Review by KeynoteImpaler
"Condemned 2: Bigger. Badder, Bloodshot"
The original Condemned game, Criminal Origins, is a smart and enjoyable first-person survival-horror game for the 360 and its unique additions to the same old horror formula made for a great experience. Bloodshot is the anticipated sequel that continues where the first game left off. In many ways it succeeds in improving the series, but it does a small flaw or two.
Story - 8/10
Set one year after Criminal Origins, our hero, ex-SCU agent Ethan Thomas has fallen far from grace. Angry, disheveled and more often than not, drunk., he has basically hit bottom. When Malcom Vanhorn leaves a strange message on agent Rosa's phone, SCU agents reach out to the disgruntled former agent in an attempt to find out what happened to Vanhorn. Meanwhile, the city is being overrun by the influenced.
As the story progresses, it helps shed light on many of the confusing elements that were never fully explained in the first game. It doesn't fill in all of the gaps but it helps out a lot. The story itself is interesting, but more strange than scary and not terribly original.
The focus is still on brutal, bone-crushing melee combat, and in that regard the already enjoyable combat has been improved. More weapons can be pulled from the environment, including toilet seats. gum ball machines, and the old staples such as two by fours and lead pipes. Blocking has been improved, fist-fighting has been beefed up, combo attacks have been added, and the four killing moves used when you knocked an opponent to his knees in the first game are replaced by many varied and brutal environmental kill points in each level.
Firearms are more plentiful and and can be now be aimed using a the metal sighting system, or scope on each weapon. As an added twist, players will need to contend with Ethan's detox shakes that mess up his precise aiming. Drinking small amounts to calm his nerves will temporarily steady his aim.
Enemies are more varied, and include dolls, bum, addicts, tar creatures, and others. The AI is once again well done and improved over the original. The battles are intense and very violent and the influenced will use surprise and other tactics to their advantage. Many of the greatest thrills in the game come from the combat.
The investigation aspect of the first game has been tweaked somewhat and seems to be a more realistic and better fit. Besides your trusty camera, you'll use a UV light to track and examine blood spatter, and your spectrometer to find items used to control the influenced. Rather than having to scan for a light spot on a body to determine cause of death and other things, you now examine the body with your own eye and search for the evidence yourself. Was the victim shot, stabbed, beaten? Look closely and select the best option. Bonus points are rewarded for accurate investigating.
Good investigating and other factors unlock upgrades at the end of each level that allow you to do more actions, like sneaking, or holster items, like a pistol.
On a side note, this game is not for the queasy and easily scared. Combat is brutal and vicious, the execution moves are bloody and at times extremely messy. If you are easily disturbed or the first games violence was hard to stomach then be warned that this is even more startling. Also some of the victims insides are pretty realistically rendered and strewn about.
The graphics in Bloodshot are beautifully rendered and at times utterly grotesque. The environments are varied and each one has great attention to detail. Enemies are well animated and look crazy, weird, or just plain nasty. Hard hits are reflected on opponents bodies. Special effects can get overwhelming at times but are well done nonetheless. Oh, and there is a lot of blood.
The voice acting is great and includes a few recognisable voice actors, although the main characters do not have the same voice actors as found in the previous work. Sounds are used to enhance the scares and really improve the game.
Scary? Yes and No 8/10
The combat is intense and their are a few really good scares, but of course some people won't be scared. Overall though, it is the scariest game out their for 2008 so far and may hold that crown for awhile.
Final Word 9/10
If you liked Criminal Origins then you need to play this game. Pure and simple. If you're new to the series, are a fan of melee combat, or you just like survival horror, there isn't a better way to get started.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/09/08
Game Release: Condemned 2: Bloodshot (US, 03/11/08)
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