Apr 13

Retro Review: Condemned

In these quiet times between game reviews it is an industry Tradition to dig through ones collection and revisit some of those titles that made you do all this in the first place.

While rifling though my games I found an old copy of a personal favourite of mine, a game by with merely a glance at it’s spine brings up fond memories.

‘Condemned’ is one of the 360’s first titles, and at first glance you can instantly see what has dated the worst, it’s graphics. The characters are so blocky they are almost impossible to tell even their sex (It wasn’t till the second game that I found the lead character was in his 20’s. I thought he was 40). The enviroments are pretty bland and as a title close to launch I contribute this to is low exposure. The times called for looks not gameplay.

What this game lacks In visuals it makes up for in atmosphere.

From the start we are surrounded by tension, your character is visiting a serial killer murder in a derilict building and once you enter you are hit with the reality of guns only have 6 bullets. No ammo crates, no clips from enemy bodies. 6 shot then you are out. From that point you are stuck with melée weapons such as pipes, hammers, clubs and crowbars. This adds an amazing level of tension to every combat encounter and combined with the enemy AI happily running from combat to wait somewhere hidden for you later on, it makes footsteps and screaming enemies truely terifying. The combat system itself is nothing to write home about consisting mainly of one or 2 straight forward attacks for all of the games weapons, but for me this made the combat more real and awkward as I would flail my way through encounters with a great sense of desperation. The controls that I did think worked were the criminal investigations, the mechanics are straight forward but really put the grizzly nature of the story up close and personal using CSI style dialog to make sure the player know all the grotesque details of each killing and nicely breaks the sometime repetive nature of the combat.

The enviroments were also amazingly well designed featuring some of the greatest of horror locations like derilict buildings, creepy alleyways, empty schools and my personal favourite an abandoned shopping complex (complete with warped elevator music looping throughout the store).

The story itself is simple but effective using both reasonable voice acting and Ethan’s “is it or isn’t it” hallucinations to keep the story driving along and does a good job of pacing right up to it’s heart wrenching conclusion involving an epic game of cat and mouse and a brutal final boss battle that goes in my favourites of all time.

All and all it is still a horror game and won’t appeal to everyone but for those that dare, the game is incredibly rewarding, even though the game is far from perfect it will still give chills to even the most hardcore of horror fans and deserves it’s place among the top horror games.