Review by DandyQuackShot
"Needs More Mannequins"
We can probably bid farewell to what was hopefully going to be an excellent horror game series. Monolith had a great start to making some very good horror games with just the basics in graphic engines to work with and the developers deserve a lot of credit for bringing us praiseworthy games like F.E.A.R. and Condemned: Criminal Origins. So what the heck went wrong? Did too many people get scared of playing the originals that the sequels of both of these games had to turn into straight up action games? I can pinpoint exactly where Condemned 2 takes a sudden hit and unfortunately no lessons were learned from it when they released F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. Condemned 2 loses its horror flavor as soon as you find out that this game is going to explain all of the mysteries of the first game. It also loses its title as a horror game when nothing is added to the scare tactics from the original game, and the sequel goes so far as to slack off on all of the things that made you jump in the first Condemned game.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot is a decent and playable game despite losing its horror appeal. There are some improvements to the game that definitely shows game play progress from the first Condemned, but then there are those improvements for which there is no explanation as to why it was relevant to completely remake all of the characters from the first game. The characters all got a makeover or were completely changed while the original Ethan Thomas looks very similar to the bad guy in this game. The story loses its horror appeal by becoming a plot stuck between the likes of a Dan Brown story and some scheme The Joker would think up to cause total anarchy in Gotham City. The plot develops very well if you pay close attention to the notes in the first game but in the pursuit of the explainable the paranormal tensions of the first get lost as you beat and bash your way to the next psycho in the second.
One noticeable improvement to Condemned 2 was the removal of having to use certain weapons to get past certain obstacles. I would not have minded needing to use a fire axe to smash through a door (which was really cool in a The Shining kind of way in the first game) but this feature was totally removed to focus on using your new found fire axe to smash through an enemy's head. There are a whole lot more different weapons to find and use in the sequel as most of the weapons are more related to the unique levels in the game compared to the abandoned buildings you whack your way through in the original. The medieval weapons in the museum are no fakes and you will encounter some looters that are ready to go Braveheart on you and some beat cops. The crime scene investigation is not really improved upon, but is expanded to include an annoying rating system that allows you to choose the best answer for a problem. It works well when you are working a crime scene or following a trail of bloody evidence, but trying to rewire an elevator using this system becomes an aggravating nuisance that I had unashamedly admit to having used a FAQ to get past.
The brutality of the fighting in the game is raised to much higher levels (as if it needed it) with added combination punching, quick button pressing situations, and environmental hazards waiting for potential moments of disaster. A grapple features allows you to stick your enemy's head into all kinds of unique and fatal contraptions. There are more guns on the streets this time around and eventually this game almost turns into a straight up shooter but an unnecessary feature is drinking alcohol to "steady" your aiming. It is unnecessary since all it does is turn your Call of Duty crosshairs into Master Chief's perfectly still crosshairs. At least the alcohol bottles have other uses such as making good throwing weapons.
Another useless feature thrown I guess for kicks and giggles are the television and radio sets that placed throughout the game to supposedly offer advice to you. Instead, you will simply be following news broadcasts about things that have already happened or things you have already run into while some British talking woman keeps reporting for "The City News" about "The City's riots". I thought Raccoon City was a generic name...but Condemned gets the trophy for the most generically named city contest.
Multiplayer is about as dull as a 7th grade writing test pencil. Of course, I have to credit the game for still having an online community, but if you like playing only one particular game type that lasts an average of two minutes per game then you might be in luck. Anybody else looking for something new and exciting since the horror appeal of the game had to have been replaced with something good will still be disappointed. There are a few different game types in the game but mostly what you will run into are Crime Scene game types where you play as either the crazy people or the SCU and you have to hide a box of evidence from the SCU and then proceed to survive to the last man standing. It is simply a "locate the bomb", attack and defend type of game, but apparently it is the only thing people will want to play online. Ranked matches may take a while to get into, but with no leader boards who would care for ranked matches anyway?
The most unnecessary part of Condemned is the Fight Club. As if you did not get enough hobo bashing done during the single player mode you can try to beat a time of killing even more hobos and bums. All of the game types are pretty much the same thing and I do not think there are any achievements to go along with completing these things or through beating certain time limits so it would seem like a rather useless feature. I should also throw in the enemies of the game that had no plausible explanation like the Transformers in the barge and the guys that if painted green, would resemble uncanny Incredible Hulks.
As for the graphics, yeah they were also improved upon and look even better than F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin's graphics. What I especially praise Condemned 2: Bloodshot for is the highly detailed psychos and other enemies in the game along with the ability to get to read the posters and other text on the walls. Thanks to that, I know a little history about medieval mercenaries now. Little things like that always deserve some praise. The sound is also well done except for the in game dialogue. Ethan will be talking to somebody in a cut scene and then when it goes back to the game that person will be hardly audible. Not sure what happened there. However, I can overlook things like that when you have classic horror screeching noises while you are going brutal on somebody. Some of the scary effects made a small come back in this game like a run in with the mannequins (my personal all time favorite of any horror game), scary abandoned buildings like the Magic Theater and a bowling alley, and of course the brutal murder discoveries. The effects were great once again, but still nothing new and unfortunately put in the backseat of this game.
The achievements and unlockables are rather hard to get. You have to be on the lookout to find things as well as be prepared to achievement boost online with a friend if you want to get them all. The only other things you can unlock are concept art and the Fight Club challenges. Yay.
Final Recommendation 6/10
I rate Condemned 2: Bloodshot much lower than its predecessor because the first game not only has to be played to fully understand the sequel, but because it did a much better job of living up to being the best horror game on the 360 thus far. Condemned 2 comes nowhere close to the original and it just does not have the horror appeal that I think it should have had. I would still be willing to give a Condemned 3 a shot because there are still plenty of possibilities for a game like this to still be a great series. It definitely has a long way to go before it falls into the "totally not a horror series anymore" category and you find yourself playing cooperatively online with a friend and shooting enraged zombies every few feet. Condemned 2 is not a bad game, but I would highly recommend the first game of the series instead of this one if you want the full on scares of a true horror game.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 06/24/09
Game Release: Condemned 2: Bloodshot (US, 03/11/08)
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