Review by OmegaZeta
Condemned 2 be mediocre: exciting, addictive but uninspired
Condemned 2: Bloodshot is the sequel to Monolith's sleeper hit, Condemned: Criminal Origins. Ethan Thomas revives his role as the punch-happy, hobo-beating SCU agent- well, former SCU agent. Following the mysterious end of Criminal Origins, Ethan has become an alcoholic and has quit the force. He lives a life of drowned sorrows until old friends and new enemies come knocking.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot expands the Condemned IP to new areas, some good and some bad. Overall, it is a solid sequel that recognizes the fundamental aspects of what Condemned: Criminal Origins so great, but makes silly mistakes in implementing them, tarnishing what could have been a flawless performance. With more polish and a more coherent plan, Condemned 2: Bloodshot could have easily surpassed the original.
Argumentatively Condemned 2's biggest flaw, the story continues off of SKX's legacy and the crime-ridden town of Metro City. Violence and insanity has spilled over onto the streets and normal life becomes disrupted amidst the death and destruction. Ethan is scouted out by the SCU to solve this problem and meet with an old friend, Malcom Vanhorn. He visits exotic locations like a museum, a barge and a theatre to name a few. However, the story begins to get nonsensical and almost ridiculous near the end of the game.
Part of the charm and scariness of Condemned: CO was its very real, down to earth story. Condemned 2 regards none of these rules as it quickly spirals out of control into near sci-fi aspects. This hurts both the believability and the scariness factor of the game. Also, as the story twists and turns, it becomes increasingly apparent that it has not been fleshed out fully as explanations become weaker and weaker, and plot holes emerge. It is painfully obvious that the story took a backseat to the graphics and gameplay additions that Condemned 2 makes, an upsetting omission.
Mirrored by the story, the gameplay is vastly improved over Condemned: CO. Ethan can now fight with his fists, using RT for right fist and LT for left fist. He blocks by holding both and can now execute deadly combos, of which there are many. These take the old, shallow combat system and tune it to be very personalized and deep. Also, a combo meter now appears in the top-right, which, when full, allows you to execute deadly quick-time sequences to destroy your foes. While quick-time sequences have been done to death, the meter combos are chunky and there are many different ones that the game chooses from, so it feels fresh and useful. But, these meter combos are sometimes undercut by the fact that the game does not register button presses very well and you will sometimes fail one that you swear you pressed.
Guns are much more prevalent in the game, for better or worse. They are very useful in fighting some of the quicker, annoying enemies, and can make for some intense firefights. However, there are far more quick enemies than guns for them, and the cramped corridors of Condemned 2 does not allow for the maneouvering that a more gun-themed FPS would bring. You can also gain upgrades based on how well you did in the previous level, which can beef up your existing weapons or give you new ones. While some of these are useful, as the game progresses, it begins to clutter the fighting and you'll find yourself resorting to a few tried-and-true sequences.
The graphics have improved slightly since Condemned: CO, namely in the player model department. Ethan Thomas is present in his new and grizzled form but still retains the familiar visage. Rosa is much more detailed now, and a much more integrated character, this is reflected in her new appearance and animation. The environment in Condemned 2 is where it shines however, and every one looks unique and realistic. All of the weapons are designed beautifully and you have no problem picking out what might be usable as a weapon in the game.
The game IS a tad dark at times though, especially in some levels where black ooze covers the level and your enemies. This can lead to some annoying moments and make you wish you had a 1000-watt lamp to put down in front of Ethan. Also, during some of the more open-air levels, the framerate shows a noticeable chug.
While Condemned is not a renowned game for the sound department due to the lack of all music, the sound effects are very well done. Each blow sounds like it hurts, and the grunts, yells and shrill screams of your enemies come through well. However, the constant yelling of your opponents has been toned down a bit, so many more of your battles will be only grunting.
The voice acting is a very hit-or-miss affair for Condemned 2. Some of the actors, like Special Agent Dorland, Ethan Thomas and Rosa are spot on, delivering invigorating performances that have real emotion behind them. But some of the characters, like Farrell, the so-obviously-not-british-you'll-want-to-kill-yourself news anchor and her annoying comrade Tony are extremely unpleasant on the ears. This is a shame because you hear just as much from the latter category as you do from the former.
The game has some extreme polishing glares. There are many bugs and oversights that inhibit the game from being better and more enjoyable. In one playthrough, an escort of mine sank through the floor, a person I was escorting stood in a doorway and simply refused to move, my projectiles would clip with open air, I would be able to look in a doorway and see clipping with the environment and button presses would constantly be stiff and unresponsive. Were these fixed, the game would not be in the slight hot water it is in.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot is a faithful sequel that elaborates on the Condemned: Criminal Origins foothold, but strays too far from its roots trying to outshine it. Had it had a bit more polish, a bit more testing and bit more planning, it would have brought the series out of the back shelf and onto the mainstay. However, it is a very good purchase for those who have played Condemned: Criminal Origins, fans of survival horror or anyone to who it looks interesting. 7/10.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Condemned 2: Bloodshot (US, 03/11/08)
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