May 23rd, 2008, 08:25 Posted By: Shadowblind
I promised it, so here it is, a 'moderately' in depth review of Condemned 2 (yes, I shelled out the big bucks for you, populace! Be grateful!) I actually haven't played this game on the PS3 as the cover art may imply, but from reliable sources (IGN, Gamespot) they are both supposed to be equal is game. Besides, most reviews I've made have 360 cover art, even though they have PS3 counterparts.
Saying fps horror has a new face would be inaccurate-- how about no face at all?
Comdemned 2: Bloodshot
Developer: Monolith Productions
Genre: Survival horror FPS
You are Ethan Thomas, once an SCU(special something something forces) investigator. Now, your an alcoholic, and with a real pissy attitude. Your called back to action when your former partner has gone missing. Not only must you find your partner and solve many more murders, but you must battle your own inner demons as well and discover a truth so demented and sick that you will never see it coming...
The truth is both disturbing and awesome...
For my part I haven't really seen many a horror game that has an interesting story. Or many a horror game in general to be honest (Jericho and Doom 3 aside). So I was reluctant to try out Condemned 2, but the demo won me over. Aaaaannyway, Bloodshot's storyline is probably the most compelling reason to keep coming back to this game 'til the very end. Without revealing too much, the storyline actually seems less of a horror storyline and more of a mystery movie. Don't worry, its plenty scary for more reasons, but I'll get to that. The story is told in a way that makes the player consciously or unconsciously (thats right, it ****s up your mind, fool!) try and guess what happens next in the story. The best part is that your more then likely gonna be wrong, which serves to make the storyline much more compelling as you try to figure stuff out ahead of time (only to be wrong). The storyline itself is wacky, but takes itself so seriously it becomes like Ninja Gaiden-- crazy, but serious enough that it makes the player serious. For instance, in the first game (which I haven't actually played) you track down a serial killer nicknamed SKX. In Bloodshot, you go from solving a crime and trying to figure out whats happening to you and the city to, well....lets just say it goes from 1980's time periods to that of a sci-fi movie. None of this takes away too badly from the story, but it does make it a bit harder to truly get into. Still, it all is great and leaves a great amount of room for the third game. Oh, and did I mention, your steadily going insane in Bloodshot? Must have missed that... Now the atmosphere of Bloodshot is near flawless. it knows the perfect times throw psycho bandits at you and the perfect time to build crazy levels of suspense. Like when you explore the SCU building, and lights flicker while you simply see inhuman shadows for instance. Even the house levels will make you turn every single corner twice before you enter a room. The atmosphere in Bloodshot is a marvel of the horror genre, and a much needed improvement over those lame horror games where they rely on surprise as the sole factor in making a game scary. As far as menus go, your character sees the menus on his pocket computer, a bit of a nice change from the standard 'press start to see the bland, sideways menu' of most games. They are easy to read and navigate as well. I've had connection issues in multiplayer, but its more because hardly anyone playing it then anything else.
Ethan Thomas is no longer the shining beacon of joy he was in Condemned 1
Tar, tar, everywhere...
Condemned sure looks great sometimes. The splattered walls, the psychotic villains and especially the tar monsters (see? Sega made a tribute to Scooby-Doo-- that means some people DO still like that show!) who tear themselves out of the tar covered walls. The lighting effects are great at most times, and the flashlight is much needed. However, there are a few rooms and hallways, specifically in the beginning and end which are stupidly dark. These rooms are very rare, but getting attacked by 3 creatures in the dark sure can be annoying(very). The bloody and torn textures of flesh and blood in the game is sickeningly spot-on. The weapons and textures are great, and the splatting of enemies heads against your feet (or bludgeon) splat gloriously bloody. The enemies differ from one another, and few enemies look alike. The faceless Oros are great looking enemies, although getting close enough to study one without being beat up may be a challenge. However, a lot of times they just look kind of messy, but for the most part they look just like psychotics would-- scars and blood stains included. Environments are very well done, most noticeably being the run down state of the city. You truly get the feeling that the city is being turned onto an absolute nightmare, a home for the insane and not much else. The houses are ruined and broken, wood is rotting and cracks underfoot, and the amount of junk just makes you think that these guys aren't just psycho, but have a severe case of OCD. Each room is cluttered with trash, TVs, meth (laundry machines) and other things. The lights in these houses either flicker or don't work at all. Some areas where lights don't even exist (thank goodness for the flashlight) look absolutely haunted. The chairs are stacked on the tables, and the dust and fog makes you know they've been that way probably for 100 years. Other rooms just repeat themselves, however. Like in the winter cabin many of the rooms are absolutely symmetrical. The framerate does drop at occasions of intense fighting, often when many people are all trying to beat on you at once. And when it does, its pretty painful. But for the most part, Condemned 2 looks great. It just has a few issues here and there.
