Review by idiotman7

"Sleeping with the night light on tonight..."

Are you afraid of the dark? If you are then you probably don't like such things as scary movies, lonely hallways, or Condemned. Condemned, is a game that will take you everywhere from abandoned crack houses, abandoned Subway stations, and abandoned stores. To me, Condemned is kind of like a rouge episode of NYPD on steroids. As you make your way through the gorgeous and yet excitingly scary halls of the game, you heart will begin to race at every little scratch of the floor ahead of you, or by the sudden kick of a can, or drop of a box. When you turn the next corner and come face to face with the deranged druggy, you will only have a few seconds to take the lead pipe you broke from the wall across his head, or die from his own frantic attacks.

You are Ethan Thomas, a FBI agent, on the trail of a crazed serial killer, named The Matchmaker, for his unique style of killing. You arrive at the crime scene with your partner and another cop, and begin the investigation. It's pretty dark, so you will have to use your flashlight, and that's when you see exactly why he is a crazed, deranged, psychotic serial killer. The scene is pretty gruesome, the body of what seems to be a woman is in a chair, dead of course, with the expression and hair that would make Medusa say wow. Sitting across from her at the table is a perfect, well almost perfectly designed manikin, which is more of a trademark for The Matchmaker.

After investigating the crime with some of your up to date tools, your partner smells cigarettes, but no one in the room smokes. The three of you burst into the next room, only to find the criminal himself running up the fire escape. Your partner and the cop give chase to him, while you find a way to restore power to the building. Only you get knocked out by The Matchmaker, he takes your gun, kills your two partners, and you are set up for their deaths, so now you have to prove your innocence and apprehend the real criminal.

Condemned runs through a ten Chapter story, each chapter taking about an hour or two depending on your speed through the game. While it isn't that long of a game, it is very fun the first play through, unfortunately after beating it once, the only reason to go back through is to unlock any achievements you missed, which you probably did.

One of the achievements to unlock is finding and using each of the weapons in Condemned, which there are a lot of, and each one is fantastically done. One of the greatest feats of the game is its use of weapons, and the variety it gives you. While most games like this one will give you a gun throughout the game with plenty of ammo, Condemned actually takes the realistic route and barely gives you guns, instead making you find your weapons with the environment around you, which can include things like lead pipes from the wall, 2x4's, pistols, and even signs and fire axes. But if you don't have a weapon, don't worry; your trusty spring leg kicking attack will hurt enemies, as well as your tazer which can stun the crack heads for a few seconds.

The enemies though, are a lot more violent than you are though. While you may have better aim and a better sense of mind where to shoot and hit, they are as you may have figured, very jumpy and very violent people, which can cause unpredictable movements and behaviors, so pretty much, you don't know what to expect when dealing with them, but you can expect them to try and kill you, any means possible. If you get hurt, don't worry though, health is scattered around the world nicely, always be on the look out for red boxes on the wall with little bottles inside.

Your tools will be a key part in tracking down the criminals, and you are here with the latest in tracking and forensic examining technology. Take the backlight for example, it can see everything fro footprints to blood spatter, which will help you find key evidence in proving your innocence, and also help you progress through the story. Other tools like your camera to take pictures, and of course your cell phone to communicate with probably the only two people who think your innocent, will be used frequently during the game.

While your enemies may be the most deadly thing you will face, the levels itself can also be quite a handle, not that they will hurt you, just because of the lots of back tracking and go here flip a switch cut down the door go flip a switch. Condemned while was unique and spectacular in many ways, the constant going back and forth is very monotonous and even though the enemies are already dead you are never quite to sure if something is going to pop out at you, which makes you go slower than you would like trying to be cautious.

Sound is one of the key points in Condemned though, while trying not to make too much, and using it to find your enemies, because they will make sound, and lots of it, whether it be running, throwing things, or just screaming. Most of them game you will need to rely on sound to tell you where the druggies and hobos are, since your eyes wont, listening to footsteps, breathing, anything will help you and might save your life.

The music in Condemned, while rare, does set the creepiness of the game defiantly. While it doesn't have a full fledge soundtrack, it does have that classic scary, watch where your going or you will die sound to it like in horror movies and other classic games. Voice Acting is also superb, which added to the realism of the game tremendously.

Of course those times that you don't hear the crack heads, and they come at you swinging a pipe at your head, that's the time you have to take a second, and look at the visuals for Condemned. I will say that, even though it looks far better than most X-Box and PS2 games, it doesn't quite scream next gen either. Put it up to other titles like Kameo and Call of Duty, and this game seriously lacks. While environments are greatly detailed, and lightening effects are above decent, character models seem kind of questionable, and weapons are pretty bland.

All in all, I think Condemned is a mixture between amazing ideas, but soft put out by the developers. Fantastic and realistic gameplay, lifelike sounds and voice acting and an interesting, although confusing story were enough to make Condemned one of the best early titles for the 360, although the graphics weren't exactly ground breaking and the petty back and forth flow of the game was boring.

While it may not be the best and most amazing game you will ever play, Condemned is a good game to rent, but if you do buy it, and I did, don't expect to play it time and time again, since the game is kind of on the short side, and doesn't exactly reek of I got to play this again just because its so great. So, turn on the lights, keep your baseball bat near you, and get ready to jump, cause Condemned is going to scare you, maybe not as badly as Silent Hill did, but it will scare you.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 05/30/06

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