Review by kiriyama2
"One of Monolith's best, and the best in the Xbox 360's launch line up"
Monolith has developed some great first person shooter games over the years. Ranging from hits like Blood to Alien vs. Predator 2 to the spectacular FEAR (far and away their greatest game). Considering how great the developers are at making games for the PC I was a tad skeptical as to how good their first (I might be wrong) console game could be. However after beating down crazed homeless I was instantly hooked.
The visual style of Condemned is a dark and moody looking affair in the style of movies like Seven or Saw (the cover art looks a lot like one of the Saw movies), and it's highly detailed in that effect. The character models are great looking and are lifelike, also unlike many first person perspective games, your character, Ethan Thomas, actually has legs that you can see. The weapons in the game look detailed and like they would in the real world. There are also the minor touches, like the fact that if you're fighting against the vagrants with a piece of wood with nails in it the game will actually show scratches from where you hit him. The environments in the game are spectacularly rendered to show the wear and decay of many urban areas. Subway stations actually look like real subway stations, and the abandoned school and department store show a great amount of decay and physical damage of places that had been in disuse for years at a time. It's also one of the only games to show first person vomit.
Sound design is also a wonderfully done part of the game. While there is very little music in the game (as far as I can tell at any rate) it does a great job of creating this thoroughly creepy and unsettling atmosphere that the game strives to make. You'll sometimes be walking through an apartment facility and you'll actually hear the grumblings of the homeless, and even on occasion hear a couple of them slugging it out. The combat sounds are almost exactly what they would sound like in the real world, not that I've ever gotten into a vicious fight with lead pipes mind you. The thwacks and smacking sounds of whatever weapon you happen to be wielding sound very realistic, especially combined with other vagrants swearing at you and trying to beat or shoot you to death. The voice acting in the game is top-notch. The voice actor who did the voice of Ethan Thomas did a really good job of making Ethan sound like a normal sort of person, and not some sort of badass FBI agent spy type, just a normal person trying to deal with the unfortunate debacle he is in. The sound design in this game was very well done; the voice acting, environmental sounds, and weapons all do a great job of adding to the ambiance of the game.
The gameplay in Condemned is basically split into two categories. The melee and gun combat, and using high tech gadgets to gather forensics evidence. The combat in this game is especially well done, each weapon has its own strength of attack, and rate at which you can swing them (the melee weapons, even though you can use the guns as melee weapons), meaning that using a lead pipe will let you get more hits in more than a sledgehammer or axe. You will often have to weigh the pros and the cons of choosing a particular weapon over another. If you want to be able to take down some homeless person with as few hits as possible you might want to go with a heavier weapon like a sledgehammer, but you might need to be able to swing your weapon more so you might want to go with a lead pipe or 2x4 with nails. There are certain weapons you might need to use to gain entry to other rooms, safes or medical cabinets (just like in Max Payne your main health item is painkillers). The game also makes you use special devices to collect evidence and find out clues to the current mystery. There's only one downside to the game. And sadly it's the game's length. You can easily beat this game over a weekend. However the game is so much fun to play you'll definitely play the game more than once.
Condemned is one of the best games available for the Xbox 360, and it is definitely one of Monolith's best games. Despite its short length Condemned is definitely worth checking out, if not buying.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/24/06
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