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Condemned 2: Bloodshot Review
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Mar 11, 08
|» All About Condemned 2: Bloodshot on ActionTrip|
Most developers continue using senseless violence as a selling point for games. God forbid they'd concentrate on offering a meaningful game concept, preferably seasoned with a half-way decent plot. Rockstar made a similar mistake with its controversial and greatly disappointing PS2/Wii game, Manhunt 2. The pointless scenes of death and brutality failed to cover up an otherwise bland and shallow game experience. Condemned 2 doesn't fall into the same trap. Sure it has enough grotesque scenes to make you feel nauseous, but so does your average Hollywood horror flick. Unlike Manhunt 2, the controversial themes effectively work to the game's advantage, in the sense that they create a far more immersive atmosphere, not to mention an engaging gameplay.
The franchise does have a bit of history. In case you didn't know, Monolith Productions' Condemned: Criminal Origins (360) garnered largely positive reviews. There were downsides to the experience, which the developers sought out to fix this time around. For one thing, combat has been revamped, adding bare-fisted hand-to-hand fighting and a new combo system with the character being able to chain a variety of defensive and offensive moves.
Condemned 2 continues the tale about a washed up FBI agent named Ethan Thomas, formerly assigned to work with the Serial Crimes Unit. Following the events of Condemned: Criminal Origins, Ethan resigned. It's been 11 months since then and Ethan now has a darker personality and is far more aggressive. Slowly falling into despair, he started hitting the sauce (good idea!). At times, his changed behavior gives him certain advantages, especially when he's in danger. On the other hand, he's often troubled by eerie hallucinations, which make it difficult for him to focus on the problem at hand.
One day, Ethan was just hanging around the bar, having a few drinks as usual. Suddenly, the hallucinations start kicking in. He gets thrown out into the street only to discover that something is causing city-wide violence and mass hysteria. That's when it all begins. (All the bad guys have tar on their face. A sure fire recipe for creating horror - tar on faces. - Ed.)
As Ethan fights to stay alive, the game introduces us to the new-fangled combo system. A lot depends on the accuracy and the timing of your moves. Generally, the combat is rewarding, though from our perspective it may take some getting used to. Keep in mind that it's not always easy to chain together a combo of powerful blows and your enemies usually make an effort to prevent you from doing so. Now as much as it sounds cool, every so often it just feels frustrating. Authentic AI behavior is all very well, but I just find it hard to believe that people can retaliate after someone slashed across their face with a huge broadsword.
Forensics and crime-scene investigation has seen quite an improvement, featuring a system that's far more intuitive than before. Part of this system denotes using items like the camera to snap images for analysis. There's also the UV light, used to detect hidden evidence and to make out blood stains that have been wiped clean.
Emphasis remains on realism throughout the entire game. Your character is an alcoholic and has a hard time aiming when he uses firearms. Your hands remain unsteady when firing a weapon, unless you manage to find an alcoholic beverage to calm your nerves. Yep, the game encourages your character to drink a lot, especially when he wants to be more effective in fire-fights.
For close combat, you can wield just about anything from pipes, hammers, broadswords, shortswords (snatched during the game's museum level), bricks and so on. The game also sports unconventional melee weapons such as toilette seats, antlers, mop buckets, bed-posts, electric conduits, prosthetic legs, etc. All of these deteriorate during combat and once they do, it's back to punching and kicking.
Remember, you don't play as the typical muscle-head hero with super-human strength. Poor Ethan has issues and it shows. It feels real too. Every aspect of Ethan's character was brilliantly integrated into the gameplay. And that's probably what's so compelling about this game. It makes you focus on each move and then instinctively pulling it off as best you can... kind of like in real life. The intense and challenging combat forces players to scratch their heads a few times and plan out their next move before engaging enemies. For example, it's a good idea to hurl objects at an enemy from a distance, which slows them down, making it easier for you to use finishing moves. Some attacks are more effective when you sprint towards your enemies and prevent them from executing combos.
Watching the AI in action was fun. Enemy AI is, in fact, another aspect that further adds to game's engaging combat. Unarmed hooligans are fully aware of their disadvantage if they see you coming with a melee weapon or a gun. Instead of rushing at you, they'll retreat until they find a suitable weapon in the nearby area. Finally, an AI that knows what it's doing.
8.4 Very Good
Incredibly realistic combat, improvements have made a difference, overall more fun that the original, the authentic atmosphere gets two thumbs up;
Infrequent AI bugs, the absence of ordinary moves like ducking and jumping slows down gameplay, multiplayer feels almost pointless.