You might think this review is over 6 months late, but since the gameâs price has been cut in half and we didnât bring you a review before now is a good chance to check this game out. With all the mediocre quality launch games Condemned was a pleasant surprise. The shopkeeper looked strange at me when I told him I wanted this game to crack Junksâ skulls in with a claw hammer. âBut this is no regular fpsâ he said, I nodded and took the game home with me.
In Condemned youâll play an FBI agent named Ethan Thomas who is assigned to the serial crimes division. You are the best cop of your division with a solving rate way higher than anybody elseâs. Youâll start off in the game by following a colleague to a crime scene through a dark sewerlike set of corridors. A young woman has been murdered by a serial killer who left a couple of clues behind like you see in the typical serial killer movies like âthe Bone Collectorâ. After a couple of dialogues and using your investigation tools which Iâll get to later, youâll quickly get distracted by some noises you hear upstairs and supposedly the killer is still in the building. You head upstairs with your colleague and a cop who was guarding the building and you decide to split up to catch the killer. Youâll encounter some hostiles and finally youâre in the position where the killer is pointing a gun at you. Your 2 friends try to rescue you but theyâre shot by the killer and youâre framed for murder. And thatâs the beginning of the first out of ten chapters from this game. In the following chapters youâre trying to clear your name, find out why youâre so goddamn good at solving mysteries, why youâre being helped by a guy named Malcolm Vanhorn and why lots of people try to kill you.
Killing your enemies
When you first start playing the game itâs a little weird why all these weird zombielike dudes on steroids are attacking you. It appears itâs some kind of âvirusâ that is twisting the minds of those left behind by society. So donât feel guilty when you splatter oneâs guts across the wall. During your investigation youâll encounter a lot of hostiles, and you have various ways of killing them. Your standard gear comes with a taser, which will stun your opponents for a short period of time. To finish them off youâll need something else, and by something I mean anything larger than approximately 20cm. A crowbar, steampipe, paper cutter or even a mannequin arm are a few examples of skullsmashing goodness. Sometimes youâll get lucky and you can do your finishing move. Your opponent gets dizzy and you can choose 4 different âfatalitiesâ like breaking his neck or smashing his skull. This made me laugh even the 100th time I did this.
But the game has some guns too, not as fun as melee combat, but it can make some situations a lot easier. Most of these guns can be found in trashcans, lockers or other less usual places, unlike normal shooters where guns are rotating with stars around them in the middle of a corridor. Youâre also unable to reload your weapons, youâre stuck with the ammo already in the gun. But no problem when your gun is empty and thereâs still a guy trying to wack you, just use the back end of your gun and give it a swing. When you cracked your gun thereâs always your mighty foot which you can use to kick him in the balls. But you should definitely keep in mind that most of the time youâll have to use melee weapons so donât think of this game as a regular FPS.
The suspense in this game is just marvelous. When youâre walking down a dark hallway equipped with a pipe and you suddenly hear some glass cracking behind you, you turn around and youâll only see a shadow quickly disappearing around the corner. You canât see him anymore, but your Dolby 5.1 system tells you heâs trying to get behind you. You quickly face the direction the sound is coming from, you see the scumbag trying to make a swing at your face, but you respond with your right bumper which tasers him, giving you enough time to end his miserable life.
There is this one chapter in the game which is just amazingly scary. I suggest you make sure you donât have a pacemaker, play at night, turn up the volume, kill all the lights and enter the chapter called âBartâs department storeâ. When playing this level you will get scared, you will shit your pants and you will have to pause it occasionally. Worst scene in the store is a corridor where you just know and feel what is going to happen and it still scares you stiff, and you’ll surely feel your heart in your throat after you’re done with that one. Words can not describe how amazingly well Monolith, the company behind this game have created such a great atmosphere.
As said before youâll have the ability to use investigation tools. With these tools you can analyse fingerprints, follow bloodtracks and some other stuff which will help you with unravel the mysteries in this game. Youâll get help from Rosa while doing this. Sheâs one of your colleagues who still believes in you and is helping you put together all the pieces. One of your tools has the ability to smell decaying flesh, and this is used sometimes for finding dead birds. These birds are scattered throughout the whole game, 6 for every chapter. You can obtain them to earn achievements and unlock extra content. There are also 3 metal plates hidden in every chapter, these can also be gathered for extra achievement points and unlockable content. Theyâre fairly easy to find but youâll have to look in every chamber and occasionally youâll have to slide a deskdrawer to the side to find one. Almost every plate is surrounded by drawings of eyes staring at you.
The game has some downsides as well. The biggest problem for me were the occasional frame drops. When youâre in a room that has all kinds of fancy lightning and your strolling around youâll notice the game will stutter a bit. Not that it makes it unplayable, but it can be a little annoying, especially for me since it was my first Xbox 360 game and I thought I had bought this godlike uber console with mad processing power. The second problem is the âmelee mayhem awardâ, this award seems to have a little bug in it. According to the description youâll only have to find all weapons but in practice youâll need to swing them as well. Youâll also need to play the game in the correct order to get this achievement, in contrary to the other achievements which can be obtained by playing the levels in random order. Also not a very big deal, only for achievement whores. The third and most important problem is the game doesnât have any lasting appeal. Youâll only need about 10-15 hours to complete this game on your first run, but after that thereâs not much left to do except getting all of the achievements or try to get on top of the leaderboards by killing the most guys.
Especially with its low price, I’d recommend you buy this game immediately if youâre into horror games. The story, although a bit short has some nice plot twists and thereâs enough action to keep you busy between the moments where youâre refreshing your pants because of the scary stuff. Combined with the atmospheric visuals and the superb sound this game is still one of the best games around on the Xbox 360.
Final Score: 9 out of 10 - Very Good (how do we rank games?)