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Condemned: Criminal Origins

aka: Condemned, Condemned: Psycho Crime

[ All ] [ Windows ] [ Xbox 360 ] [ Xbox One ]

Critic Reviews 81% add missing review

Gameinatrix (10 out of 10)

This week I reviewed Condemned: Criminal Origins from Sega for the PC. Condemned is a first person shooter that trades in its guns in exchange for the caress of a cold lead pipe. In condemned you play Ethan Thomas. Ethan has been falsely accused of killing two fellow police officers who were working with him while he was trying to solve several grisly murders. Ethan was framed by the very serial killer he has been trying to capture. Now everyone but a forensic scientist believes he is guilty. In order to clear his name and catch the man responsible Ethan must fight his way through crack addicts, bums and monsters who are all out to kill him and gather evidence that will clear his name.

Jun 28th, 2006 · Windows · read review

Gamezoom (92 out of 100)

Wer die Filme Seven und SAW gemocht hat, der wird Condemned (zumindest von der Story her) auf jeden Fall lieben. Grafisch und Soundtechnisch steht das Spiel den älteren F.E.A.R. in nichts nach und bis auf kleinere K.I.-Schnitzer könnte das neue Sega-Game fast als zweiter Teil des Horror-Shooters durchgehen. Condemned bietet viele nette Ideen und fast alle davon wurden gut ins Gameplay verpackt. Einzig die Kämpfe gegen die Mutanten können auf Dauer etwas nerven, vor allem wenn man keine starke Waffen zuhanden hat.

May 8th, 2006 · Windows · read review

GotNext ( )

But what Condemned does, it does very well. The gritty atmosphere, the tense paranoia, and the absolutely brutal combat are all top-notch. The amazingly creepy environments that wowed on the 360 are just as impressive here, and the FPS-style keyboard and mouse control scheme fits the action perfectly. Some might not be satisfied by the story, which ends darkly and ambiguously in the classic horror tradition. Some might wish there was more real detective work to do. But those that came for the thrills and the screams will find one of the scariest and most intense game experiences out there.

May 5th, 2006 · Windows · read review

Atomic Gamer (90 out of 100)

Its brutal, in-your-face action will make you cringe, while the creepy atmosphere will have your heart fluttering as you wonder what's around that next corner. Even the hardened veterans of the world's best horror games will find this to be a fine addition to their collection.

May 1st, 2006 · Windows · read review

Playback (9 out of 10)

Podsumowując, czy warto zagrać w Condemned:Criminal Origins? Ja osobiście uważam, że jak najbardziej warto, lecz nie mam najmniejszej chęci wrócić tam z powrotem.. wystarczy mi to, co już zobaczyłem. Choć nie ukrywam, że dodatek przywitam z otwartymi ramionami. Niskie wymagania w zamian za wspaniałą grafikę, duża ilość innowacji, wspaniale zrobione walki czy sugestywny klimat to elementy, dzięki którym Condemned zdecydowanie wyróżnia się na tle innych gier. Nie jest oczywiście projektem doskonałym, lecz na tyle dobrym, ze amatorzy mocnych wrażeń nie będę żałowali ani chwili spędzonej z tą produkcją.

Jun 2006 · Windows · read review

Cheat Code Central (4.4 out of 5)

CCO has all of the gameplay, story, visuals and atmosphere that you could possibly want in a mystery game and I think does them all to a proverbial "t". It's not the longest game you'll have ever played the first time through (10 hours or so), but since it offers a selection of difficulty modes, the robust roster of collectibles which unlock movies that shed more light on just the hell is going on and rewards you for meeting various objectives, there is a decent dose of replay value. Monolith is definitely onto something and I can see Condemned: Criminal Origins becoming a franchise along the lines of Silent Hill featuring changing protagonists. If you've already played CCO on the X360, there is absolutely no reason to return again. But if you're a thrillseeker who isn't afraid of things that scream in the darkness, you just found your next challenge.

Apr 12th, 2006 · Windows · read review

ComputerGames.ro (88 out of 100)

Even though the beginning is a little slow, the second half is downright exhilarating and the ending is a bit surprising as well.

May 15th, 2006 · Windows · read review

Gameplay (Benelux) (86 out of 100)

Dit spel is niet voor iedereen weggelegd, maar in z'n genre zeker een topper. Een aanrader voor horrorfanaten!

