Review by BukaMathematics
"Horrific... in a good way!"
The first Condemned was a unique and clever FPS-Horror title. What made it so unique? Well, aside from it actually earning the title of a horror game, it was a first-person shooter game without guns. Well, it did have guns, but they weren't the focus of the game and were rather underpowered. Instead of going through each level shooting everything with a pulse, you are forced to rely on melee combat and the environment. Nearly everything that you would think of using as a weapon, could be used as a weapon, from bricks to steam pipes to paper cutters.
And the best part was that it was realistic, both with finding weapons and the combat itself. Rather than just mashing a few buttons to kill your enemies (cough-Half Life-cough), you had to observe and think. Rapidly pressing the attack button and praying would only get you killed quicker. You were encouraged to watch your enemy, learn their attack patterns and strike when you knew they were open. Sure, you could just swing-block-swing-block-swing-block, but that just leaves you weakened for the enemy hiding behind that book shelf over there.
Speaking of enemies, did I mention how smart they were? It's true. And they are not just simply more aggressive or defensive at the right times, they will also work together. I cannot tell you how many times I was backed into a corner by three or four guys and beaten to my death. I'm not exaggerating either, your enemies are aware of their surroundings and will unleash a fury of rapid attacks to push you backwards. It is rather creepy when you really think about just how smart they were.
If you have already played the first Condemned, which is an Xbox 360 exclusive, you already know how realistic the combat is and how vicious your enemies are. Well, the people at Sega have cranked thins up for an extra dose of intensity. And as the sequel to Condemned, Bloodshot greatly improves the enemy A.I. and adds some unique features to the gameplay.
The A.I., as I have mentioned, is the most impressive I have seen in a fighting- or action/adventure -game thus far. Since I have already discussed the basics of your foes in Condemned, I'll get on with the improvements. The enemies in the first Condemned didn't have superpowers; they weren't aliens bred to fight; there was nothing special about them at all. They were just your average sociopathic druggie. They still are, for the most part, but they act and fight more like it.
You'll notice that during big brawls with more than two enemies, you won't be the only target. Enemies will, in fact, fight each other. Say, for example, that you are being ambushed by three enemies, who we'll call Bob, Larry, and Jack. If Bob hits Larry, Larry will hit Bob back and they will proceed to fight each other to the death, which allows you to fight Jack one-on-one.
Another noticeably realistic thing your enemies will do is pick up weapons. I don't mean that if they see you they'll pick up the closest weapon, which they did in the first. I'm talking about them actually searching for some kind of weapon. If you are spotted by the enemy, they will run away to find something to beat you down with. They will also run away for a weapon if you happen to disarm them. Another cool weapon-related action your enemies will do is throw projectiles. Just because they can't reach you doesn't mean that a brick can't. I noticed specifically in one level in which I had crossed a plank. Said plank broke, which denied the last remaining enemy access to me. To get past this, he ran to a pile of bricks and started launching them at me. That's pretty smart; something I don't think I would have even thought of.
Okay, enough about the enemies and their ginormous brains, let's get on to the best part of C2: the scares! Condemned arrived as the current generation's first survival-horror title. And it does the sub-genre a good one. I'm not one to be easily scared unless I'm in the right mood, but Condemned managed to get me eve when I wasn't playing at midnight with all the lights out.
Now, to tell the truth, C2 doesn't do much new in terms of scares; you still have the typical jumpers and odd noises off in the distance. What makes it scary, however, is not what it does, but how it does those things. I mean, who knew a mannequin of all things would creep me out? Like I've said before, the trick to good scares is stringing your audience along and hitting them with a variety of tactics in rapid succession, which C2 does successfully.
Don't think that C2 only has recycled tactics, though. As I mentioned in the last paragraph, the game really managed to get me with a clever combination of odd-noises-over-there and pop-outs. In fact, I can only think of one time that I knew the game was trying to creep me out, but didn't. For the sake of spoilers, though, I won't delve any further.
The story this time around, unfortunately, isn't as good as the first Condemned. You play as ex-FBI agent Ethan Thomas who is now an alcoholic hobo on the run from his former employers, the government. Something happens around town and the government is no longer trying to kill Ethan, they now need his help. It turn out that SKX, the main villain in Condemned who was thought to be dead, has returned to wreak havoc once again. That's not Ethan's only problems though. He is also having horrific hallucinations every time he blacks out or enters a pitch-black area.
Overall it is an interesting story, but falls off later on in the game. I won't get into that any more than I already have. You'll know what I'm talking about even in just the first level.
Apart from the main story you have Fight Club, which is exactly as it sounds. In the practice mode you can select a variety of options and then duke it out with a number of enemies. This is a good way to sharpen your skills for when you are playing the main game. There are also various game modes that range from helping out an SCU (Serial Crimes Unit) squad from afar with projectiles to killing as many Blowup Tommy's as you can in a set time. Fight Club is really fun and adds to the length of the game.
Bloodshot also introduces something that you wouldn't have thought of for this type of game: online multiplayer. I didn't get to spend a lot of time with the online play, but it sure was fun from what I got a taste of. The free-for-all death-match, which is the only mode I had a chance to play, is basically the single-player Fight Club, but with human players. Although I did notice that other players enjoyed hiding in the dark and jumping out at you after you finish off another player... sneaky bastards. There are a few other modes, but I didn't have time to try those out.
Overall, Condemned: Bloodshot is an amazing experience. It does everything that the first did and improves upon it. The only thing I didn't really care for was the story, which was rather good for the first part of the game. Online play and Fight Club both add to the length of the game. Even better though, is that the players online aren't complete jackasses like the ones on games like Call of Duty and Halo!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/14/09
Game Release: Condemned 2: Bloodshot (US, 03/11/08)
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