I have to say that BloodNet shares some features with my favourite game of them all. Granted, it’s not on the same level of greatness – not at all, in fact – but maybe the similarities are part of the reason I’m enjoying this game so much. Or perhaps it will become a lot worse towards the end. I’ll save my judgment for later lest I'll have to swallow my words.
Last time a woman named Lenora Major had invited me to her well in the cyberspace to upload my essence into the web. This seemed necessary to enter the headquarters of TransTech so it felt like a good move. I got caught by a Security ICE routine a couple more times and didn’t find out anything new about the web for now so I followed up on some other leads.
First I decided to pay a visit to that bigmouth called Zeus who had challenged me to a duel in real life. After our cyber-standoff a new location was accessible, namely a NYU dormitory close to Washington Square. What happened next was a bit of a surprise.
It’s a girl!
“Zeus” was actually a girl called Paula DiMigglio. Broke as she was Paula figured that if she couldn’t get my attention by offering me money she might get it by bragging loudly on the net. “Primitive, yes, but it works on your type of guy,” says Paula, and who is Ransom to disagree?
Paula needs my help rescuing a good friend of hers called Banks Verbatim. Banks screwed over the Company by finding out about one of its darkest secrets, the design of cyberspace itself. Then he got reckless and they imprisoned him in some data cage that slowly sucked the cyber-life from his avatar while his real-world body was out there rotting away somewhere waiting to be reunited with his personality. She tells me that Banks is located at a cyberaddress called “softball” with the entry code being “ninja.”
The wizard of Cyber-OZ.
I decided to check up on Banks Verbatim right away and found him inside a dangerous looking cage. Banks was unable to talk straight and kept repeating the words “Helpmeyoumusthelpmereleasesomebodyweakc” before Ransom told him to slow down. The guy’s avatar confirmed that his body couldn’t sustain itself much longer, and his soul box matrix was decaying. Apparently this is a particularly gruesome way to die and Banks still couldn’t believe that the Company would actually do that on purpose. He told me to fetch a key from the Company’s headquarters or one of their wells because he probably wouldn’t survive this torment for more than another day so this quest was quite possibly a timed one.
Next I followed some minor leads that got me nowhere in particular. Then I remembered to check out Deirdre’s acquaintance Dr. Ludwig Sampson. I had learned about him from the journal I’d retrieved from Deirdre’s well. The guy sure sounded like he would be a valuable ally but it turned out to be nothing like that. At first Sampson didn’t trust me because I was a vampire. After we exchanged some words, though, he told me about his well called “Zarathustra” where I would find a document detailing the means necessary for reversing my condition. He even offered me a simple deck to jack in with at his place but that actually made me suspicious. I left his apartment and jacked in at Deirdre’s lab. It just felt safer to me.
“I have two not really pleasant news for you. I have been monitoring
your internet activities for some time by now.”
It was no use. One of Sampson’s viruses (or something) attacked me upon entering his well, and when I left the web and confronted him about it he revealed that Van Helsing had got to him already. He immediately attacked me and somehow the six of us were unable to take him down without substantial losses of life. I later found out that I had expected my recruits to have their weapons equipped from the get-go but that was not the case. We allowed Sampson to bring a pair of fangs to a fistfight.
For the time being I decided to restore and get back to the fight later. I now realise that I had forgotten all about it until now and should really bring Sampson down first thing next time.
In the event of a fight the game tells you minutely what's happening with everybody’s stats.
Not sure what I should do next I headed back out to Central Park. This time Mother Mary was hanging out on the second screen but she recognised that I was a (good-natured) vampire right away and told me to come see her in the rear of her church. Because my bloodlust became a serious problem around that time and I didn’t want to bite Mother Mary I decided to take Sabaccatus St. Aubens up on his offer and kill Marcus Piston instead. Sabaccatus is the leader of a gang called the Autonomy Dogs. He’s a former member of something called the Purity Council which appears to be just as fascist as it sounds. Sabaccatus objects to all technical augmentations of the human body which is why the members of the Hard Metals are sort of his natural enemies. Marcus Piston is the leader of the Hard Metals and Sabaccatus told me that in his eyes he was “hardly a man, he has so much machinery embedded in him.” Killing him would be like “unplugging an appliance.” I did just that and my humanity didn’t go down as much as when I bit one of the people hanging out in Central Park. When I killed him and went back to the Autonomy Dogs, Sabaccatus gave me only half the money he’d offered me for the hit (which was still 20.000 dollars) and then his whole gang attacked me. That was not the only reason I restored right away. I felt it was a bad roleplaying decision to kill a reasonably friendly man in cold blood and get paid by a lowdown fascist for it. Instead I returned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and bit another toffee-nosed decadent upper-class person.
