Thursday, November 01, 2007

Condemned (11/15/05)

Condemned is not a bad game buuuut it's not all that great either. It's not so much that I have a problem with the game - I have a problem with the genre it belongs to and the way that genre is used in games. Condemned is a supernatural serial killer game that has loads of atmosphere, some decent scares, and lots and lots of dark, narrow passageways.

Ever since Se7en serial killer movies & games have been dark, stylish, and grimy in that particular Se7en way. While this works - up to a point - it's also been done to death (along with blue rinsed run down hospital wards). Early in the game a character comments on the fact that serial killers are constantly lurking in the darkest, dankest places. Apparently all of these dark, dank places are linked together by dark, dank corridors filled with homeless people waiting to attack you. Oh yeah and there's some kind of cock-a-mamie plot pulled from a Dean Koontz-esque beach read thriller. Something about dead birds and crazy people.

The combat in the game hinges on melee attacks - you can pull boards off of walls, wield rebar, and swing axes, shovels, crowbars, and other assorted implements of destruction. So can your opponents - which makes for some pretty tense action. I personally don't handle melee attacks very well. I'd rather just sit back and destroy opposition with ranged attacks. This made Condemned a little more than frustrating for me - especially one point where I had to take a guy down who had a pistol. I had a shovel.

A major problem I had with the game was the fact I couldn't return to previous areas - I don't mean earlier levels - I mean earlier parts of the same level. This was a problem because I couldn't double back for health, items, or exploration. Some doors can only be opened with certain tools but tough cookies if you had to ditch your axe or crowbar or firearm earlier.

Another problem: you can only carry one item. Sure you have a taser and your detection tools but you can only bring one other item. I understand that you can't a fireaxe, a shotgun, a sledgehammer, a shovel, a pistol, all at once but Jesus as an FBI Investigator you have a holster and a big ass shoulder bag. At one point I had a pistol with some ammo in it. I found another pistol with some ammo in it. I couldn't combine the ammo. A minor gripe but when ammo is so scarce and you can't go back to get it it's kind of an issue.

Last problem - I am tired of running through dark hallways, dark corridors, dark tunnels, dark condemned buildings, and dark subways. Again, a minor gripe but one that made me put down the game.

All in all pick it up if you're in the mood for a serial killer/FBI Agent/supernatural/running around in the dark game.

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