Apr 28th, 2006 · Windows

Game Freaks 365 (8.5 out of 10)

In the end, the slow pacing might turn off gamers looking for a straightforward shooter. The game isn't very long, either. Including all of the deaths and retries that I had during the game, I finished the adventure in about eleven hours. There aren't any other gameplay modes, so once you've finished the single-player game, you've experienced everything Condemned has to offer. Does this make it a bad game? No. Is it still worth buying? I'd say so, especially if you're a fan of this type of game. If you like to breathe heavily and feel your heart pound, this is definitely the game for you. The story will captivate you and the ending will have you excited for more. The unique gameplay, thrilling story, and disturbing graphics make Monolith's Condemned: Criminal Origins worth playing, and as an Xbox 360 launch title, it's one of the top five in my book.

2005 · Windows · read review

Worth Playing (8.5 out of 10)

Forgive the lack of variety and sometimes-baffling storyline, and Condemned is a brilliant undertaking.

May 5th, 2006 · Windows · read review

Computer and Video Games (CVG) (8.5 out of 10)

As long as you're not some kind of hippy who abhors violence, besides the slightly repetitive level design, the game is a masterpiece of nerve-jangling tension the first time round. However, the linear levels, short length (ten hours of play), story that's never fully explained and lack of multiplayer don't offer much in the way of replay value.

May 31st, 2006 · Windows · read review

PC Powerplay (85 out of 100)

Bei keinem anderen Spiel habe ich vor Anspannung ständig mit den Füßen gewippt, noch nie bin ich so konzentriert durch dunkle Gewölbe geschlichen. Condemned stellt in Sachen Mittendrin-Gefühl alles in den Schatten. Heruntergekommene Schauplätze, eine alles verschlingende Finsternis, durchgeknallte Drogenjunkies - die Atmospähre hat mich schlichtweg vom Hocker gehauen. So viel Spaß mir das Gruseln auch macht, die lahme Spurensuche hat mich enttäuscht. Das war beim nächsten Schlagabtausch aber wieder vergessen, denn die Kämpfe spielen sich phantastisch. Wenn Sie schockgeprüfte Nerven haben, dann müssen Sie Condemned kaufen. Mein Tipp: nachts im stockdunklen Kämmerchen spielen.

Mar 29th, 2006 · Windows

IGN (8.5 out of 10)

If you're looking for a game that you can spend many hours on in single and multiplayer, this isn't for you but if you're looking for a terrifically creepy single-player game with brutal action thrown right in your face, Condemned is the goods.

Apr 11th, 2006 · Windows · read review

Absolute Games (AG.ru) (84 out of 100)

Я не зря помянул «старшего брата» Condemned. Меняя декорации с каждой новой главой, она перешагнула через старые грабли однообразия… и угодила в капкан с наклейкой «Интерактивность». Падающие бутылки, разлетающиеся картонные коробки, бьющееся стекло — предел возможностей обоих отпрысков Monolith. Им остро недостает «casual physics» — взаимодействия всех без исключения предметов, или, по крайней мере, более добросовестного подхода к дизайну. Чертовски здорово, что тут не взрываются бочки, но зачем их наполнили бетоном и приклеили к полу? Почему книги в библиотеке не летят со стола и почему сам стол не желает сдвигаться даже на миллиметр?

Apr 21st, 2006 · Windows · read review

Gameguru Mania (84 out of 100)

Overall this game has exceeded my expectations. I loved playing F.E.A.R and this one from Monolith doesn't disappoint either. These Monolith guys know how to make a game look exceptional and with a high powered card you can smell the sewers it's that real looking. Top notch work guys. I'm looking forward to a sequel! If you can stomach the violence, and have a decent enough PC to run it, by all means, get this game.

Apr 26th, 2006 · Windows · read review

Game Chronicles (8.3 out of 10)

Condemned: Criminal Origins combines a visceral atmosphere; both auditorily and visually, that really does a bang-up job of immersing you into the world of Ethan Thomas. However, this is not the easiest game to pick up and just play on a Sunday afternoon.

Apr 11th, 2006 · Windows · read review

Gamers.at (83 out of 100)

Wer sich auf die Macht seiner Instinkte einlässt, läuft Gefahr die Kontrolle über sich zu verlieren. Monolith's neuestes Werk "Condemned: Criminal Origins" spielt mit der Kraft von Hass und Wut und ist mit Sicherheit nichts für schwache Nerven. Wir haben uns dieser waghalsigen Kombination geöffnet - lesen Sie selbst ob wir sie auch (psychisch) überstanden haben...

Mar 28th, 2006 · Windows · read review

FileFactory Games / Gameworld Network (82 out of 100)

Condemned combines inventive melee-based game play and a real life horror theme to create a terrifyingly gritty, crime themed action game.