After that a timed event set in. Remember the guy called Shock Maraud who was hanging out at Strawberry Fields? He had asked me to get him some dbase before Van Helsing brought it to him. Also he confided in me that Van Helsing wanted him to kill somebody but he wouldn’t learn the person’s name until later. Unsurprisingly, that person was me. Two of Shock’s goons followed me wherever I went, that is to say that I was henceforth unable to enter any location at all without being forced into combat with them.
Nothing like a brisk evening brawl in the tube.
I decided to give it a whirl and realised immediately why I had failed so miserably in all of my fighting endeavours so far. Imagine the width of my facepalm when I hung my head in shame and equipped my party with armor and weapons before taking down the goons in a matter of seconds. Positioning my party in an efficient way seems vital but other than that you can choose between issuing commands every round (including biting the enemy with Ransom which seldom works) or letting the computer do its thing by clicking on “quick combat.” I tried it both ways for a number of times to get the hang of it and decided in the end that the quick combat option was efficient enough for the moment. After winning a fight there’s a loot screen and you are prompted to choose which dropped items you want to add to your party’s inventory. Shock Maraud’s two goons were carrying a lot of stuff and my inventory was already quite full as it was so I only picked up a couple of sawed off shotguns and left behind most of the grenades and drugs.
Now you remember that last time I downloaded the spirit of “Elvis” who was doomed to haunt the cyberspace forever lest somebody give him a new body. That somebody ought to be me. I tried to buy cyborg parts, take them to the cybersurgery group, show them to Hakim at the Houston Matrix Rovers because he told me his current job was to retrieve missing relatives from the web but none of it worked. I still haven’t made any progress with this one. I hope it’s only a side quest.
And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me...
When I went back to St. Patrick’s Mother Mary was there waiting for me. Ransom asked her for an exorcism but she wouldn’t have any of it. In fact she told me she needed my help because somebody working for TransTechnicals wanted to close St. Patrick’s forever. She also told me his name: William Dougan, assistant to Walter McCalaster. Mother Mary also suggested I could perhaps learn something from investigating him which sounded suspiciously like a hint. She also implied that she would be able to follow me around through the city once her church was safe. Will Mother Mary join my party at some point? That’s interesting! One of the stats in this game is called “faith”. I had already surmised that this may be necessary to go vampire-hunting. My fundamentalist party member Max Bax has a pretty high “faith” stat. Possibly Mother Mary’s would be even higher.
From the church I went straight to the Hellfire Club. It just seemed appropriate. Inside the club (which was actually a hotel) there were a lot of people I was able to converse with. Also, the club had four locations I could explore. One of the was the Inner Sanctum and some people told me I might need a special membership needle to enter there. Most of the people partying in the Outer Sanctum were quite wacky, too. There was a journalist on the lookout for vampires, a young woman who was being manipulated by both of her lovers and on the verge of losing her marbles, a kid called Renfield who recognised me as a vampire and offered to serve me (he also told me his address hoping I’d drop by later), and a pronounced enemy of Van Helsing’s called George Yatchisin which, in this world, doesn’t make him my friend. I sold a 9mm pistol to a woman who was seeking revenge on her unfaithful husband and finally bit one of the aforementioned two lovers of the young woman in order to help her make a decision. It didn’t change anything, Ransom just routinely disposed of his body like he always does.
My sense of humanity has gone down the drain.
In the third room I happened upon one Walter McCalaster. That is one of the names which Mother Mary mentioned to me. I didn’t get anywhere with him because he didn’t like my attitude and ordered me to leave. The most important thing is that I got a TT badge from George Yatchisin meaning I was finally able to enter TransTechnicals headquarters.
