Review by PickHut

"You Are Now Entering the Non-Scary Zone"

To put it bluntly, Ethan Thomas is crap. After the events of the first game, Condemned: Criminal Origins, he left the Serial Crimes Unit, became a drunk, and hangs around the homeless. Some irony, considering he was beating the crap out of them before. Well... some things don't change, because at the start of Condemned 2: Bloodshot, you find yourself using Ethan to fight a group of bums in the back of some alley. With his fists. It appears Ethan has developed the ability to fight with his own hands between the two titles. Well, that didn't help me much, though, as I quickly got killed, on the first stage... in the very first encounter. Yeah, it was pretty embarrassing. But, I managed to beat down all the homeless people on my second try, and moved on to stranger things. While the fists are handy at times, you're still better off picking up a bat or tearing a pipe off the wall as you walk through these disturbingly dark areas.

Now, the first part of the first mission was fine, where you're taking out enemies that pop out at the oddest moments to attack you (it's one of those games where you have to rely on your ears as much as your eyes), but the final half of it was just repetitive as hell. At that point, you enter this room that's just covered in some black, oily substance, and on the wall, there are these hive/cocoon-like things all over the place. If you walk near any of them, a skeletal demon will pop out, grab your head, and won't let go until you repeat the rapid LT/RT trigger motions on screen. The only way to defeat them? You have to throw your weapon at them. This is problematic, because the black substance makes it hard to see, so you can easily miss. And it won't really matter, because either way, the weapon will fly away in some random direction, making it hard to recover in all the oily crap. To make matters worse, the only other weapon that's around at first are some bricks, which break on impact. So, you just continue to go back and forth, picking up bricks to throw at these monsters.

It's sadly not a very good start to the game, but things pick up once you reach the second level, where you have to navigate inside a run-downed hotel. It's a classic Condemned level, as you travel down these dark hallways, going into random rooms, expecting the unexpected. You'll encounter odd sounds, men on toilets, and hobos attacking from behind as you enter small rooms. I never thought I would be attacked and tackled by a freaky-looking, naked man in a video game and be spooked about it. Hilariously, two glitches occurred in this stage that added to the tension. During one instance, as I was about to exit a bathroom, I turned around, and a malnourished man appeared, out of thin air, an inch in front of me. Scared the living crap out of me. The other moment was more funny, however, as a guy I just kill falls into a door (yes, into), gets stuck, and starts wiggling around like crazy. He manages to get free of the door, but he continues to shake violently, eventually starts floating in the air, and then disappears through the ceiling. I so wish I recorded that part....

Unfortunately, C2 slowly goes downhill from there. While it continues to be what it is, having unexpected things happen around you in the dark, the charm of the original title starts dissolving as the missions go on. The last great mission you'll be in is at the SCU building, where all sorts of screwy things go down. After that, however, only highlights happen, and they're too few and too far away from each other. Sneaking around in the museum, trying to avoid guards as much as possible, was cool while it lasted. The other highlights are just moments where an unexpected "thing" appears out of nowhere, and you have no other choice but to run your ass off through unfamiliar territory.

The main problem is that the game just stops trying to scare you. There's not that many moments in the game that'll make you go "oh ****, this isn't happening" or just make you jump like in the original. What hurts this is that, basically, you're overpowered at times. What helped made Criminal Origins so intense is that you constantly felt helpless in the midst of all the chaos. The only thing you could rely on are basic weapons like a pipe, and with firearms, you only had limited ammo, so you couldn't reload it, which meant every shot had to count. Here? In certain stages, there's guns up the ass, and you can actually find and put ammo in them. The cabin level, where you're somewhere in a snowy forest, supposedly by yourself, could have been great. However, the only main threat are a bunch of SWAT-esque guys which you can grab guns from after you kill them. Way to kill the mood. Actually, that pretty much killed the mood for the rest of the game, because everything just felt normal after the cabin level.

By the end of C2, it almost turned into a completely different game. Hell, it almost felt like I was playing a spiritual successor to Breakdown once I got the ability to shoot damaging waves at my enemies. Didn't help that a super powered, shirtless man appeared a little later... It saddens me, really, because it's no longer the game that it originated as. The creepiness isn't there anymore, you're no longer helpless, now a macho man, and the mystery has disappeared thanks to a point in the game where they explained in detail as to why things are the way they are. The online multiplayer and minigames are also mehish at best, only providing you with brief and minimal entertainment. In the end, you'll just be disappointed with Condemned 2: Bloodshot if you were a fan of the original. The only great improvement they did in this sequel were the investigation aspects, which actually forced you to pay attention to what people were saying, and made you look hard for clues. But, that's it. Go back to the first if you want a good horror title.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 04/18/08

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

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