likely it is (especially in my opinion), to recover from injuries, that would kill a human. For someone like Anita (a Necromancer), I enjoyed the twist that she could not tell, that Richard (her date/lover) was a Werewolf, and that she could not tell, how old the Oldest Vampire (in this tale) was, other than from a conventional source (aka a study book!). Added to this, is the fact that Anita now has an Apprentice (whether she wants one or not), who she sets about (with some persuasion), to teach her Animator skills to (aka - the ability to raise Zombies from the Grave). This in-turn, plays right into the Powers of the Vampires, where her Apprentice, soon realises just how powerful, these Master Vampires can be! In Conclusion: This Dark Fantasy Vampire Slayer Tale, is packed full of plots, and sub-plots throughout the entire novel. There's so much going on, that the book could just-as-easily have been called, Anita's in Hot Demand :) It is somewhat contradictory then, that I feel that the end of this book, was somewhat rushed ... I would have enjoyed a longer Final Fight, even if the cause of Anita's quick victory, was due to the fact that she shared Jean-Claude's/Alejandro's Vampire Strength (on account of being his/their Human Servant). In any case, Anita has one rule she still won't break - she doesn't date Dead things! And as for those white Roses? Well ... She gave them away :) And as for Richard? Well ... A Werewolf may be a Monster, but a Werewolf is still, very much alive! And after all, Anita is, and always will be - a Necromancer :)
When it comes to a Role Playing Game (RPG) that allows me to masquerade as a modern Vampire, you might just-be-able to get me to admit (with the twist of an arm), that this is indeed my favourite:
I like the fact that this game starts with the asking of a question that's on the mind of many a Vampire fan: What race of Vampire would you like to be? Whilst there is the option of answering some personality-style questions (to determine the answer), I decided to choose my characters Vampire race directly: Clan Brujah - as I liked the idea of my character being a rebel, who specialised in hand-to-hand combat, and who had some residual traits (from his human days), as a Special Forces operative! When it came to allocating my Vampires initial skills/abilities (upon the Character Sheet), I managed to get confused - as I failed to realise that I had to click the black dots/circles (to advance that particular skill/attribute to the next level). I then made another mistake - as I'd managed to select Skip Intro (which left me wondering how-on-earth my character had become a Vampire in the first place). Any way, once I made it through to the game play, I found myself getting lost again! So lost in fact, that I took a break from the game (for around six months), and it was only my desire to conquer it (that made me play it again). I am now so glad that I did, as I have experienced one of the best Quests (in a game) that I have ever played/seen: the Ocean House Hotel - which is in fact haunted! So haunted, that I found myself jumping out of my skin when: various objects were thrown at me, several doors opened by themselves and a Lady in White simply ran out in-front of my Vampire (which really made me jump!). There were also some spooky voices, and creepy Piano music, both of which, helped suggest the idea of a Poltergeist (and the thought that I wanted to play this Quest/Level several times). Unfortunately, my love of this level is matched equally by two control issues that I really don't like! The first: The elevator within Club Asylum - which has often made me feel like crying. How many times have I selected floor two only to have it open the elevator at floor one? No, no, no! The second: The constant flick between first and third person cameras. I usually play the game in third, then suddenly realise it's in first (changed by the game), then I'm having to press keyboard Z (to get back to third), then I'm having to press Z again (because I need to shoot). The camera controls in other games, just don't seem to be as annoying (as they are in this one). Despite this, the game goes a long way to making up with the way that it handles character conversations: the character (your chatting with) is usually centred on the screen, providing you with various numeric key-press options (to select your desired question/response). I like the fact that the game allows me to turn subtitles on (no more wondering what a particular character said) and that you can select/use certain seductive lines (assuming you have a high enough seduction skill/attribute). My favourite character conversations have to revolve around the two feuding