Review by kiriyama2

"Could've been something cool, sadly, it isn't."

I was really looking forward to this game. I really was, I loved the first Condemned, it was a good, surprisingly tense horror themed game. Granted the ending was a bit dumb, but for the most part it was a good game. However, when I actually played the game it really did nothing for me. Condemned 2 really isn't that great of a game.

Condemned 2 begins a few weeks after the end of the original Condemned. Things seem to be getting worse in Unspecified-ville, the local hobo populace seems to be getting crazier, and there's a serial killer running amok. Also Malcolm Vanhorn from the previous Condemned seems to be the next target of the killer. So after calling the police they decide to drag Ethan Thomas into the investigation to find out who the killer is, where Vanhorn is, and why the derelicts of Unspecified-ville are going insane. Seems that after the events of Condemned Ethan became something of a drunk, a violent one at that. Also he's suffering hallucinations of a bunch of people with no faces trying to take over the world, or something. The story for a majority of the game is pretty good. Not exactly great mind you, but a decent enough yarn. That is of course barring some of the more stupid plot twists that occur in the last hour or so of the game. *shudders*

That said; the gameplay is pretty decent. It's a bit upgraded from what it was in Condemned, featuring more combos and a more robust melee combat system. There are also more weapons around with which to beat people severely with. For instance, you can now wield bricks, granted they're fundamentally useless in a fight, but they make for a good projectile. However, wailing away on the hobo populace does tend to get a bit old after a while. The game seeks to change up the pace by giving you guns (which there are piteously few), and making you fight strange black shadowy people. Such as monsters that spawn from the floors or ceilings and try to devour you, to combat them you engage in a small button mashing mini-game. A few annoying things about these encounters are that they take out a large amount of your health if you don't dispatch them quickly enough. There's also the fact that you have to pull the trigger's in just the right way otherwise you lose a sizeable portion of your health bar. That's something I find greatly annoying about the combat in this game. At times you'll get a quick time event type thing, where you have to pull one of the triggers at a precise moment, but a lot of the time it never bothers to register that you've pressed that button. Or, it'll simply cancel the combo if you pull the trigger too quickly, cause god forbid if you are used to needing to hit buttons quickly!

Then there's the gunplay, sure it's okay, but you never really have too many bullets for your guns. You only usually get five bullets or so at a time, except near the end of the game when you seem to get a near constant stream of machine guns (that are always fully loaded, despite being shot at). Something that they opted to remove from this game that was in the original Condemned is the ability to use empty shotguns and so forth as a melee weapon. I know it's dumb to be bothered by that small removal, but I liked that in the original. However, one of the neat things they added to the game is the implementation of more edged weapons. Granted, there aren't many, but during the museum level you can run around wielding a huge broadsword. I thought that was pretty cool. It would've been cool if there had been more fire axes, or even wood axes, but hey the game does let you engage in taking people out with prosthetic limbs, so that's something.

One of the cooler things in this game is the new forensics investigation mini-games. I think they're pretty cool in this one; a lot of time the investigation bits just take on the form of a quiz. Then depending on the answer you get graded based on your results. It's a nice diversion, and require a bit of thought to get the correct response. The sad part about the forensics investigation is there is very little of it. About halfway through the game you almost never get any of them at all.

Throughout the course of the game Ethan suffers severe hallucinations (ala F.E.A.R.) which can actually be pretty tense. One of the better things in this game is some of the more scary bits, like the entirety of the cabin mission. Trouble is there are precious few of them, and only one of them is really memorable (the cabin area has a wonderful sense of tension and dread).

One of the problems I have with this game is the fact that the graphics are really unbearably dark. Perhaps it's because I don't own and HDTV, but this game is almost always pitch black. Even during the parts that take place in moderately well lit areas are surprisingly dim. Even the flashlight you're provided gives very little light. I personally don't think it's too much to ask to be able to see what ever it is your trying to fight. You know for all the crap I gave Breakdown's graphics at least you could actually see what it is you're trying to kill!

The sound in this game is decent enough. It's certainly not horrible, but personally I didn't really care all that much for the voice acting. The music, what little there is, is fair. The whole audio show is really just trying to be subtle and creepy, and to that end it works pretty good. Hearing the crazed mutterings of the insane homeless is pretty unnerving in a way. It's just the whole thing just sounds so damned generic, I don't know.

Something new to Condemned is the inclusion of multiplayer. The modes themselves are rather bland, which might be because of the near lifeless online community. For the most part the modes all just play out as team deathmatch. Granted there are some modes that have you trying to find evidence, but it's just about as quick to just kill the team playing the murderers. Also the online modes suffer the same problems as the single player. Dark as hell environments, and a rather poor selection of weapons in the maps, also there's not in the way of map selection in these modes either. Really though the multiplayer modes just feel rather tacked on and pointless, and thanks to the non-existent community there's no reason to even bother.

Like I said, I desperately wanted to like this game. It's just that the combat got boring way too quickly, and almost always degraded into a simple button mashing excursion. Then there's also the really, really dark graphics, and the bland, but serviceable sound effects, and the dull multiplayer. It's not horrible, sure, it's just very boring and gets repetitive very quickly. It would've been cool if there were more of the forensics parts, but sadly there wasn't. Also there wasn't enough of the horror bits in this game, and the story just sort of falls apart near the end. If you played and enjoyed the original Condemned, by all means try this one you might like it. I for one didn't, because it was just so damned boring, if you're looking for a good horror type game, Call of Cthulhu is a hell of a lot better.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 02/20/09

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

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