Review by bbears

"How often do you get smash someone's face with a toliet seat?"

Condemned 2: Bloodshot is the sequel to the Xbox 360 launch title Condemned: Criminal Origins. The first Condemned was unique for many reasons including being one of two original titles in the launch. Condemned had unique combat which emphasized melee weapons over firearms in a FPS framework. This combined with a genuinely creepy atmosphere and great story made it one of the most memorable exclusives on the system. Condemned 2 improves on the first one in pretty much every way. Especially the common complaints, such as the linear CSI scenes and limited combat. Both of these areas are improved in a major way. While Condemned 2 is not as creepy and atmospheric, it is a more entertaining game to play and has a more fleshed out story that stays suspenseful throughout. However, if you were not a fan of the first, then this sequel will not change your mind. That said Condemned 2 does stand on it's own. You don't need to have played the first one as it neatly wraps up the game's loose ends, but some plot elements will make more sense.

PRESENTAION
Condemned 2 is great looking game that has had a lot of effort put into it. Most the characters look over sized and beefy, but not too unnatural looking, it just gives the game it's own unique look. Ethan, your main character, is particularly well modeled. Some of the enemies are striking how disturbing they look when you go into close up in mini action scenes with them. The enemies also have many animations and skins, which is definitely a good thing considering they will be in your face a lot. All of the weapons are all also well modeled and have solid animations. One of the only bugs that stuck out from the game though is with the deer antler weapon. You can wield a broken deer antler off a mounted deer head in the environment, but when your holding it in your hand you can't see it. This is more annoying than a real problem but considering their is an achievement for getting kills with this particular weapon you will notice it. Condemned 2 does a much better job of mixing up the environments than the first one. That said the environments are pretty bland and the weak point of the presentation. You do get to go to a cabin in the woods and a history museum, but everything looks the same pretty much, the only thing that changes is what weapons are available. The sound direction is also great. All the voice acting is top notch and the sound effects are perfect. Landing a pipe to the face of an enemy is immensely satisfying thanks to this. The music is not very prevalent but what is there is good.

CONTROLS
Wielding Ethan around in Condemned 2's environments can be frustrating at times. Trying to interact with objects in the environment can be unnecessarily difficult. These instances are rare but definitely take you out of the game, and the atmosphere and suspense are probably the best part of the game, so this is definitely a bad thing. Another annoyance the game presents is frequently getting caught on the scenery. This can also create frustration too because hit and run tactics sometimes are the best combat options. Besides this the game controls well. The combat system is surprisingly technical and mastering counters are important. Blocking is timing based and if you miss it's because you screwed up, so the game avoids being cheap. Condemned 2 is very linear though, outside of combat and the CSI parts you hardly interact with your environment.

STORY
Condemned 2 starts off shortly after the original game. Ethan is no longer with FBI and now is a raging alcoholic getting into bar fights. But after a family friend is killed by a serial killer they bring Ethan back in to hunt him down. Sounds hardly original but the game quickly takes many turns and you will not see where final levels of the game are going. Although some of the levels seem forced into the story so you can fight in certain areas, like a medevil history museum, the game keeps the suspense and mystery from beginning to end. Although this game is not creepy like the first, it keeps you engaged just as well. Condemned 2 also does a great job of tying up the loose ends of the confusing ending of the first one.

GAMEPLAY
Condemned 2 is a FPS where instead of firearms being the focus of combat, melee weapons that you attain from the environment are. There is a very large number of weapons that you can grab. They all have their own basic stats and this one of cooler parts of the game. These weapons also break after repeated use, some last longer than others. The melee weapons range from bricks, axes, electrical conduit, and even toilet seats. If you think you can rip it off the wall and smash someones face with it, you probably can. And the combat system for these weapons is well fleshed out. You can swing with either trigger, block, defensive kick, and throw your weapon in hand. Blocking is very important and proper timing off this allows you to counter into a combo. Mastering this is essential especially if you want to try to beat the game on hard. Although there is not a huge depth of attacks at your disposal the game does coming feeling quite technical. If you don't block and counter correctly you will get torn apart. Condemned 2 is a challenging game, mostly because the enemies have high health, but patience and will allow you to take on all challenges. Firearms are more prevalent in this game than the last. These sections can drag out and you will actually probably dislike them in favor of a good ol' pipe. The CSI like scenes where you use forensics at a crime are a bit more fleshed out this time around but are still very linear and easy. The few scripted events and boss battles that there are are the highlight of the game. The sequence where a rabid bear will be chasing you through isolated lodge is one of the most memorable sequences I have played in a game this generation. Condemned 2 does have a multiplayer and Bloodshot Fight club modes. Neither of these are very interesting. The latter being simply being an arcade combat mode. After all the combat you see in the game you have little reason to play this mode. The multiplayer modes are uninteresting and have a have a poor online community.

LONGEVITY
Condemned 2 has an average length for completion at 8-10 hours. Each level has a rating which influences what kind of upgrades you get. All the upgrades are passive and don't have a huge impact so the motivation for this is more about getting gold than the upgrades themselves. There are two other modes besides the campaign but as mentioned they are definitely not worth much and maybe only an hour or two onto you total time with the game.

VERDICT
Condemned is better in almost every way than the first and stands unique in itself against it. If you enjoyed the first one then you should definitely pick this one up too. If your in the mood just for something unique and with a good story, then I also recommend this game.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/09/12

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


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