sisters: Therese and Jeanette. With Jeanette being my personal favourite (as Therese tried to have my Vampire killed). Saying that, I also quite like the interactions with the character VV (as she makes me laugh!). Yet even this (conversation system) has some differences in consistency - the most noticeable being the fact that some conversations feature a high-quality (3d) character model, that's been rendered over a low-quality background texture! I have also encountered two major variations in frame-rate. The first being when my Vampire runs around outside in the rain, and the second being when my Vampire suffers a Final Death (although I suspect that both of these can be solved by dropping the particles slider-value). My second favourite Quest has to be Grout's Mansion - as it's another location that proves to be sufficiently spooky! On the Mansion side there's: Marble Floors with Grandfather Clocks, and Winding Staircases with Hidden Passages. On the game play side there's: several Puzzles (the Candlestick Holders that you have to flick in the correct order - to open Hidden Doors), numerous Ghouls (that can attack you five or six at a time - although they are also a good source of Blood) and getting lost (how many times have I seen this red/green Hall before?). Yet the Mansion does not want to let you go, as there's also: fun with electricity (until you notice the switches and learn how to crouch) and fun with fire (perhaps a Vampires worst enemy) - as you struggle to find your way out! Another part of the game that I really like is it's ability to surprise you - especially in terms of it's Characters. First: there is the Doom Sayer - a Female Fire Brandishing Zealot who appears when your taking a quick stroll down an alley in Santa Monica (not hard to kill, but try doing it without attracting the authorities!). Second: there is the Character called Chastity - a Female Vampire Hunter who caused my Vampire lots of grief (ironically, after I had spent a fair amount of time within the Character Sheet, spending Experience Points, ensuring that I had matched levels of Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Brawl and Dodge - all of which, made no difference at all, as she was still hard to kill!). Third: there is the Character called Vick - a Gun Totting Bishop who really did test my patience! The fact that my Vampire had a lower humanity level (too much feeding on passer-bys) meant that he constantly wanted to Frenzy (meaning I kept loosing control of my Vampire, whilst the Bishop Vick fired another volley!). It felt great when I finally managed to dispatch Vick (to read his own Sermon!). Overall: this is a game that has caused me to experience both amazement and frustration. The amazement stems from it's fantasy locations (some are very pretty with great story-lines), together with it's variety of supernatural beings (some have personalities that just seem to engage you). The frustration stems from certain elements of it's control system (the first/third person camera battle mixed with elevator fun), together with the feeling that I kept getting lost (where to next? - my Quest Log seems to have much more in it, than I've solved!). When the amazement and frustration are taken together - you end up with a game that has you wanting to replay certain levels, whilst Hammering a Stake into others!
When it comes to a Role Playing Game (RPG) that allows me to masquerade as a Vampire, I'd be hard-pressed to name one better than this:
I like the fact that this game starts with a twist - as it's a while before you become a Vampire! The games storyline sees you take control of the character Christof, a Medieval Holy Knight, whose been injured on the battlefield (by an enemy arrow). Almost mortally wounded, it's only with the caring of the Nun Anezka, that Christof eventually recovers. Yet in doing so, Christof falls for Anezka, and the games storyline gains an important sub-plot: a wound for which there is often no cure - the Power of Love! I like the fact that this game strives to contrast the differences between Christof as a Human, and Christof as a Vampire, yet at the same time - it also fights to highlight the similarities! Whilst Christof is still Human, you undertake a Quest within the Bonn Silver Mines - to rid them of whatever Evil lies within. It is hear that you learn the basics of control: left-click to attack an enemy, left-click plus hold to powerfully attack an enemy. It is here that I first appreciated the quality of the graphics: as various flames/torches light your way, whilst leaving the shadows to themselves. It is also here that you shall encounter your first challenges: Just how do I drain the water from the