Condemned: Criminal Origins

I’m really excited to be writing this review, it means three things. One, I’ve got a job as a game journalist, two I get to use one of two new banners I made, and three, I get to tell ya’ll how awesome this game is. Developed by Monolith, Condemned is a first-person brawler. It’s like bar fighting except there’s hobos, and serial killers, and occasionally you’ll stop to take pictures along the way.

You play as forensics agent Ethan Thomas (which I keep thinking of as the protagonist of Heavy Rain) who gets framed for murder and now must creep through a bunch of scary locations to clear his name after a psychotic serial killer offs two police officers with Ethan Mars’s(er Thomas’s) gun. The game primarily focuses on melee combat and even includes an achievement NOT to use a gun the entire game. Sad kinda, seeing as how it implements a mechanic that would be a lot of fun in other single-player shooter games. If you press Y, Ethan will take out the current clip and look into it, monitoring how many bullets you have left. Back to melee, there are many different weapons you get to use and a helpful pop up Borderlands style compares speed, strength, and damage. For a current gen console game (albeit a very early one) the models are decidedly PS2 like, the walking speed is abysmal, and the combat is a little clunky. One thing this game does do right is atmosphere. Condemned could pretty much rival Silent Hill on this front. Creeping through a derelict school is pretty creepy when there are threatening messages on the chalk boards, and abandoned department stores filled with mannequins are just some of the locations you’re adventure is going to lead you.

One of these is going to move. The only way to tell which one, is to pull up your urine soaked pants and trudge onward.

There’s a particularly scary level near the end of the game where you get to an old orchard house occupied by your mystery serial killer know as SKX. (Serial Killer X) It’s absolutely terrifying because it’s an average house that could be anyone’s, except it’s got jump scares and I played the entire game in one sitting at night. And truly, that’s the best way to play it. Wait until it gets dark and everyone goes to sleep, and fire up a new game. The darkness practically presses on your neck as you navigate your way through insane hobo-infested buildings, worrying that at any time something is going to spawn behind you and slit your throat.

Unfortunately the sequel dials things back a bit, and takes a lot of the scare out of the game. There are still eerie parts, but it even brings you back to the school from the first game. Not to mention they updated the model and skin of Rosa so she looks nothing like herself from the first game. I wouldn’t call Condemned 2 :Bloodshot a bad game, but I would certainly say it’s disappointing. I really didn’t go as in depth in this review as I could have because I really want you guys to experience it for yourself, and there is much to be spoiled, and it’s one helluva ride.

Truly this is a game that that always does its best to scare the crap out of you, even sacrificing a canonical ending to bring you one more scare. And for that, I salute you Condemned. I didn’t like that pair of pants anyway.

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