Review by trebbag

"The "Thrills" and Chills of Condemned: Criminal Origins"

CONDEMNED: CRIMINAL ORIGINS

INTRODUCTION
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This was one of the two games that I bought without researching a lot about them. Normally I wait and see before I go and blow 50 dollars and now 60 dollars. I can not say so much for the other game, but I don't think I could have ever made a better decision when buying Condemned. While some of what I say will sound like I am bashing Condemned, I really find this to be one of the best games I have played in a long time. It isn't the usual get-to-the-end-of-the-tunnel-while-killing-every-single-living-thing-so-that-a-plot-twist-will-happen-that-will-open-a-new-tunnel. This game has you discovering things with forensic tools and chasing after enemies. It has gone beyond the usual Resident Evil 4 approach to the horror genre.

GRAPHICS 9/10
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The graphics are amazing. Your character is submersed into a world where every turn leads him into another dark and dilapidated room or hallway. The only escape from the dirty, dark, and creepy setting is when you turn the game off. The dark lighting with the low illumination of your flashlight adds further to the setting. Clues of people hiding behind a pillar are seen in the edge of a 2 x 4 sticking out from the edge or maybe the light shadow etched along the ground. The characters look extremely realistic and so do the enemies. Without the usual alien, this horror game takes a painful uncommon twist to realistic horror for the most part. I believe that this makes it all the more scary because it is easy to find a made up boogeyman laughable, but it is another story when a blood crazed drug addict/murderer appears behind you and swings his fire axe at your head. The realistic graphics, lighting, and the setting set you up for most of the scary events. You would not be scared if a man was chasing you in a clean room with lots of light and people.

STORY 8/10
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Condemned tells the story of Ethan Thomas that is accused of killing 2 cops. This accusation has him running from the cops while he chases down a brutal serial killer. This part is excellently developed and you keep one step behind the killer with the help of forensic tools and your friend Rosa. Mysterious things begin to happen and then you have a kind of supernatural side of the story. This side is confusing and in the end I was left clueless to the meaning of it. But, other than that slight touch, the story is cleverly designed. I felt the story line had some similarities to Indigo Prophecy, but where in Indigo Prophecy the supernatural was explained; in Condemned they are lost to the imagination. In my opinion, the story does not give enough information to figure anything out using your imagination.

GENRE 10/10
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This section is for how close Condemned stuck to its Horror genre. This game is the scariest game that I have ever played. Games like Resident Evil and House of the Dead are for toddlers compared to this. I think that the game can get too repetitive with the constant fighting, so I played one level a night. This works. The repetition makes the enemies less scary and more of “just another enemy.” Of course it is even scarier if you play in the middle of the night with the lights off, but you want to make sure that you won't wake anyone up if you “scream” too loud…. Of course, in the terms of “scary,” things pop up unexpectedly and cause you to jump. It is scary in that respect, but don't think that you will have nightmares from the overall story/plot. One of the greatest features of the game is that you can find weapon within the environment. A random pipe on the wall can be yanked off and used to club the enemies. You can even use a gun that is out of ammo as a melee weapon, but be careful because the butt-end of these guns can break after a few blows.

CONTROLS 9/10
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The controls are good, but they do seem to be pretty simple. There is nothing bad about it, but they seem simple. Other than that, they are pretty fluid movements and I haven't run into any problems with the controls.

WEAPONS 10/10
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One of the greatest features of the game is that you can find weapon within the environment. A random pipe on the wall can be yanked off and used to club the enemies. You can even use a gun that is out of ammo as a melee weapon, but be careful because the butt-end of these guns can break after a few blows. Another good feature is that a gun found in this game does not have a lot of ammo, which is more realistic. In other games you can walk through a level killing all the enemies with the same shotgun you had in the beginning. A great “weapon” to use is the taser gun. This will temporarily put a hold on the enemy giving you a few valuable seconds to get a better shot/hit on him or to get away.

XBOX LIVE/REPLAY VALUE 7/10
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Well, the box is a little misleading, so I made this section. There is no multiplayer!!!! It is only Live capable for a leaderboard to see who has played the game the longest. For instance, #1 XXUSERxxNAMEXX 100:89. Pretty pathetic? Yeah, but the game is good, so you don't have to worry about it not having something else to do after you beat it. The replay value is very high. I am working on my 2nd time through and I am still scared, even knowing the whole story because again the story isn't the scary part.

OVERALL 9/10
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The game on a whole is the greatest game that has come out for the 360 so far. The replay value is pretty high, but I think that it is a pretty easy game to beat. So, I think it would be easy to rent and beat. If you like it a whole lot after you rent it, you can go buy the game you already beat….. But I think that even though it is one of the greatest games, you should be able to get a lot out of it in your 5 day rental period. I bought it and I am glad that I did because I was able to take my time through it. I could play one level a night with the lights off and in the middle of the night. Plus, I am able to go back for a second play through, which I am finding to be just as “scary”!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/28/05


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