Crossing? Just how do I kill the War Ghoul? And just how do I kill the first Vampire Boss? The answer to all three is essentially the same: left-click, left-click, left-click! Yet, as Christof is a character of strong Faith, perhaps some Holy Water shall save the day? The games storyline then gains another important sub-plot: as Christof fights to retain his Soul. His Desire for Anezka places it in Peril, yet it is the attentions of a Vampire that truly tests his Character ... I was excited when Christof becomes a Vampire - as this is when the game comes truly alive! I'm also a fan of the Vampire Mythology that's found within this game. First: there is the fact that there are several races of Vampire (such as Cappadocian, Gangrel and Nosferatu - each with their own particular traits, skills and appearance). Second: there is the idea that Vampires have their own beliefs and traditions (Christof is recruited by the Philosophers of Caine - the Brujah, whose primary aim is the collection of Knowledge). Third: there is the concept of Vampire Lore (that the Brujah only take from Humans the Blood that they actually need - not a drop more). Fourth: there is the suggestion that not all Vampires are the same (that the Brujah actually see themselves as Guardians of Humanity, and as such, are less interested in the Blood Lust that's often associated with Creatures of the Night). I was impressed by the games use of animation and narration to highlight several of these ideas (especially the part where Christof views the Scrolling Tapestry). Playing as a Vampire is much more exciting than playing as a Human! There's plenty to learn (as a Vampire) - and you shall earn your Fangs (so to speak) at Petrin Hill Monastery. Lesson One: Looks can be Deceptive - as the Monastery looks all Quite and Peaceful, yet open that Wooden Door, and you shall soon have plenty of opponents to fight - as there's Vampires and Skeletons (usually armed with Swords and Arrows). Lesson Two: Vampires require Blood. When Christof (and his friend Wilhelm) become low on Blood, they shall start to Rampage (possibly even feeding off each other). To counteract this - you need to learn the Art of Feeding! There's plenty of Monks around the Monastery for you to feed on (and slaying an enemy this way does not affect your Humanity levels - which comes in handy). Lesson Three: Sometimes the ability to fight is not enough - you have to use your brain as well, together with switches and keys. Many an Evening did I fight Mercuio (the Vampire Boss of the Monastery), and many an Evening did both Christof and Wilhelm die (to his Green Gas). Yet it was, when searching around, did I find my first special weapon: a Femur (bone) that introduces Mercuio to the Grave! The games more than just about fighting though. One part I really like is managing the equipment that my Vampires wear. Once you've found enough Gold/Jewellery/Jewels, I like to equip my Vampires (via the Blacksmith) with: Studded Leather Armour, Gauntlets and a Light Helm - which helps improve their combat/defence capabilities. Another part I really like is the Character Advancement screen: with each Quest you complete, you earn Experience Points, which you spend to make your Vampires stronger. When I have enough points, I like to increase (in this order): Strength, Dexterity and Stamina (as I feel that these help to establish the central core of my Vampires abilities). When it comes to Spells and Magic, it's a must to upgrade Blood Healing (as it quickly heals your Vampires, usually for less blood), and in the case of Wilhelm, his Feral Claws (a favourite of mine - as he's often at the fore-front of an assault). I also like to equip each of my characters with: two Scrolls of Awaken (so that they may wake fallen comrades) and a Scroll of Walk the Abyss (so that a doorway can be opened between the current Quest and your safe haven - a great way to save travel time, which also allows you stock up on valuable supplies!). Overall: I have spent many an evening playing this game! I found that I became fully immersed in the storyline (especially with the twists regarding Faith, Love and Souls). Yes, there are some frustrations (such as when you accidentally tell Christof to feed off Wilhelm), but there's also a great amount of fun (such as when you destroy the rampaging Golem). I was stunned by the beauty of many scenes (especially those that reflect a decorated ceiling of a Castle/Palace unto the floor). The most draw-dropping part of the storyline (for me), was when the Time-line changed (as I wanted to remain in the Medieval), and felt totally lost (at first) running around in the Modern Age. Even so, this is still my favourite Vampire game to play!