Apr 26th, 2006 · Windows · read review

GameSpot (8.1 out of 10)

Condemned's success in delivering the best-looking first-person melee combat of any game to date is truly admirable, along with its unusual premise. It's just that the longer you play, the more you'll wish that there were more substance to the experience. Fortunately, the game's main area of focus is executed on incomparably well, and it's thrilling for a good while, if not all the way to the bitter end.

Apr 11th, 2006 · Windows · read review

Deaf Gamers (8 out of 10)

Condemned on the PC is just as an intimidating experience as it was on the Xbox 360. With a high-end PC you can have the game looking pretty much the same too. The problems that the Xbox 360 version had are still here though. The disorientating level design and the lack of captions are the major problems. I'm pretty sure most will appreciate the quicksave option that has been added but in some ways it strips some of the fear factor from the game. Overall though it's the same tense action horror game that you won't want to play just before you go to bed and if the survival horror genre is to your liking and you didn't experience the game on the Xbox 360, now's definitely the time to do so.

2006 · Windows · read review

Jeuxvideo.com (16 out of 20)

Condemned puise dans les bas-fonds de nos peurs les plus primaires : la peur du noir, la peur de ce qu'on ne voit pas, et la peur de ce qui pousse des cris bizarres. Cette atmosphère pestilentielle et horrifiante enverrait au tapis les ténors du survival horror, en particulier quand on la couple à la violence des combats. Dommage cependant que le gameplay soit aussi tristement dirigiste, Monolith ne laissant pas la moindre initiative au joueur.

Apr 24th, 2006 · Windows · read review

DreamStation.cc (8 out of 10)

Sega did a great job with Condemned: Criminal Origins and I hope they do a follow up to this game. The one downside of the game is it was very short. Ten chapters sounds like a lot, but you can easily finish this game in 10 to 15 hours with no problem. I thought the gameplay worked well and was nice for a change from the run and gun games that are out. Sega did a great job with the sound by not adding anything that was not needed. If you would like to play a game that keeps you on the edge of your seat then Condemned: Criminal Origins is the game for you, but make sure your heart can take it.

May 3rd, 2006 · Windows · read review

ActionTrip (80 out of 100)

Overall, however, Condemned seems like a good buy, or a rental at least. Performance-wise, it is a hardware hog, and this seems even less justified than in F.E.A.R., where the special effects seemed beefier and more spectacular. If you are looking for a good survival horror title with a unique twist, however, I definitely recommend this one. It's not the second coming or anything, but it's good enough to surprise you in more ways than one.

Apr 19th, 2006 · Windows · read review

GameSpot (Belgium/Netherlands) (80 out of 100)

Condemned slaagt bewonderenswaardig goed in het neerzetten van een bloederig hand-to-hand combatspel, en ziet er nog eens fantastisch uit ook. Maar je zal merken dat je na een tijdje op je honger blijft zitten, wegens teveel van hetzelfde. Als je er toch in slaagt om je tot het einde te knokken, dan heb je een spannend en ietwat vreemd verhaal achter de rug waar je waarschijnlijk niet meer terug aan zal beginnen. Er zijn een paar extra's die je kan unlocken, maar die zijn amper het vermelden waard.

Apr 19th, 2006 · Windows · read review

videogamer.com (8 out of 10)

Condemned delivers an experience that's worlds apart from what is usually on offer for PC gamers. At its core it's about as simple as a game could be, but it's presented in such a deranged and immersive way that it's hard not to get caught up in it all.

Apr 12th, 2006 · Windows · read review

1UP (8 out of 10)

The survival horror genre, popularized by Japanese originators like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, is one characterized by limitations. As fear is derived from helplessness, survival horror titles design through restrictions as a check and balance to your gaming prowess. The age-old formula isn't exactly subtle, nor is it hard to spot; in a survival horror adventure, player movement is more sluggish and encumbered, ammunition and health packs are sparse, and inventory is always a tough choice between necessity and luxury. In that sense, developer Monolith's Xbox 360 debut, Condemned: Criminal Origins, falls almost too neatly into a survival horror niche -- only this time, the terror is from a perspective the developer knows best: up-close and personal first-person g(l)ory.

Apr 18th, 2006 · Windows · read review

GameZone (8 out of 10)

Have you ever sat around and wondered what it would be like to be a detective? You know … go out on the crazy back streets of a major city investigating crimes and hanging out in the dark and seedy corners of the earth looking to take out the dark criminal element of society? Now, have you also ever sat around and wondered what it would be like to haul off and drill someone across the face with some heavy blunt object to see what it would do to them? Well, if you answered “yes” to both of these questions … you’re in luck! Sega has taken a left turn into a dark, creepy, crime infested world with it’s newest entry to the PC world with Condemned : Criminal Origins which allows you to search for clues, try to track a nasty serial killer, and kill lots of crackhead-like criminals hellbent on taking you down and probably doing some really disgusting things to you.

