Review by NeoWingsX

"A visceral horror experience."

Like its predecessor, Condemned 2 is not a traditional FPS in the sense most gamers are used to. Condemned retains its brutal hand to hand combat mechanic while improving on the investigation mechanic. Gunplay feels a little wonky, but still is quite functional. All in all, Condemned 2 provides a truly gruesome and brutal experience fans of the horror genre will enjoy.

Condemned 2 kicks off a year after its predecessor with Ethan Thomas sitting at a bar, drinking his sanity away. A gruesome murder has taken place, with the victim naming Ethan Thomas as the only one who can truly understand what's happening. Metro sends for Thomas, who refuses to help until a set of bizarre circumstances force him to help. Despite this, Ethan is much more focused on understanding what is happening to him than being the detective he once was.

It goes without saying that Condemned 2 is absolutely brutal, both in terms of gameplay and the settings it takes place in. The city has fallen to absolutely ****ty times, and the hordes of nut cases you beat the everliving crap out of reflect that. Thankfully for you, Ethan Thomas is not beneath a good beat down. The biggest gripe I had against the enemies you faced was the fact that you fought a lot of the same looking bums, crackheads, and rioters time and time again. Of course, it isn't much of an issue since you'll be paying more attention to the combat. To the game's credit, the enemies are well detailed and very deranged-looking. You'll be more than happy to see them a blood stained mess.

The game has brutal hand to hand combat, as each encounter feels as tense as the next. The blocking feels a bit funky, but with a little practice and timing, you'll get the hang of parrying and counter-attacking. Gunplay is available, but feels wonky. Add to that how sparse and limited they are, it becomes clear that close combat is clearly favored in this game. This normally would seem like a bad thing, but the game really shines in making you front-row-center with combat. There is no shortage of makeshift weapons. If it looks like you can beat a crackhead to death with it, you probably can. You'll always be finding environmental weapons like bricks, bottles, boards, etc. Once in a while, you'll see unique weapons like a broadsword or a lolly-pop looking saw on a stick (it makes sense in context). The fear of being defenseless is never felt. Condemned fittingly puts you in the role of a man who feels like he has nothing to really lose except missing out on happy hour at the bar. But that's not to say the game doesn't play with your mind. Ethan Thomas isn't a mentally balanced man. You'll be put into scenarios that make you question his sanity and the reality of the world your in.

Murder investigation this time around feels so much better than the first. You won't just be scanning the scene and having things told to you. In Condemned 2, you'll be asked to actually investigate each scene yourself. Each time in a murder scene, you'll be prompted with a selection of choices which best reflect what you see. How does the blood splatter reflect the mode of death? Does the wound you see show an exit wound or an entry? Does the trauma on the body provide a clear sense of how the victim was killed? You'll be aided with your handy PDA, which provides a UV sensor, a sonar detector, a digital camera, and even a handy GPS for seeing where you are. After a while, you feel like you walked into an R-rated version of CSI.

The environments in Condemned 2 are really dirty. So dirty, you'll feel like a shower is needed after playing. Some environments will appear too familiar, but with the aid of your handy GPS that feeling will be less prevalent. The tools you use will help sort out what you need and where to go. The environment is made even more tense with the cackles of stalkers or sounds coming from places that aren't really there.

New to Condemned is an online multiplayer offering, which on paper sounds fun. What's not to love about taking the hand to hand combat to your friend's face. But in practice, there is very little to offer and shouldn't be taken as a serious offering. Deathmatch is pretty much the only real viable option and unless you're new to the online gaming world, you'll spend a max of five minutes before boredom kicks in.

Condemned 2 has its flaws, yes, with sometimes wonky controls and worthless online play but this is a great title for those looking for a bizarre experience. The horror of SKX isn't behind you, and if you want to get to the bottom of the mystery, you'll find yourself questioning how far down the rabbit hole you're willing to go. One thing is for sure, before everything is said and done, Ethan Thomas may just loose himself in the process.

Score (Taken cumulative)
-----------------------------------

Control [8/10]
Sound [9/10]
Visuals [8/10]
Gameplay [8/10]
Overall: 8/10


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/16/09

Game Release: Condemned 2: Bloodshot (US, 03/11/08)


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