Condemned

Condemned was one of those premiere games on the 360. There was other more prominent first person games such as Perfect Dark Zero and Call of Duty, but Condemned was the one that really showcased the 360 graphically. It was graphically superior to all other launch titles, had a very dark setting, and included its fair share of gore. My roommate, Tyson, picked it up and I watched him play through the first couple chapters and it seemed like that's all this game was. Your typical dark, gory first-person game that showcased the 360.

Today, some people still regard it as one of the 360's top 10 games. "Is this the same game?" I thought. "The same game that tries to be scary and edgy, but is really just a hodge-podge of sew together predictable plot devices we've seen in so movies B movies.. This game is a top 10 360 title?" Well, it just so happens that this launch title was on clearance at Target for a mere $15. Eh.. why the hell not.

Well, unfortunately Target didn't have any copies.. In fact, I don't think any of the Targets in Madison actually have any clearance games at all. I remembered that Gamestop had some sort of sale back in May or June where this game was $20, so I went over there.

I remember correctly, but they, too, were out of new copies of Condemned. They had plenty of used copies though for $25. "What the..? Is this right?" I asked a nearby employee. "Yes actually. We're out of new copies of Condemned, which we sold for $20. However, we have plenty of used copies.. In fact.. 10.. 11.. 12.. We have about 12 copies used for the low low price of $25. It's really kind of odd. Apparently suckers, i mean, gamers tend to buy used copies of 360 games more than new copies, so we try to keep a good stock of used games. In fact, occasionally we open up new copies and mark them as used."

O_o.. "maybe it's because new copies of most 360 games are $60 which is entirely too high to ask your average gamer to pay for games.. why would i pay $25 for a used copy of the game, when i can buy a new copy of the game for $20?"

"well.. we're out of new copies of the game."

"ugh.. whatever, i don't really care. I just want to give the game a chance." For some reason, that little voice in head that calls me an idiot took a break. I could have just rented the game for $8 at blockbuster, or possibly even bought an extremely cheap copy of the game from there too. Oh well.. my completest collector instincts took over and thought that i'd probably end up liking this game, so i probably want to own it. (and) Gamestop used copies (which are probably new copies opened up to look like used copies) are in much better condition than a worn out Blockbuster used copy which has had countless diseased hands touching and groping it throughout the past year and a half.

Well, i suppose i am pretty glad i picked up the game because it's not all bad.. it actually has some very nice points to it, but is riddled with too many annoying things.

It begins..

You are Ethan Thomas, an FBI agent sent into investigate another serial killing in the futuristic damp dreary setting of Metro City. The city, itself, is overrun by jacked up thugs whose only release of sweet sweet violence, which has escalated 28 percent in the last year.

In the abandoned Weisman Office Building, there has been another killing in the Match Maker case. During the investigation, it just so happens that the killer is still in the building. In fact, you catch him escaping to the upper floors. You and your partner take off in opposite directions to capture him.

This is all going on during the first chapter of the game by the way, so technically these would be spoilers. Everything in the first chapters sets the story for the rest of the game when the chapters concludes. You corner the killer, but he over powers you. Takes your gun. Kills your partner and a police man. Then throws you out the window down 4 or 5 stories into a dumpster.

Bad luck, huh? Well the bureau happens to think the killer was never present in the building. They pin the murders of your partner and police officer on you, and you must escape from the law, while solving the crime and catching the real killer.

How to play..

Condemned is your typical first-person shooter-like game, except guns are not your primary weapon of attack. Melee weapons you can find all over the environment are your main sources of attack.

Grip #1: You can only have one weapon at a time.

Most things you can find lying around, you can walk up to and grab using the A button. (a little icon will appear when you can do this.) Some weapons are better than others, which you can compare in a little tool tip box that appears in the upper right hand corner. However, there are some weapons you need in order to progress through the level. You need a fire-ax to chop through some wooden doors. A crobar can pry open weapon cabinets. A shovel can destroy panels of electrically locked doors. And the good 'ol fashion sledgehammer will break off pad locked doors.

When you get to a point where you need one of these weapons, you need to drop whatever kickass weapon you may already have. So i need to drop my sub-machine gun with 20 bullets, to pick up a slow-ass shovel that'll get me into a room with 4 or 5 more enemies. This is a good idea. I usually end up running back and picking up the weapon i had before.

Anyways..

Combat really isn't all that in-depth. You have a block and you have an attack. Blocking attacks give you the opportunity to land quick counter-blows.

You also have a very handy taser, which conviently stuns enemies long enough to render dead with a shovel and not even have to worry about blocking or combat in general. Your taser takes a little while to power up though, so you cannot spam enemies with it.