May 5th, 2006 · Windows · read review

GameSpy ( )

The gameplay in Condemned: Criminal Origins can feel a bit repetitive and simplistic at times, and the ending is a letdown, but it's the type of game you play more for the emotional rush. And Condemned offers just that: a rush of horror and brutality from the start, grabbing you by the throat, tossing you into the abyss, and laughing as you try to claw your way back out.

May 3rd, 2006 · Windows · read review

JeuxVideoPC.com (16 out of 20)

A l’origine, Condemned est sorti comme jeu de lancement de la Xbox 360. Remportant un certain succès sur la console de Microsoft, il a été porté sur PC par Monolith, un studio assez ancien dans le développement de jeux vidéo, qui s'est illustré avec des titres comme Blood & Blood 2, No one lives forever 1 & 2, Tron 2.0, Alien vs Predator 2 et l’excellent F.E.A.R.. Tel le jury de la Nouvelle Star, Monolith semble chercher à ne produire que des jeux ayant un univers et une ambiance propre, un peu plus profonde que ce à quoi le genre des FPS nous a habitué.

May 8th, 2006 · Windows · read review

Gamers' Temple, The (78 out of 100)

Like the story, there are some cool ideas here but they’re not built upon enough to make a truly great game. You’ll probably enjoy the first part of the game as long as you can stomach the premise and the violence, but soon after that the repetition will begin to set in and you’ll be disappointed that there’s not more to it.

2006 · Windows · read review

Game Shark (B)

If you have the muscle to run it at high detail and don’t mind a good horror romp with a nice blend between difficulty, action, and storytelling, then this is one game that can definitely deliver, and is unquestionably “the best hobo-murdering sim of 2006”, as many call it.

May 4th, 2006 · Windows · read review

3DAvenue ( )

It has its faults, but Condemned is still a game that will surprise a few people, even if it's only because of its differences to most FPS games. While it is effectively "yet another FPS", it manages to separate itself from the norm with its approach. This isn't a run-n-gun type of FPS, it is an FPS that will have you creeping around quietly and cautiously, while you nervously check your anemic ammo supply around every corner, looking swiftly behind you to see if that rolling tin trash can was the result of an oversized rat, or a stalking drugged out psycho planning an attack, even if you as the gamer has no idea why it is everyone wants to kill you.

Apr 25th, 2006 · Windows · read review

TTGamer (7 out of 10)

Unfortunately, what makes Condemned unique is also its downfall at times - the immersive environments are great at first and the down to earth approach to combat offers an initial unique challenge, but after a while, running around the same rooms and hallways killing random baddies the same way each time has its limited appeal, and the investigative aspects of the game are hardly going to offer much of a challenge to anyone. With that said, Condemned is probably best enjoyed in short stints of gameplay at a time, even if it is an odd mix of stimulating storyline, boring investigations and almost completely irrelevant mindless combat.

Apr 25th, 2006 · Windows · read review

GamePro (US) (3.5 out of 5)

Condemned: Criminal Origins wants so badly to be Seven: The Video Game, it's almost embarrassing at times. The opening scenes show a flickering, grainy montage of over-exposed police memos (with words like "mutilation" and "extremely dangerous" placed oh-so-prominently) and a scattered collection of crime scene photos. Meanwhile, the audio track pumps out an array of frantic rustling, tapping, and muffled moaning. It's so damn edgy, it's almost trite -- what you might get if David Fincher and Trent Reznor decided they just had to collaborate on a video game.

May 17th, 2006 · Windows · read review

Game Critics (6.5 out of 10)

Condemned provides players with some of the creepiest imagery ever to appear in a video game, along with some truly tedious combat and enough concentrated human misery to darken even the most radiant heart. While by no means a terrible game, and not even a bad one, this is a game designed to increase the overall amount of sadness in the world, and for that reason alone, and despite its many high points, I can't recommend that anyone play it. Ever.

May 31st, 2006 · Windows · read review

Gaming since 198x (3 out of 5)

Trouvable à 10 Euros voire moins, Condemned reste un jeu d'ambiance plutôt prenant, mais on reste sur sa faim, en attendant le prochain !

