Review by bbears
"More Fun Than You Can Shake A Stick At"
INTRO: The most curious thing about the Xbox 360 launch is the lack of original titles. Only two games are not ports, sequels, or movie tie ins. Condemned: Criminal Origins is one of these two games, and it is a very good one at that. At first Condemned got mixed recognition which is why my initial desire to purchase this game dissolved away. But when I made my second round of game purchases for the 360 I decided that Condemned was worth a shot, and I'm very glad I did. Condemned gives us a very original and intense FPS experience.
GRAPHICS: The first thing you will notice about Condemned is that it is a very dark game. In fact the game is virtually impossible to play in the light. If you do try this then you will surely be blinded by the glare. Having said that the game looks very good though. With the exception of the flashlight all of the lighting effects look top notch. The game has an unbelievable amount of character and presentation to wow you with. All of the environments, character models, animations have a very high resolution and tons of detail. My only beef here is that the enemy models are not varied and the environments can feel repetitive at times.
SOUND: The sound of Condemned absolutely makes the game. All of the sound effects are truly amazing in quality. Beating someone's face in with a crowbar sounds just as you would expect it to. Ripping a pipe off the wall and every other action has an immaculate sound representation. The best part is that you can hear the crazies chasing after you long before you see them. This is actually very useful considering the game is so dark and the enemies come out of seemingly no where. The voice acting is some of the best ever offered on any game ever. This makes the tension truly thick throughout the game.
CONTROLS: If one area fails in this game, then the controls is the closest. When engaged in combat it is easy to become disoriented. Also blocking seems unescesarily difficult. Besides those complaints the most obvious nuisance is the extreme sensitivity of the context actions. Trying to pick up a health pack can become a small frustration. The sprint button is also positioned weird. You must hold down the left joystick and push it forward at the same time. Not the most efficient of actions. Other than these problems controlling your character is easy to do.
REPLAY: Condemned is a 8 to 10 hour game. Which is kinda short for the typical game now days. On top of that Condemned offers no multiplayer or any real incentive to play through a full second time. The only real unlockables are the police reports. You get these by finding ceratin secrets in the game, they add moderately to the games plot. Other than that only art can be unlocked.
STORY: One of the most clever and suspenseful stories of any video game. I really liked the plot and the story is the principal driving force of the game. The basic outline of the story is that you're a cop and serial killer has stole your gun and killed two other officers. I can't give away much else without revealing spoilers but will say that is does take some supernatural twists. Unfortunately the story does become a tad confusing and leaves you with an unsatisfying ending too.
GAMEPLAY: You play the game through a first person perspective but unlike a traditional FPS guns are few and far between. Most of the action is done with melee weapons such as pipes, axes, and wood planks. Different weapons have different stats, such as speed and damage, some are even used as tools for interaction with your environment. If you do find a firearm then at best you have enough bullets in it to kill 1 to 3 enemies. This really drives up the suspense of the game. At first it does sound repetitive to beat someone over and over again with the same basic attacks, but the suspense really makes the game and never makes it feel old. Besides the action there are very linear forensics tools to use. They can only be brought up by script and except for one level all of the clues can be found in a VERY linear fashion that leaves you asking for lots more.
BOTTOM LINE: If you are looking for an original mature experience for the 360 then Condemned is best there is to offer at the moment. And if you do like mature games then Condemned deserves at least a rental. Plus what other game can you beat a crazed obese lunch lady to death with a pipe?
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/03/06
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