Condemned 2: Bloodshot Review

Formats: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Available: Now

Can you take the fear?  Are you 18?  Those are just two of the questions I’d ask you before you consider picking up the prequel to one of the scariest (and downright sinister) games that have ever been released – especially on the Xbox 360.  The reason I ask those questions is that there’s no doubt that Condemned 2 doesn’t let up – just as the first didn’t.  That means there’s a very good reason for that 18 certificate on the box.

In one way, I’m actually quite glad that games like Condemned 2 are appearing on consoles – I feel that finally we’re starting to see developers and publishers willing to take the leap – to make games that are made for and cater specifically to an adult audience who are more mature in their outlook.

So, let’s get down to it.  The original game (Condemned: Criminal Origins) was developed by Monolith productions and published by Sega.  It had a heavy emphasis on melee combat, as well as CSI-style puzzle sections that had the player using fingerprint, blood spatter and other analysis to solve the crime.  The character played in the game is an Ethan Thomas, who belongs to an agency investigating serial killings.  Unfortunately, something very odd is turning people into violent killers.

The second game takes off right where the first finished, putting you once again in control of Ethan Thomas.  Unfortunately his life took a turn for the worse after the original, making him descend into homelessness and alcoholism (no surprise, given the horrors and the weirdness that came about, along with the hints of him having psychic powers).  Once again, you’re driven to find out more about the mystery – what is causing people to attack each other and go insane?

I don’t really want to give away much more about the plot, simply because it is rather contrived but not just that – it is meant to be somewhat of a mystery.  If you’ve played through it, much like the first, it doesn’t make full sense anyway.  What I really enjoyed about the game though is the atmosphere.  The graphics and sound are just about on par with anything else out there.  If you’ve got an HD TV and surround sound you are genuinely in for a treat from this scare-fest.

The gameplay remains largely similar to the original
, with a few notable exceptions.  First is the way in which guns are handled – as you play through you’ll discover they have more of a role (though by far not as much as the melee weapons still), though you’ll not be able to carry more than one clip and you’ll be picking up bullets to refill it.  You can still pick up just about any visible weapon that you come across (including those that enemies drop), but you’ll have access to quick-time deaths such as smashing their heads against walls or kneeing them in the face.  The last change to the combat sequences is the hand-to-hand.  You’ll be facing opponents without a weapon in your hand, but luckily Ethan is pretty handy at this now.

A big change to the game is the level of involvement of the CSI-style investigation sequences.  They are much more fleshed out from the first game and you’ll see that you get bonus points and potentially extra kit from completing them.  They are something a little different to the usual ‘open the door puzzles’ that you see in FPS games.   As such, it’s certainly worth the time it takes to complete them.

The thing that you’ll probably like least about the game is the somewhat laggy
– and I have to say unnecessary – multiplayer aspect of the game.  Whilst the first person makes a lot of sense and is genuinely fun to play, the multiplayer seems to be tacked on in the same way that Metroid Prime 2‘s was.  It does leave you asking what the point is, but I’m sure you’ll still have a go just to try it out.

All in, Condemned 2: Bloodshot is certainly worth a play.  Few games on the market have as carefully crafted an atmosphere or satisfying combat scheme.  You won’t have played as bizarre an FPS with a melee slant unless you’ve tackled the first – in which case you’ll be dying (pardon the pun!) to play this.  I’d certainly recommend it as one of the better FPS horror  games.

8/10.

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