Feb 27th, 2008 · Windows · read review

Eurogamer.net (UK) (6 out of 10)

There's not much point in my getting too deeply into how the tension is kept nice and high, the grit of why the 'investigative instincts' don't really work, and how the whole thing plays too simply...

Apr 23rd, 2006 · Windows · read review

Computer Gaming World (CGW) N/A

1 UP.com scored Condemned’s Xbox 360 version an 8.5 out of 10—which, to me, feels high for this PC port. Maybe it’s just that it pales (in both the gameplay and the graphics) next to Monolith’s previous PC games—F.E.A.R., Tron, and No One Lives Forever. Maybe it’s the annoyingly incomplete story line. (Just what is my connection to the killer? And what’s the deal with the dead birds?) Still, the atmosphere is great, and we never get good survival-horror games on the PC, so maybe I should just shut up and stop complaining. Kill the homeless!

Jul 2006 · Windows

Player Reviews

An incredibly effective mixture between gripping horror and smooth gameplay
by Slug Camargo (588)

The Good

Condemned: Criminal Origins tells the heart-breaking story of how the FBI is having a tremendous crisis regarding the hotness of their hottest hot-shot agents and they have to resort to some painfully mediocre jackasses to cover those positions. At least that's what one would infer from first 10 minutes of the game. Right off the bat, Ethan Thomas, our man inside the screen, needs to be steered in little baby-steps through a forensic investigation so basic you feel like screaming "Just take the stupid picture of that mutilated face, already, you moron!!!", gets fooled into venturing solo into the gaping mouth of a mad wolf that's an abandoned building crawling with demented junkies, falls into the most stupidly obvious ambush and gets his gun stolen, gets framed for the murder of two police officers (one of them is his boss, no less), and starts taking orders from some deranged-looking character he sort of thinks he vaguely remembers having seen during his childhood.

And then the game starts. Hey, game, is it too late to switch sides? I don't have a good feeling about how my team will make with such a player...

But wait!!! WAIT, WAIT, WAIT!!! don't be so quick to dismiss this game yet! The story can get silly at times, and Ethan sure counts among the dumbest jackasses in gaming history, but there's plenty of good stuff to say. Let's see.

Well, the first point that raises eyebrows everywhere is undoubtedly that thing about the combat being exclusively melee-based. In a first-person perspective game. That can't possibly work, right? I mean, we've actually seen that before, and we know that, in a FPS game, melee combat is something you fall back to when you're just one step above completely lost, and it's always a pain in the ass... However, lo and behold, I found this system to work unexpectedly well and had no problem getting used to it within minutes. And, within some more minutes, I was actually enjoying it.

Here's how the invention goes: With the right mouse button you block incoming attacks for a fraction of a second, and with the left mouse button you attack. A successful block makes your enemy bounce back and leaves him momentarily open for a hit. All of that applies equally for both player and enemies. And that's about it. It's pretty much all about timing those movements correctly: If you fail at successfully blocking or you bounce back at an enemy block, there's a high chance you're gonna get your ass kicked. And Ethan can't take too many hits before going down for good, either.

All that might sound hard, I know it immediately made me think of Prince of Persia, which has a similar feature and it's nearly impossible to time it correctly, but fortunately in Condemned there's a somewhat generous time frame for every action and reaction inside which you can act, so you don't need a strict clockwork-precision. But still, you do need to stay on your toes. And because of that, the very combat system is probably the main atmosphere-building factor. The thing is, this rather constricting system forces you to be on edge at all times and, adding that to the creepy flashlight-lit visuals and the unnerving, Silent Hill-esque soundscape, Condemned ends up being one of the top-3 out-and-out scariest games I've ever played; the other two being Silent Hill 1 and Silent Hill 3, in case you're wondering. Actually, in my eye, this game gives both of them a run for their money because it manages to immerse you in a tense, creepy atmosphere in which you feel overpowered by your foes (only not through the use of a crappy combat interface you'll avoid as much as possible, but rather one that's as challenging as it is enjoyable), and you're not only scared because the visuals or the sound are eerie on their own, but because at all times you know you're in actual danger, up-close and personal. And the first person perspective makes this sensation all the more palpable.

Other than the melee combat, Ethan has a taser gun that can stun -or even kill some- enemies at a distance (although you need to wait for it to recharge in order to take a second shot, so you should use it with caution) and a fairly powerful kick that pushes them back. There are some firearms to be found here and there, but they're scarce and they can't be reloaded. Actually, the "R" key -usually mapped for "reload"- is used to check how much ammo the current gun has left.

