Review by DandyQuackShot
Fight Fear With a Lead Pipe!
Finally there is a horror game that lives up to its style! Maybe I am a little late in finally getting around to playing Condemned, but after giving Monolith a second chance at redemption it turns out they were able to make a game that is not only fun to play, but just as equally scary. Condemned is a first person shooter/survival horror game that defines what horror is through the eery use of mannequins, dark lighting, abandoned buildings that are home to raging psychopathic squatters, and some of the same effects that made F.E.A.R. a decent horror game. Condemned is hands down the best horror game in next generation gaming with more scares and hair raising situations than a midnight binge on Red Bull while watching screamers on Youtube.
Condemned is based on a SBI detective who has made quite the career for himself by pursuing and capturing the worst of serial killers. Unfortunately he will run into the ultimate serial killer of serial killers while unraveling the mystery behind what is killing off flocks of birds and turning humans into bloodthirsty anarchists. The game settles itself between the fine lines of keeping focused on the realistic aspect of the game while barely keeping you from slipping into the unrealistic as Ethan Thomas must search for the serial killer to clear his name and also find out what paranormal presence is trying to prevent him from succeeding. It's a great story line that follows a concept much similar to F.E.A.R. as the lead characters never seem to get freaked out by the paranormal events that take place. The good news is that Ethan Thomas will always have his investigative equipment on hand to analyze crime scenes...the bad news is that he does not have enough ammo to stop the madness that unfolds in this game.
The game play of Condemned is simply put best as brutal. Your enemies will be humans that have been seemingly let out of Arkham Asylum by the Joker but in terms of the game something is making them go crazy and they will attack you as well as each other. Condemned defines survival horror as you will quickly run out of ammo in your pistol and have to resort to makeshift weapons to fend off attackers with objects like pipes, 2x4's, and even the razor of a paper cutter (my personal favorite). The game play is not all hack and slash however. There are more elements to the game than this. You will have to use your CSI skills to follow or find blood trails and take pictures for the bureau to analyze. You do not have much chance of surviving against multiple crazy guys so you also have a taser that will stun an enemy and allow you to take his weapon.
The AI is very smart in this game. Even if you manage to stun an enemy and take his or her weapon they will run off and go grab another one. Other times they will try to run around corridors to come up behind you as well as hide amongst displays or play dead. You also get to hear some funny comments from these guys as they rage through the halls. The game play stays interesting all throughout the game even when you have to search for an axe to pull off a "Shining" on a door to get to the next area.
The effects in this game make it the great horror game that it is. I absolutely do not want to spoil the surprises in this game even though there are many, but if you have played F.E.A.R. then you have only a little idea as to how this game goes. This game made me very jumpy so to speak. The setting is mostly in abandoned buildings and searching through these with just a flashlight and mobs of bad guys milling around make for one scary game. The music is equally as creepy especially in the famous department store level where the intensity of this game really takes off. The cheap thrills also pull off some great scares so if you are easily scared then you may be better off not trying to explore every nook and cranny in the game but wheres the fun in that?
Condemneds replay value is about par for the course of survival horror games. Your first run through is always going to be the best because you will not get the same thrill as you did playing it the first time. There are a lot of collectibles that you need to find to unlock the achievements although you can get about half of these the first time through. The game is definitely set up for a sequel as you wont get all the answers to the paranormal things going on, however, it does succeed in a satisfying story.
Final Recommendation 9/10
Buy this game. This is the best survival horror game to date and still is despite the many titles in this genre.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Condemned: Criminal Origins (US, 11/16/05)
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