Upon entering the headquarters proper I was presented with a menu of five options, each leading to a different room. The first one was simply called “Security” and led to the office of the director of security. I remember that one of the hundreds of gang members in the game wanted me to take him down in order to gain his trust but I didn’t write down who it was. When I tried to talked to him he immediately attacked me anyway so we gunned him down in cold blood and took all of his stuff, some interesting data among it, like a Cybercrackdown List naming the 10 Most Wanted for cybercrimes against the Company: Deirdre Tackett, Hakim Maghsoudi, Garrick Fizz, Ransom Stark, Lenora Major, Sis Konfigg, Lazlo Greene, Charley Flyer, the cyberidentities “Zeus” and “Elvis”. Hey, I’ve met all of them except Lazlo Greene. Seems like I’ve been keeping good company. I also picked up a better decking unit and a dragon soul box as well as a backup file of Deirdre’s cyberspace identity. That may be important later on as well.
The second room was simply named “Emily Esaki”, and surely enough it was Emily Esaki’s office. She was quite busy and didn’t have time to talk to me at length. Searching the office revealed an object, though, and it turned out to be a lapel pin enabling me to enter the Inner Sanctum of the Hellfire Club. Sweet!
In the third room I paid a visit to Bill Dougan who claimed innocence regarding the Company’s recent attacks on the church. He said that was all McCalaster and it seemed plausible to me because he had been acting quite like a knob over at the Hellfire Club. Dougan told me to get some evidence of one of McCalaster’s extramarital affairs. What do I need to spy on him?
Lastly, there was a Nanotech lab where I was able to pick up a lot of items. If the party was so far unnecessary for combat I was really beginning to need it for inventory space at this point. There was also a locked door ostensibly leading to more stuff in the Nanotech lab. I’ll have to find a way to get in there.
That was all that I was able to do at TT headquarters for the moment. I paid a visit to Renfield just for the sake of it and the guy told me to bring a coffin to his place, filled with my native soil. Now I found some soil when I searched Central Park but where would I get a coffin? Renfield also asked me to bite him but I declined. There are enough vampires in this gameworld as it is.
My next new location was Lazlo Greene’s appartment. Lazlo was quite paranoid at first but I quickly gained his trust by giving him an insulation suit. He then told me how TransTechnicals retrieved all of the “remnants of deckers past” from the cyberspace in order to build a race of superhumans. Finally Lazlo told me to destroy the Morph Spawner program that permits the absorption of the skills of the cyberlost because only that would stop the Company. He even told me the address (“blackwood”) but refused go there himself.
After a while I was apprehended by more of Shock Maraud’s goons. Will I have to take on the whole gang at some point? Is there a way to avoid this? I won another fight but lost two of my party members – Garrick and Rymma. For now I’ll carry on like this but I may elect to restart the game yet another time if it turns out to be to my disadvantage.
Finally I did something I’d been wanting to try out for a long time. Remember how the leader of the Kafka Conspiracy told me to retrieve a transmitter from the Icon Robbers? Well, seeing as I got a gas mask and a can of “SomnaVapor” at some point the solution seemed pretty obvious. It was sufficient that Ransom wore a gas mask, too, so I mercifully didn’t have to find one for each of the party members. Sometimes realism breaks games, you know. The Icon Robbers duly fell asleep following my SomnaVapor attack and I was now able to search the room and steal the multichannel transmitter.
Cyberpunk Sleep Spell
When I took the transmitter back to Coover Tristan, leader of the Kafka Conspiracy, his reaction was rather surprising. He let me keep the transmitter and join my party. At this point I decided to take a break and make a list of open tasks:
* Read Gerry Soo’s note.
* Check out if there is a well called “noun”.
* Find a way to not look like a vampire when entering the Cloisters and/or the Trinity Church Cemetery.
* Kill Ludwig Sampson and search his well.
* Kill Shock Maraud or get his dbase first.
* Investigate McCalaster and gather evidence of his extramarital affair(s).
* Enter the Inner Sanctum of the Hellfire Club.
* Find a way to download “Elvis” into a body of sorts.
* Find a way to open the locked door in the Nanotech lab.
* Find out about “jury rigging”.
Just reading this makes me want to get back to the game as soon as possible.
Don't forget to check out the CRPG Addict's latest posts on BloodNet, too! I'm avoiding them for the time being because they may contain spoilers but I'll be sure to get caught up after my next session.
Stop rattling your text box, berk.
Session time: 4 hours
Total time: 7 hours 30 minutes