The fact that most of the weapons in the game are things like lead pipes, pieces of wood, bent rebars and such, which most of the times you either pick up from piles of garbage or even yank off the very scenery, helps a lot with the general sense of hopelessness that constantly haunts you while you navigate the desolated, derelict locations of the game.

The AI is something to be praised. Sort of. The thing is, if you pay close attention, you'll notice that the enemies have like 5 or 6 different behavior patterns and they just seem to choose them at random. However, not counting the moments when they run away in the middle of a fight and "hide" like 20 feet away in plain sight as if they were expecting to ambush you with that (WTF?), for the most part their behavior patterns complement each other so well that it actually looks like the enemies are being smart at fighting. The main problem is that you can make them fall in all sorts of really dumb traps too easily (including getting them to killing each other), with which the whole illusion falls apart. Still, they do have some neat moments, like this time I *thought* I heard footsteps nearby and I made a quick 180º turn, and I saw this sneaky motherf***er tip-toeing behind me!! --and then, just as we made eye contact and before I could react, he smashed my face with a lead pipe. That was a good one.

The design of the maps is especially commendable, in the sense that it's clever and complex enough as to give enemies plenty of opportunities to try and ambush you; again, helping with the whole stay-on-your-toes thing we've been talking about.

The story is not particularly complex or anything, but it's told in such a way that it comes out somewhat odd and worth of some analyzing. I especially liked how the very foundation of the plot constantly goes back and forth between whether you're just a FBI agent chasing a regular serial killer among a bunch of demented junkies (wich might or might not be associated in some way), or there's actually some supernatural threat underlying the whole thing. Even the ending is abstract enough so you can draw your own conclusions in that regard. While we're at it, it's almost mandatory to uncover as many bonus documents as possible (especially the Propaganda Reports you get by collecting metal plates), as there's information in them that will clear up a lot of things.

Being sort of a psychic, Ethan has frequent visions that give him clues regarding the recent activities of the serial killer (or is it killers? dun-dun-DUN!!!) he's chasing. These visions are represented by scripted scenes in which things turn all kinds of crazy, starting as brief flashbacks, and then escalating throughout the game until you find yourself playing in a warped version of the place you're in (something that reminds the "Reverse Side" of Silent Hill) and you start getting visions of what might or might not be future events. These sequences managed to catch me off-guard about 90% of the time and either made me jump on my seat or made my skin crawl for minutes on end until things returned to "normal" (and it's not like a derelict department store full of mannequins casting eerie shadows is a nice place to be back into, either). To be honest, most of these events, and particularly the special effects used in them, resemble those in F.E.A.R. just a little too much; but, overall, I found Condemned to be way more effective in the creeping-out dept.

There's a little thing I found worth mentioning and it's the, let's say, strange stylistic choices the designers made regarding the characters. To put it bluntly: They're ugly. It might sound trite and even a little stupid, but think about it: When was the last time you played a game in which the main character was a slightly overweighted latino? And how many times was your trusty female sidekick a black woman around her 50's? In a world where everyone seems to be either studs with tight shirts and perfect hairdos that made a career in the military before their mid-20's or hot chicks with gigantic breasts who wear minuscule thongs in sub-zero temperatures, playing a game starred by weary, old, ugly, normal people feels almost revolutionary.

The Bad

Pretty much every complaint I can make is related to the game's advertising blurb and how it goes from slyly misguiding to flat-out stinking lying. Let's see:

Next-generation lighting, mapping, and filtering techniques provide for environments of unprecedented detail and visual quality.

OK, I've had it up to here with bumb-mapping. I never found it especially attractive and I certainly can't understand what is it that makes most people love it so much, especially considering the brutal performance toll it takes when applied, but I finally reached a point in which I definitely hate it. Let's take a look at Condemned: At first sight, you might think it looks gorgeous. However, a closer investigation reveals this is yet another game whose nice looking is relying almost exclusively on a lot of bump-mapping over really, really ugly, blurry, little-if-at-all filtered textures. This makes the game tremendously power-hungry, and while for the most part it works fairly well, there are a bunch of cutscenes where some facial close-ups make painfully clear just how crappy the textures really are.

Engage in furious hand-to-hand combat.

The combat interface, as enjoyable as I think it is, could use some variety--OK. Let's rephrase that bit: The combat interface BEGS for some variety. Badly. You have four different Mortal Kombat-like coup-de-grace moves to finish a stunned enemy, but you get only one regular hitting movement. What the hell is that about? The hitting animation changes depending on the direction you're moving, true, but it's just a cosmetic change. The combat is as basic as they come, and, again, even though I did enjoy it a lot, it's so repetitive most people might find it tedious after a little while. At they very least, Condemned should have taken a clue from the simple yet tremendously effective combos in Chronicles of Riddick.

