Review by dtremlett
Condemned 2: Bloodshot, a TRULY hard hitting survival horror title.
In Condemned 2: Bloodshot you play the role of former SCU agent, Ethan Thomas. After solving the SKX murders and apparently putting an end to the city's problem's, he has cleared his name, he has resigned from the SCU and turned to the bottle. Understandable, considering the unspeakable horrors that he went through in hunting down SKX. Thomas, is reluctantly brought back into the fold after his old friend Malcolm Vanhorn mysteriously turns up dead, the SCU want him to come back to work for them, so they can figure out what has happened and Thomas wants to know the reason's behind his old friend's death for himself.
Overall very impressive, the character models are very well detailed and animate very fluidly and the backgrounds look suitably dark and oppressive, not that you'll be having much time to take in the scenery, as you will be constantly fighting for your life and keeping a vigilant eye out for ambushes.
One thing about the Condemned series, is that puts you in first person view and keeps you there totally, really immersing you into the game as you fill Ethan's shoe, the only time you are not in first person view is the cutscenes, which are rendered in a very impressive and gritty cinematic fashion, with the facial details being top notch. Another nice touch, is the fully rendered 3D model of Ethan, it can really can take me personally out of a game, when I am looking down the floor in a first person game and I don't see my character's feet, so it's good to this being thought of.
One of Condemned 2's greatest aspects, despite the fact it doesn't have an actual soundtrack to speak of save for whatever background noise there is in the immediate area. It relies on ambient sounds, to build up the atmosphere and tension, I remember times where I walk round a level, with almost no sound and I crunch over a glass bottle, and I would wheel around, looking for enemies hiding nearby in ambush position. The voice acting is particularly good, it is slightly disappointing, that they changed the voice actor for Ethan, but all the actor's suit their character's well overall, and add credence to the game.
Condemned 2 is a very interesting game, taking a few elements from other games and blending them together, to form a unique experience. As with the first Condemned game, melee combat feature's heavily and will be your method of defending yourself for most of the game. The melee combat, has been vastly improved from the first game, which relied on single strikes and some basic parrying at best. This time, you have a very large ranges of weapons and attacks at your disposal. First among these is your fists, each represented by the triggers on the controller, to complement this the developer's have added in a combo system, plus a new feature called chain attack, where you must respond to on-screen prompts to complete a brutal sequence of attacks. Like the first game, you can also scavenge weapons from your surroundings, like 2 x 4 s, pipes, glass bottles and various other pieces of debris can be used to pummel your many foes into submission. For me the only slightly nagging thing was that enemies have huge endurance and multiple person fights can be difficult to survive at times.
Gunplay features much more heavily in this installment, than in the first game, in some levels, you will almost exclusively engage in combat with firearms. Thankfully this time around, you can reload your weapons rather than simply discarding them after you have emptied your clip or smashed the gun by using it as a melee weapon. Another feature, is the gun holster, which allows you to carry a handgun with you at all times, which can be very useful. Also, due to Ethan's alcoholism, you will find his aim to be unsteady when aiming down the sights of a weapon, you can remedy this by drinking from liquor bottles, scattered around the levels, which calm Ethan and steady your aim.
You also have forensic investigations to conduct at times, many fans will remember this feature, from the first time, well, the goods news is this, it has been improved vastly, rather than the game holding your hand, and telling you exactly what to do.
This time around, it let's you do the actual detective work, so you will be studying bodies, for things such as trauma points to establish the cause of death, the person's identity, and examining blood trails to determine whether or not the area you are in is where the actual crime took place. It's such a shame that this does not feature more prominently this time around, as I found it fascinating in the first game where it was a definite staple of the core gameplay, and the forensic investigation you will conduct in this game, are quite engaging.
A very good game, an essential purchase for anyone who enjoys the survival horror genre.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Condemned 2 (EU, 04/04/08)
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