May 04 2007
Review: Condemned: Criminal Origins
Condemned, which was released at launch along with the Xbox 360 is not a new game now, but it’s well worth reaching into the pre-owned section to play.
You play FBI Agent Ethan Thomas (voiced by Greg Grunberg, of Alias and Heroes). A decorated agent working for the serial crimes unit, Agent Thomas has had problems solving his cases lately. As the game starts, at a crime scene in a run down building, it all goes pear shaped. Thomas is attacked, loses his gun and two police officers are shot with it. Now a hunted man, you must solve the mysteries presented and clear your name.
The game is presented in the first person, to excellent effect. When you climb over or under obstacles, or say, get pushed down some stairs, it stays in first person, giving you a sometimes confusing, but always effective and atmospheric experience. And that’s what Condemned is all about really; atmosphere. The game environments are dark, claustrophobic and the music haunts you. Enemies hide around corners, audio and visual tricks are played to keep you on your toes. It all combines to excellent effect and I have to say, is the scariest game I’ve ever played. Sat with the curtains closed, late at night, in the dark, it will make you jump. A lot.
Although it’s set in a first person perspective, you won’t be shooting a lot of guns. There are guns, don’t get me wrong, but they always have limited ammunition, and you’ll get one, maybe a couple of kills from them, before you flip them round and start cracking skulls with the butt. Condemned is most fun when you’re wielding the melee weapons, of which there are many. You can rip pipes off walls, use locker doors, fire axes, sledge hammers; there are many, many weapons, all of which produce a satisfying amount of damage to your addict, homeless and serial killer enemies.
The game isn’t without it’s problems though. To solve the crimes and mysteries in the game, you have access to crime scene forensic tools, with a remote link to your lab. Unfortunately, you are led by the hand. There’s no real mystery in them, because you walk into an area, and a prompt appears on screen saying ‘evidence area, press x to collect’. It even picks the correct tool for you. It doesn’t make the game horrible, but it would have been much more fun to find your own evidence, and to have to choose the right tool for the job.
All in all, Condemned is an extremely atmospheric, single player experience. The story is well presented, and though it will only take you around 10 hours to complete first time round, there are multiple endings and achievements to keep you coming back. Well worth a tenner.
(Edited by Maffrew 04/05/2007 11:05)
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