I usually taser an enemy, grab their weapon from them, and kill them on the next blow with their own weapon. Then pick up the weapon I dropped and continue on my merry fugitive way.

Evidence tracking and gathering..

Something Condemned does have going for it is finding and examining evidence. Hell.. you are a forensics officer. You have equipment to track blood, take blood samples, look for other clues and take photographs. You send all this stuff back to your friend at the bureau's lab. Luckily, she trusts that you are innocent.

Going around tracking clues is fairly linear though. There are no side quests where you might find another murder, or solve another crime. Everything you find builds your case proving your innocence and tracking the real killer.

Graphics..

The other thing condemned actually does have going for it are the overly detailed graphics. You can really tell that this was the #1 priority for Condemned. It is certainly one of the prettiest games I have seen on the 360.

Why do people love this game?

Ultimately though, what really makes this game great is the creepy dark setting. You never once see daylight in Metro City. Everything either takes place underground with the absence of light, or outside during nightfall. Never once does your character experience the sun.

Hmmm... come to think of it.. this is actually a pretty clever trick to make the graphics artificially feel better. The game has an incredible amount of detail, but there's no way you could pack this detail in a wide landscape. I don't think you ever see any more than 40 feet in front of you.

Anyways, the darkness plays trick on you. I mean, how is walking around in the dark with a bunch of jacked-up creeps with a taste for blood NOT scary? And they love to jump out at you when you least expect. It really keeps you on the edge of your seat and quite entertained, much like Silent Hill or Resident Evil.

One of the best scenes of the game is the abandoned mall. by the way, every place that you go to in Condemned is some abandoned building. An office building, the library, a school, subway station, the mall... It wouldn't be creepy and full of hostiles if they weren't abandoned, right?

Anyways, the mall is all decked out for Christmas, but probably last year's Christmas.. or maybe the year before. Various presents are found across the floor. Piles of garbage collect in the corner. Many displays have been shattered with the Mannequins inside beginning to decay. All the while, you can make out a faint scratchy Christmas song over the intercom to wish you a Merry Christmas.

This is the fifth chapter in the game, so you've gotten to the point where you are really into the game. You know how to play and what to expect from the game, but this brings the whole level up a notch. Especially when you finally come across the enemies. I won't spoil that..

The story..

The story itself is alright, but hardly pays off. It reminds me of Zone of the Enders 1, where this game was meant to start off a whole franchise of story-concluding properties in the future. I suppose, Matrix 1 was the same way. "Well crap, we have way too much story to cram into one game. We can't possibly introduce this world, create a compelling story, and conclude everything we start in one shot. Let's put out what we have and create the definite game of the series at a later date. We just need to get this one out now."

There's something to be said about this style of production. I mean, how can you cram the entire story of a world into a game and still make it suspenseful and compact? RPGs have been doing it quite well, but developers are under the impression that the average games does NOT want to spend 40, 60, or 80 hours on a single game. You think maybe that's because you've stereotyped gamers into ADD children that want nothing but action?

It does make for a nice compact property though. One game here, one game there. Two stories in the same environment. One that introduces us to the world, and one later that tears down that world and ties up all the lose ends.

Of course, I feel sorry for the sucker that pays $60 for each game in the series.

#1 Grip: The biggest absolute worst thing about the game is it's attempt to be linear at the very end. Spoiler: when you reach the end you are presented with the choice of killing the real killer, or not killing him. Its a tough decision that the game gives you 5 seconds to make up your mind. Don't worry though. Whether you kill him or not, does not change the actual ending. Stupidest thing I have ever heard in my life.

Overall, though..

.. Condemned is semi-short game that has some unique characteristics in a very very overdone style. Do we really need another first person game on the xbox platform? Is this game good enough that I can say it was well worth it to even produce in the first place?

Yeah, I guess so. It definitely has its moments. But there are so many other better first person games out there I probably should have played first. I still haven't played Doom 3, or Half-life 2.

I guess the real test will be the sequel coming out this fall, which was another reason why I wanted to play this game sooner rather than later.

If Condemned 2 fixes the really annoying things about Condemned 1 and fully explains why the birds were dying and puts closure on the madness that engulfs Metro City.. and its not some stupid retarded explanation.. Then I would say that playing these games isn't a waste of time.

Condemned, on its own, is okay. If you like first person games, you'd probably like this. If you like spooky scary games, you'd probably like this. If you don't like either of these types of games, then you probably won't like this.

Overall, i like it.. pretty much for the same reason explained in the 'why people like this game' section of this article.




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