Use sophisticated forensic tools to investigate crime scenes and uncover evidence in this intense one-of-a-kind psychological thriller.

Ethan is somewhat of a forensic hot-shot, as I think I mentioned earlier, and as such the puzzles in the game promise a lot of CSI-like evidence gathering and examination. The problem here is that this enticing idea is ruined by the fact that the work is pretty much all done for you: The game practically steers you through the entire process, and it even chooses the right forensic tool in every situation. You have almost no saying in solving the puzzles, other than pointing the tool in the direction the game tells you to, and clicking a button. What could've been a nice, original type of puzzle becomes something that's so simplistic you can't help but feeling they're treating you like a moron.

A tightly wound story is backed with strong character development and major plot twists.

And speaking of morons, I found it really odd how the story is a rather challenging, at some points almost abstract bizarre where you need to put pieces together on your own and even unlock a number of bonus documents in order to get what the hell was that all about; and on the other hand the main character is astonishingly stupid, and he needs to have every single thing that happens spelled out for him, which most of the times results in characters over-explaining some really simple events, which just feels dumb.

High-level physics allow players to manipulate background items, which respond realistically when picked up, kicked, or bumped.

The game does feature a nice physics engine, but since the only way to interact with the environment is to hit or kick stuff, this point is pretty much irrelevant. And you don't even break stuff unless it serves a purpose in the game.

Stay alive using any weapon you can from firearms to lead pipes to whatever you can prey from the fully interactive environment.

Whoa, calm down there, marketing guy!!! OK, so you do improvise your arsenal by picking up stuff from the environment, but "fully interactive" -pardon my french- my f'ing ass: Before you're done through the second level you already know and can easily recognize which particular objects you can use as weapons, and not only they're always the same, there aren't too many of them either.

There are some particular objects such as axes, sledgehammers and crowbars which you not only can use as weapons, but they're also needed to clear up different kinds of obstructions. However, you'll probably want to drop them as soon as you've cleared your path, since they're so slow they're pretty much useless in combat and, while they are noticeably strong, some enemies can inexplicably resist being hit in the middle of the nose with an axe. Speaking of which, I don't know what the hell they were thinking when they included the firearms: Even though the models have localized damage and certain body zones are more vulnerable than others and whatnot, there are a couple of enemies that can take up to 5 shotgun blasts to the face at point blank range. That's impossibly retarded. If you don't want me killing your boss character with one hit, don't leave a shotgun laying around in the vicinity, dumbass.

The Bottom Line

It's been a while since a game doesn't give me the creeps like this one did. Games like Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth did have a really effective horror atmosphere, but this one surpassed pretty much everything I've played since the first and third Silent Hill's. I found myself genuinely scared when investigating certain areas. During my first playthrough I even avoided some rooms, the tension I was feeling was so strong. There's a level that takes place in an abandoned department store with a bunch of mannequins scattered here and there that really got to my nerves, especially when some of them start moving... As a fan of horror games, the shockingly effective atmosphere of Condemned alone grants it a honor seat among my all-time favorites.

The combat system is simplistic and repetitive, but it's also responsive and smooth enough as to get me to play the entire thing through all over again once I was done. Still, the ability to perform at least some basic combos would've been greatly appreciated.

The worst part of the game are undoubtedly the puzzles: The enticing promise of crime scene investigating armed with high-tech forensic tools translates into the most stupidly simplistic excuses for puzzles I've seen in quite some time.

All in all, I think Condemned is a great game. In a way, it reminds me of The Suffering, as both are equally effective at delivering a genuinely terrifying atmosphere and enjoyable gameplay, two things we rarely see coming together.

Apr 14th, 2007 · Windows

Condemned is Monolith's best game since NOLF 2, and is a unique gem of a game.
by Kaddy B. (795)

The Good
Next to ID software, Monolith is one of my favourite shooter game developers. From the brilliantly twisted Blood to the hilarious yet smart spy game No one Lives Forever 2 almost everything they have put out has been a hit in my eyes. Condemned is yet another smart game from the folks at Monolith with a unique style and gameplay.

What makes Condemned unique is that it is not a "shooter" in the traditional sense; you are rarely given ammo, and you only have access to one clip and you have to check your clip to know how much is left instead of having the leisure of a HUD for this. However, the environment is your weapon. Various objects around the world are weapons, and each of them have different stats that adds a layer of strategy. They all feel powerful and fun to use, combat is brutal and downright sick. Bash someone with a two by four and you'll see teeth flying out and them spitting blood before head butting you. You feel the intensity, but you aren't superman, so you are still vulnerable. You have to block and use combos as well in order to survive, and you have to always take into account the stats of your weapon.