The Sound of fear
Condemned 2 is a horrific opera. And like all operas, they have the cool parts where the guy is sword fighting the villain, and the bad part where Helga the Viking fatass sings her dues. Condemned 2 is a mixed bag. While it has great effects, its music can sometimes be utterly annoying. Let me explain then...the sound effects are top notch for a horror game. Psychotics scream when you smack them in the face, and gunshots pierce the dead silence of Condemn's freaky atmosphere. Electrical pulses from SKX's torture devices and the lights resonate great, like the, well, resonators in the game. Voice acting is finely done. Ethan specifically-- his new voice serves him sell through the game. Dialogue is hit and miss though, but it all works out well with the story and all its creepiness. Music is a different story. the few times that music is in the background, its more then likely gonna annoy the he** outta you. Especially in the conveyor section of the doll factory. The music is haunting and well placed, but that doesn't stop it from being simply awful. Suggestion: turn music volume to zero when you start. All other sounds are great.
The perfect hand to hand system in a horror game? Awesome!
The gameplay in Condemned 2 focuses mainly on hand-to-hand combat like its predecessor. Only this time around, they absolutely nailed the melee system. Monolith took huge care to approach the suggestions of its fans, specifically regarding guarding fist combat. Tons and tons of weapons, including everything from shotguns to foosball sticks, are a major point of enjoyment in the game. Looking at each weapon and uses each one is a fun trait that lesser collectors might not really care for. Each weapon has 4 stats: Power, Reach, condition, and Speed. Power determines the damage a weapon will do, speed is how fast you can swing it, reach is the length at which it reaches, and condition is the, well, condition its in. They do break if you block too often and don't parry enough (which is easy enough to do). As for blocking, they fixed it in Bloodshot perfectly. Rather then simply doing a fast and messy parry like in Condemned 1, you can simply hold LT and RT to continuous block, or tap it to parry. You attack with each side; left being left, right being right.
Right hook to the face, bi***!
Also, you get upgrades after each mission depending on how well you did in the mission, which is ranked by bronze, silver, or gold. Upgrades range in anything from new sneakers to a stun gun, so they are very helpful. As for some of the lesser action-y parts of the game, there are CSI-type scenes in the game which actually require you to *gasp* think (If was tough for me, you know? When have I EVER thought prier to this?) the crime scenes are very well done, and careful observation of the scene will indeed reveal the right answer, you just need to look close. After each scene you get a grade on how well you solved the mystery scene. To aid you in these scenes you get some pretty nice equipment as well, such as a UV light and spectrometer. Back to combat. Unlike Condemned 1, guns play a far larger role in Bloodshot, although the game is still dominated by hand-to-hand. most gun battles will take place near the last mission though. Gun play works great when you've got the alchohol to steady your aim (after you get the upgrade, its good then too). In other words, for being a game all about melee combat, guns work great. Ammo is also more abundant then Condemned 1, but it still needs to be rationed. Condemned 2 easily has the best melee combat system in any FPS out there.
FPS horror multiplayer scores points for originality
Replay Value. I was a bit reluctant to try out multiplayer, but for RV I needed to for this review. Multiplayer is a mixed feeling--the only really fair mode, team deathmatch, is great fun. 4 on 4, melee combat where you use the shadows to your advantage. In other words, stealth is perfected in this FPS multiplayer mode. Sadly, many of my teamates didn't seem to understand that (which would explain why I was able to best my entire team in my first game...) and so, without strategy its rather boring. I moved onto a mode called crime scene where its SCU vs. Infected. The infected have two boxes, each complete with severed heads inside that they must hide, while the SCU have to search for the boxes. Now heres the downside- SCU gets guns while Infected don't. So to kill an SCU officer, you need to know how to use stealth and be able to dodge bullets, fast. Doesn't always work. More often then not the SCU will win with flying colors (unless they're blind). Then theres bum rush, a great mode to play with friends. There are two SCU with health bars visible to all and 6 Infected. The infected respawn instantly, but die in a single shot from the SCU. So it takes an average of 20 infected to kill SCU officers, rather annoying unless you have friends in the game. other then multiplayer, theres Bloodshot fight club, which is kinda like a series of bloody minigames for the game. I haven't really explored these much. As for the single player story, its fairly short. However, you might want to go back through it another time on hard or FPS mode.
Lets get to it then! (Right on! Right on!)
Brilliant horror atmosphere, and intelligent(mostly) plot tie into one helluva good horror time.
While they are good and effects are well done, they're rather average in general.
Sound effects are something this game going for it, but music is garbage.
Great melee combat whose depth is unrivaled by any other FPS out there. Gunplay is great too, but hand-to-hand is exceptional.
Replay Value: 4/5
Tons to do if you like it. Multiplayer is good fun on XBL if you can find anyone actually playing. Especially deathmatch (best melee system in multiplayer rocks)
I've met very little horror games that both thrill and chill. Monolith's new entry into their saga of Ethan Thomas does both. best horror game I've played in a long time.
PS Screenshots by me.
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