The new era
in gaming has brought along some innovative titles.
Xbox 360 owners can transform their elf princess
into various creatures, gun down endless waves of
enemies as a red haired heroin, and even control
the mighty king of the jungle. One inspiring game,
entitled Condemned: Criminal Origins, puts gamers
in the shoes of Agent Ethan Thomas throughout his
struggles with serial killers and even fellow FBI
agents. Condemned delivers a freakishly horrifying
experience that shouldn’t be missed.
this all about?
is a first person horror shooter set in an urban
city. From the start, we’re introduced to
our beloved FBI agent on a seemingly routine assignment.
Unfortunately for him, a crafty murderer manages
to turn everyone against Thomas so he needs to clear
his name. Thomas will travel through the downright
ugliest parts of the city as he mercilessly beats
down drug addicts and crazed civilians. With only
a trusty lab analyst to help him interpret data,
you need to overcome the grimiest of situations
in order to solve this horrific mystery.
obvious that gamers should expect some impressive
visuals and a decent audible performance, Condemned
does an absolutely extraordinary job at delivering
a spine tingling aroma. The developers went a step
beyond the typical first person view by making it
feel like you’re actually the detective. Every
time you open a door, swing your weapon, or just
decide to sprint the screen will shake accordingly.
In addition, the screen becomes encompassed in an
aura of blood once you get struck with a weapon.
Little details, such as flies buzzing above rotting
corpses and post-death ragdoll effects, also create
an added sense of realism. As expected, the character
models are highly detailed and plenty of emphasis
has been put onto body parts. Occasionally there
are a few jagged edges and minor graphical glitches,
but these quirks aren’t devastating by any
are the visuals up to par by today’s standards,
but the vivid audile performance is truly needed
to bring out the full horror effect. The game makes
the environments seem like they’re actually
alive; leaking pipes with drip with water as rats
scurry off into dark corners. Background music is
used sharply at certain times to create a quick
shock effect; while other times the only noise that
will accompany you are your footsteps. The voice
actors did a great job as well, and it can be very
intimidating to hear an enemy scream curses at you
but is then nowhere to be found. Often, small whispers
and footsteps are played lightly just to keep you
on your toes, but other times someone may slowly
be creeping up behind you. In the end, a bone chilling
product is created that can really make you scared
to continue on with your adventure, making Condemned
all the more enjoyable.
other detective, Agent Thomas needs to analyze crime
scenes in order to find out if he’s on the
right trail or not. A variety of forensic tools
are available to him, allowing him to track odors,
test blood samples, and take hi-res photographs
of the scene. Thomas has a knack for his line of
work, so the game always tells you when you need
to investigate and it even prepares the right tools.
Still, you need to scrutinize every last nook and
cranny until you find a piece of glowing evidence
that will lead you on your way. An Xbox Live Achievement
can be earned for collecting every piece of data,
so make sure you don’t overlook anything.
to parts of the crime scene, there are also hidden
metal pieces and dead birds that can be used to
unlock special concept art, movies, and information
about the storyline. While it is possible to complete
the entire game without finding either of these,
it’s much more rewarding if you can truly
appreciate this game’s story. Some dead birds
can be scouted out by using an odor detector, but
the only way to find metal pieces is by searching
on your own.
Ready for a Beating!
system in Condemned is different from most other
games, partially because of the available weaponry.
Most of the fighting relies on melee combat with
weapons that can be picked up anywhere throughout
the world, including 2 by 4’s, pipes, paper
cutters, mannequin arms, locker doors, and pretty
much anything else that you see. Weapons are rated
based on their speed, damage, ability to block,
and reach. Every time you find something else to
pickup, a box will come up that compares it to your
current item, making it a relatively easy decision
if you want to exchange. A few guns can also be
picked up along the way, but due to their limited
ammunition supply most of your time will be spent
bashing people to death.
themselves are fast paced and require a lot of finesse
if want to remain unscathed. By default, the right
trigger will swing the item in hand while the left
trigger will block incoming acts. If you block just
before the enemy makes contact, they become extremely
vulnerable for a few seconds. However, if you block
too early you leave yourself wide open and susceptible
to a barrage of hits. In addition, enemies can be
stunned for several seconds with a Taser, and you
can even follow up attacks with a quick kick sometimes.
If you knock someone on the ground and make them
rest on their knees in a trance, one of four grotesque
finishing moves can be laid down.
AI is highly sophisticated, especially on the higher
difficulties, which helps make the experience scarier
as a whole. Some of the addicts you face can take
cover and be silent for a few seconds, and all of
a sudden they will rush out and attempt to get a
few quick hits before you even know what happened.
They act in an overall violent matter, and when
big riots burst out they can even start to attack
each other! Sometimes it’s a good idea to
hang back and watch them pound each other mercilessly,
and when things begin to die down you can swoop
in and finish the rest.
certain plenty of fun to be had knocking people
out, but a lot of the entertainment comes from simply
exploring new areas. With only a meager flashlight
to venture into dark hallways and the like, it’s
hard not to get frightened at every little thing
that moves. If you walk in front of a light source
in just the right way a huge shadow will fly up
on the screen, which can be extremely scary after
hearing a few enemies lurk off. Whether a certain
area seems too quiet or if a zombie like creature
comes launching at you from a locker, plenty of
different scare tactics are implemented in Condemned
so there’s never a dull moment.
Second Time Through?
the first time will provide roughly 10 hours of
gaming depending on what difficulty you choose,
but once the entire game is done there isn’t
too much incentive to go back and play. Unless you’re
a diehard fan who needs to go back and find every
last bird and metal piece the adventure isn’t
all that great after you know all of the hidden
surprises. Checkpoints are setup frequently, and
if you die right before you reach the next benchmark
its simple to fly through that whole area with ease,
so imagine how dull it can be to go through the
whole game again. Most of the adventure relies too
much on triggered events, and the lack of any multiplayer
component really makes it a turn off. Still, if
you’re just looking from straightforward melee
combat and don’t care about being fed the
same story over again, it’s still possible
to enjoy Condemned several times over.
At the heart
of Condemned lies a solid storyline with an in-depth
combat system and a haunting atmosphere, but there
isn’t enough variety to keep gamers coming
back for more. Still, playing the campaign the first
time through is an absolutely bone chilling experience
that makes this game easily worth a rent, if not