The games plot is fascinating, compelling, smart, scary, and cool. There's a killer on the loose known as the Matchmaker, who sets up dates for women and men and lures them into a trap where they are murdered and then posed along with their "Date," a mannequin which is always missing a finger. The games box cover depicts one such murder, in which the victim was posed and bound in chains. Its a creepy scene and sends chills up your spine. You play as Ethan Thomas, an FBI agent who is hunting down the Matchmaker, but here in lies the rub: He ran in to a violent man who took his gun and shot another FBI agent in Ethan's premise, and the killer was wearing gloves.. That means the only fingerprints on the gun are Ethan's, so the FBI turns against him and Ethan has to run from the FBI and psychotic drug addicts as he attempts to get to the bottom of the matchmaker mystery, but the secrets and twists revealed are so much darker, twisted, and intelligent. Ethan is a great character, and the story will please fans of murder mysteries.

The lighting effects are moody, ambient, and very well done. They keep the game looking dark and spooky, and shadows will haunt you every step of the way.

The game is scary, really scary. The atmosphere will keep you on your toes, and the drug addicts you face are disturbing and surreal, all looking ill, diseased, which invokes a feeling of disgust and fear making them threatening. The AI is smart too, and you will have to use your basic survival skills to survive. The game gets under your skin with great mindfk scenes, incredible atmosphere, and jump scares, but it balances all 3 brilliantly. The mindfk scenes come at the least expected times and are unpredictable, the atmosphere keeps you on your toes and in the game at all times, and the jump scares aren't overused, in fact, there are very few scripted jump scares; leave that up to the AI, so the jump scares don't get repetitive or predictable, and can give you a vicious shock. This is one scary game, and considering that most American horror is stupid, that makes Condemned one of the few truly excellent American horror games. Horror fans looking for thrills, chills, and twisted insanity will be satiated. Even the fans of gore will.

The voice acting is excellent, and so are the sounds. Spooky sounds and gruesome screams are sure to add to the fear. Sounds are one of the most important things in a horror game, and if a horror game sounds scary, it can make up for many flaws.

The second to last level in the game is awesome, having you follow clever clues and REALLY thrusting you into an atmosphere of being alone in a house with a mass murderer is disturbing and awesome.

The Bad
The graphics are flawed. For the most part, they look great with great shadowing, special effects such as gore, depth of field, motion blur, and more but some environments are muddy and uninspired, as well as repetitious. Also, while I give an exception to the bad guys as I feel they were meant to be sub-human, most key characters barely look human and seem lumpy and plastic like which is quite poor.

For the most part, the story is awesome, but it has some big flaws particularly during and after the climax. Most of the game takes place in reality and you will never run into many supernatural elements save for the twisted looking enemies and the mindf**k moments, but towards the end you run into this weird monster that has all these pistons, gauges, and metal body implants that raise too many questions and make you wonder what the hell it is, and it suddenly appears out of nowhere with no warning and brings with it a stupid plot twist that unravels the otherwise extremely tight storyline. There are also many mysteries that NEED to be solved, like the strange birds constantly falling to their deaths in strange sequences. One might argue that these are supernatural, but newspapers in the game argue the opposite and suggest people have experienced the dying birds as well. The ending is a slap to the face, and is totally irrelevant and lacking any closure.

The game is relatively short, and can get a little repetitive when taken in large doses.

The forensics system is disappointing. Save for a couple moments such as the aforementioned house before the final level the game will tell you where to go and what to do removing almost all challenge in it and this is disappointing, because the forensics element could really make for a great puzzle solving element that could have improved the immersion.

The replay value is low, although you will find yourself replaying it from time to time, its not a game that one would want to instantly replay. Much like a movie, coming back to it too often and too soon can leave a nasty taste and make you dislike it.

The Bottom Line
Condemned is not like any other game you've played, and is a great combo of first person action with survival horror. It is scary and brutal, and has a great story, regardless of the stupid ending. I highly recommend it to horror fans and people who love brutal melee or murder mysteries. Take a bow, Monolith.

Nov 16th, 2009 · Windows

Plus 54 player ratings without reviews

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Jeanne, Wizo, Abi79, COBRA-COBRETTI, Cantillon, Evgenii Andzhe, tarmo888, Yearman, nyccrg, Emmanuel de Chezelles, Alsy, Patrick Bregger.