Review by deblas66

Reviewed: 01/20/06

You MUST play this game!

Condemned was recently released at the launch of the X Box 360. It is a highly underrated title and deserves much more credit than any other game at launch. It is unique, innovative, and gripping...a Masterpiece.

Condemned puts you in the shoes of FBI agent Ethan Thomas in a first person shooter (FPS) for a CSI meets old school horror game that is thrilling from start to finish. The only things stopping it form perfection are so minor that they really aren't worth mentioned.

The game starts with you investigating a murder along with two police officers. Pretty soon the killer takes your gun and kills the officers with it, framing you. You are now on your own to stop the killer and claim your innocence.

Due to the intense nature of the storyline, I will not reference any scene or event in the plot because I don't want any new players to have anything spoiled for them.

Graphics: 9

The graphics in this game are definitely next generation worthy. The presentation won't seem as bright and beautiful as some other games, but that's because it is a dark game from the start. Lighting effects and shadows play a large role in the game and are implemented perfectly. The environments look so real, you will feel like you are actually in a rundown building, which in turn heightens the tension while you are playing. The only problem that I had with the graphics are the character models. For the most part they look really good, but at times they can look a little warped. This really doesn't take anything away from the game experience in any way, but I thought that I should point it out.

Sound: 10

The sound in this game is easily one of its strongest suits. There is an obvious lack of music, which at first will make you think that the game is lacking something, but it will soon become apparent why that was necessary. Throughout the game, enemies will come after you from real places (there are no spawn points). This means that unless they come from the same path you are walking, they have to break something down, knock something over, or make some kind of noisy entrance. The absence of music allows the player to listen for these entrances. Believe me, the first time I heard some enemies I thought, "that sounds like something climbing a fence." Sure enough I turned around to see a couple enemies climbing a fence I had just passed.

The sound effects and voice acting is some of the best I have ever heard. Ethan is constantly talking to Rosa on the phone as she helps him sort out his CSI clues. Whenever you investigate a crime scene the clues you find are transmitted to Rosa (who is still helping you because she believes you were framed) to get data relevant to the storyline.

Story: 10

The story in this game is amazing. That pretty much covers it. For those wondering why, I'll explain. The plot is spectacular and is not always revealed through cutscenes but rather through your investigating and processing of clues. It really feels like you're playing a CSI meets Silent Hill game. There are a bunch of plot twists and information that make the game seem even scarier than when you started. I don't want to ruin anything so I'm not going to give any particulars, but it really is a wonderfully designed plot that will make you think and will leave enough stuff unexplained to make your head churn in an attempt to put together exactly what happened, while also giving you enough information to feel satisfied once you have beaten the game.

Gameplay: 10

This game plays like a typical first person shooter, although guns aren't your main weapons in the game. While there are several types of guns to find, their ammo will never be more than a few bullets and the amount of time you will spend with them should be significantly less than the time you spend using the game's various melee weapons. You will find an assortment of pipes, 2x4s, and other swingable objects that will be used as weapons. There are also several specific weapons that are also used to open things throughout the game. The crowbar is used to open safes and some gates, the fire axe is used to chop through certain doors, the shovel is used to destroy wiring for electronic locks, and the sledgehammer is used to bash off padlocks. The combat is very violent and gruesome. The hits you give and take feel slow or quick depending on the weapon and all hits have a savage feel to them that make you grimace a little at first. There are also 4 finishing moves that you can employ on nearly fallen enemies. You are also equipped with a tazer that will stun your enemies and allow you to steal their weapon or just give you enough time to take them down.

The game is different from a FPS in that the movement is much slower. This is no fast paced shooter or beat em up, this is a slow paced methodical investigation. You have a run bar which allows you to run, but it runs out somewhat quickly and it still doesn't make you move that fast.

The main gameplay feels very intense and atmospheric. Never have I realized the atmosphere so much in one game. As you move, you will be conscious of every corner and door. You will check every room and path to look for clues and to make sure no enemies are waiting for you to turn your back. It is a very deliberate game that forces you to take your time when exploring. The investigating parts are not hard to do, in fact they may be a little too easy, but they never get in the way and they only add to the game.

Tilt: 9

I gave this game a very high tilt because it is so original and innovative that you must play it. There are enough generic games out there and enough highly anticipated sequels to make your head spin. Condemned is very different and it takes some chances. This is a game I would recommend to anyone. It does not have that much replay value other than some exploration achievements. There is no multiplayer and once you know the story and the levels a lot of the atmosphere will be less tense.

Overall: 10

This is easily one of the best games I have ever played. It is perfect in so many ways. The feeling you get when playing is remarkable. You are so on edge and ready for anything as you slowly make your way through rundown buildings and sewers. The tension combined with brutal combat make this a violent and yet cautious game. I would recommend this to anyone that is or isn't a fan of gaming in any genre.


Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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