Condemned 2



Condemned was one of the leading lights when the Xbox 360 was first released, it combined a stellar first person shooter gaming experience with a genuinely eerie and immersive atmosphere. With the release of the follow up, many people will be wondering if it still has that magical quality that made the original such a big seller.

You will not be surprised to hear that the game follows along the same path with edge of seat action and a horror style environment. Condemned 2 is a continuation of the story and picks up when our character Ethan Thomas has succumbed to living it rough. After he quit his job as a SCU agent he has resorted to drinking a lot and he is battling his inner demons. His drink problem is actually so ingrained within the game that he fails to shoot well without downing a bottle of vodka.

Ethan is an unlikely and unwilling hero, he is forced into action in Condemned 2, rather than being a willing participant. His initial search for his old buddy Van Horn starts the path down into the supernatural world. One of the main complaints about the first title was the rather open ended storyline which made many people wonder exactly what was going on. This time this problem is less apparent with a more direct and clear cut approach. The storyline now unfolds as the game progresses and should be straightforward for anyone to follow. This begs the question, "do we really need everything to be explained?", I preferred the original storyline because sections of it were left open to your imagination. Clearly the mass audience have no imagination and game developer Monolith decided it was better to not only handle the sequel in a more rigid manner but to start explaining the storyline of the first game to a certain degree. I would be honest in saying that Bloodshot was certainly much less satisfying to me on a horror level.

Nonetheless, Monolith  are a potent developer with some very creative people behind the scenes and without ruining the storyline there are many sections I still remember, long after completing the game. This is a very good sign of creative and dynamic level design. Plenty of twists and turns keep you on the edge of your seat.

The combat of the game is a strong point and has been progressed from the first title. There are many ways to attack with combos and special attacks and you can attack with your hands as well. It is fair to say this is quite an improvement from the first title. There are a plethora of weapons and you can even wield environmental objects such as bowling balls or toilet seats you find lying around.

The storyline progresses rather nicely and has some depth, much like a decent supernatural movie. Those of you who remember the first incarnation will be pleased to hear that the forensics remain and they are also updated and enhanced. This time you have to use your head a little more and you are graded on your ability to make observations, this is a great game addition and certainly pulls you deeper into the whole environment. If you do well in these investigations you can get bonus objectives which add to your overall level score. The load times however are rather slow and this will become annoying if you keep dying, clearly some more optimisation here would have helped dramatically.

The graphics are excellent with some nicely detailed textures and some very smart level design however I noticed a slight drop in frame rate from time to time. Also a few ugly glitches raise their head, such as floating objects or physics running amok. With such a detailed game pulling you into the screen these did jolt me back to reality ruining the atmosphere somewhat. Also worth mentioning is the animation, or should I say lack of animation on some of the non player characters, these range from average to poor and also lower the overall feeling of polish.

Overall, and being totally subjective, the graphics are excellent and the horrific atmosphere is just dripping from the level design, there is graffiti, bloods and fluids gloriously painted into the surfaces and it certainly made me feel uneasy, which is the whole purpose of this genre. There has been some marvellous attention to detail paid from start to finish.

The sound has not changed considerably since the original title and this is not a bad thing, the original soundtrack was a fantastic piece of work with 5:1 digital sound effects coming from all angles. Equally so, the special effects on the weapons, doors and other eerie happenings are the work of genius. This game will have you jumping for cover on more than one occasion.

The full campaign took me around 10 hours or so to complete which by today’s standards is a reasonable amount of play time, especially with such a detailed and painstakingly crafted game. Once you finish the single player campaign Monolith have added several other game options so you can continue playing. Extras such as the Bloodshot Fight Club prove a pleasant enough yet shortlived distraction. Basically the purpose is to complete a certain goal within each of these and compete with people online.

Multiplayer is catered for with support for 8 people online or via your system link cable. I am a sucker for a good multiplayer game however this one left me feeling a little cold, the deathmatch modes just don’t work that well. There is nothing particularly new in the deathmatch mode and within this specific environment it would be hard for me to recommend. One mode of note however would be the Crime Scene multiplayer mode, there are two teams in this mode, the mentally deranged psychopaths against the SCU agents. The SCU agents have to hunt down a box with a head in it while the nutcases have to keep it hidden by moving it and interferring with the SCU tracking equipment. I really do applaud them for including this mode because with a bunch of friends it is really quite enjoyable. Quite whether it will take off and be a huge online success is another question, these things are hard to predict.

Condemned 2 is a fun game which will sate the appetite of those who loved the original title, Monolith have created another quality game with much attention to detail and with a flair for creative and spooky level design. Many of the complaints from the first title have been resolved and there have been improvements in key areas to bring something new to the supernatural table. The storyline is again very engrossing and unsettling, yet under the surface there is also a supreme first person shooter. Obviously this will never be as original as the predecessor however it is still a damn fine game and one not to miss.

Gameplay
85/100

Some nice improvements and additions to an already strong game.
Graphics
83/100

Well polished and designed with artistic vision, unfortunately a few glitches and frame rate issues lower the overall score.

Sound
94/100

Amazingly spooky sound effects and a great back track, help to keep the tension high and you on the edge of your seat.

Value
80/100
The game is a decent length however there is very little to keep you coming back for more, multiplayer is quite weak.
Overall
(not an average)
85/100

A great first person shooter which is firmly focused in the supernatural genre. There are not many of these games available and this one is well worth the money.

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