Publisher/ Sega, Developer/ Monolith, Genre/Adventure, Players/1, Xbox Live/ Yes, HD/720p
Condemned was to be one of the first "horror" games released for the Xbox 360. Although originally deemed an adventure game, after being viewed at E3 2005 the genre of horror stuck. The game begins with you, an FBI agent, arriving at a murder scene with a cop. The murder scene itself is like something from the Silence of the Lambs as a manakin is positioned at a table having dinner with the murder victim sitting opposite in an evening dress. The game makes extreme use of light effects to boost the eerie atmsophere of the murder scene, your torchlight spills over the scene making it horribly realistic. To start with the game gives you the chance to try out some of the essential items you are equipped with. You are always equipped with a number of forensic equipment used to trace blood and find out cause of death and the like. You soon learn the woman was strangle to death after using thermal imaging to locate fingerprints on the neck. This creepy opening was to be the start to one of the most realistically feasible games ever released. the storyline is that you are tracking a serial killer who kills other serial killers e.g. the matchmaker and the torturer. Unfortunately the killer shot two cops with your gun so don't expect aid from the FBI who are hunting you. the enemy AI, it is not odd in this game for one of the many criminals to leg it when he sees you armed with .45 pistol unlike most games when an enemy will try take you on. Most horrifyingly though enemies will size you up, they may look around, drop their stick and rip a pipe off the wall more to batter you with. They work together and hide in the shadows stalking you through levels. Sometimes you will find them kicking cans out in front of you to distract you while another bloke sneaks up behind you only to whack you with a power conduit. The game makes great use of block and parry and learning to block is a major part of the game. unlike most fps type games you cannot turn around in a split second, the developers have taken into account that the character is human and it does take him time to turn, run, climb .With short reserves of ammo it is usually best to block a hit and whack a criminal with the butt of your gun. The enemies will lose teeth and bruise and receive deep cuts.
This is where the graphics come in. The developers have made great use of the silicon looking graphics seen in Chronicles of Rid!@#$: Escape from Butcher Bay or Doom. Great effort has gone into facial expression to make enemies look as mean as possible, quite possibly the scariest of them are the enemies that stand in the shadows with a neutral expression and an axe in their hand. Levels have been made to look as uninviting (in a good way) as possible with dark corners and flickering lights. It has to be said that the gameplay and graphics go hand in hand.
Music was not really implemented in this game as you need to be constantly on the alert for any sound. The accidental kick of a crate, crashing around from overhead or heavy breathing. Only one level included any real music and that was the shopping centre with the horrible, twisted christmas music blaring out.
I do feel however that some kind of multiplayer option should have been introduced, possibly a co-operative or counter-operative mode so you can take the melee combat against your mates. Also it would have been better if not every single level was dark and dank, this meant all combat was by torchlight which became a little tiresome towards the end. The game was quite short and a little too scripted (events are predetermined). However, there is a lot of replay value with items to be collected and achievements to be unlocked. Ending the game with a brilliant twist (which I won't ruin) this has to be one of the best games out for the launch and it was a pleasure to play.
This review is Copyright © 2006 by Iroquois Pliskin for NuneWorld. All rights reserved
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