Condemned: Criminal Origins (2005) Xbox 360 Game Review

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3 years ago

Thought you'd never get scared playing video games? Do you believe that the videogame experience cannot reach such a level that, pad in hand, you fear and move forward with extraordinary caution and concentration? Sega and the development studio of Monolith Productions bring you the proof that all this is now possible on Xbox 360. So throw away all your prejudices and prepare yourself for a world where violence and fear reign supreme, the terrifying but exciting world of Condemned.

Overview

Everyone considers you, Special Agent Ethan Thomas, to be the most gifted member of the FBI office's Special Crimes Branch. So much so, that you are accumulating investigations and you are on every single case. But here comes an event that will turn your life upside down. You are called to a crime committed by a serial killer who is seriously starting to get too much attention. At the scene of the murder, things don't start well. Still present, the criminal manages to steal your gun and shoots the two other policemen present at the scene in cold blood. No witnesses, no one to prove your story: you didn't kill these policemen when the facts are overwhelming you, your weapon having been used to shoot them.

The story takes the gamer and its unfolding from beginning to end, even if the latter unfortunately tends to disappoint somewhat. Without talking about survival/horror, we will speak of a human adventure at the limit of reality, because as you will discover by yourself, the supernatural is sometimes much closer to us than we think. We live the game fully through Agent Thomas's skin to the point where we consider ourselves a real player of the game, not just a player operating a few buttons on a joystick. Of course, as we'll see later, many elements do their utmost to ensure total immersion. But it's becoming so rare nowadays to find ourselves with such a great game that we can enjoy browsing through the different chapters of Condemned for even more thrills.

Gameplay

If the unique atmosphere of Condemned is undeniable, it is partly thanks to its gameplay. There is no need to remind that the game is an FPS, but the difference is that the controls are much less linear than elsewhere. Each step, the breathlessness or the glances are as many elements that make you feel the pad in your hand. You feel like you're embodying Agent Thomas, which certainly makes the gameplay unique at first, but eventually seduces and imposes itself as such a particular element of the game's universe. The hand-to-hand combat gives this impression of sudden effort and transmits the violence of the blows we offer to our opponents. Hitting someone with a crowbar or with a sledgehammer does not give the same impression of heaviness, and the latter can be felt in the handling and power of the blow given. These phases of action are all the better and are enhanced by the delicious and terrifying general atmosphere. As for firearms, they are so few, and their use is much rarer than in any FPS that they appear like messiahs once in hand. However, their ammunition is always less, and the possibility to continually monitor the number of remaining bullets reinforces this "economy" side of the shooting.

If Condemned also gives you access to the latest technology to find traces of prints, sweat or dried blood, these possibilities quickly become very limited. Impossible to take out all this beautiful material when you want, it will only be available when in crucial moments, specific places that the game interface will always take care to give you. On this point, we must admit that the gameplay is quickly limited to actions in which we are only the pseudo investors. A disappointing fact, but fortunately the pleasure is much more significant once you regain your board with a nail or the gas pipe that you recovered a few pieces before.

Many have described the life span of this Condemned as relatively short. A lot of time is spent taking small steps for fear of being surprised by this or that element of the game. This probably adds an hour or two to the game's lifetime, but it's clear that it's relatively honest for a game of this kind. Unfortunately, these games' replayability is not necessarily there, but the experience it offers is enough to keep excellent memories.

Graphics & Sound

Without falling into the dull and the category of graphics that could be much better, Condemned seems to play a little too much on its morbid aspect to present only a level-design just appreciable. One exclaims in front of a building's decorations under construction, for example, or in front of lighting effects measured out to perfection for this type of game. However, the game atmosphere leaves us minimal opportunity to dwell on these negative points, and we concentrate much more on the glow of our little flashlight lit from the beginning to the end of the game.

Of course, an atmosphere such as Condemned's would not exist without a superb soundtrack. And it is the case here since sound effects, and scary musical backgrounds come to plunge the gamer a little more in the meander of the nightmare Condemned. The example of the chapter on the mannequins factory is the perfect illustration. Not only are we continually staring at the mannequins, which make us doubt and tremble, but when we hear footsteps on broken glass or cans falling to the ground, then no doubt the smallest element of the set becomes your greatest enemy and feeds your fear.

Conclusion

Condemned: Criminal Origins is undoubtedly an excellent surprise. Endowed with a fantastic atmosphere that will bring you moments of incredible intensity, the game also offers you an immense playing pleasure. Some small inconveniences appear as gameplay that reaches its limits too quickly and a visual aspect that sometimes tends to sink into the ease of the game's context. But the fact is there: the gamer lives a unique experience.

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Avatar for patientgamer9
3 years ago

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