The first Condemned came out alongside the launch of the Xbox 360. When I played it I found myself completely immersed in it's visceral blend of the survival horror and first person shooter genres. The inclusion of first person melee and lack of ammo for the guns made the game a bit slower than most, but this worked well because it added to the claustrophobia and sense of dread the game instilled.
I had been waiting for Condemned 2 since I finished that games rather vague ending, hoping for answers to the many questions that game presented. Now, I find myself waiting for Condemned 3 to get any real answers.
Condemned 2 is not a complete loss. The developers made many improvements that make it a vastly better game than the first one. The combat is deeper and quicker. Enemies are more varied and have better artificial intelligence. The graphics have a good, if not huge, upgrade.
Still, with all these improvements, many mistakes were made with concerns to the pacing of the game, and the way to story is portrayed.
Condemned 2 drops you right into events, without any real set-up for players who may have missed the first game. Add to this mistake the fact that what is going on is so vaguely explained that players might just find themselves lost as to the motivation behind the main character. Because of this lack of clarity the game simply ends up being the events taking place. Any deeper meaning or sense of an overriding plot get lost and what remains is the equivalent of walking through a house of horrors.
Things get much better midway through the game, but my fear is that many players will have given up on it long before things turn around. This is a shame, because anyone who does give up on Condemned 2 will be missing out on one of the scariest encounters ever in a video game. Nothing beats the combination of a rabid bear and a run down cabin.
The game is relatively short at only about ten hours, and the addition of online multiplayer will probably not extend the life of this game for most gamers. It feels rather tacked on and at this late date does not have many other players online to play with.
Condemned 2 was a great rental for fans of the first game at launch, but the numerous problems contained in the game made the $60 price tag a little too steep. Now does seem like a much better time to try this game out. The price is hovering around $20 for a new copy, and you can pay even less if you don't have any quibbles about buying used games.
Condemned 2 might leave you wishing that the developers had spent some time making the game good from front to back, but you are at least guaranteed a few scares. I really hope the developers of this game can keep the improvements this game makes as far as gameplay, but add in a story that is worth caring about for the next game… If there is a next game.
Developer Monolith has proven that they can make dark, scary games that have cool gameplay innovations. What they have not proven is that they can make a clear and concise story to buoy all the hard work their artists, level designers and scripting programmers put into each game. Maybe if the company hired a few good writers their titles could step up to the next level. As they stand now Monolith is a good developer that has yet to make a truly AAA game.
While I enjoy both the Fear and Condemned series, it might just be time for Monolith to return to square one and start things fresh in a new series not bogged down by past failures.
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