For a game released in 2005 at the beginning of the Xbox 360’s lifespan, Condemned: Criminal Origins is a very well thought out game (so far). I’m about six chapters in and it’s already given me quite a few scares, but it’s so much more than a mere compilation of cheap jump scares. With low lighting throughout the game and an extremely ominous plot driving the narrative, I’ve constantly found myself on edge. Here are my first impressions of Condemned.
1. Atmosphere: Right off the bat I noticed that Condemned is an extremely dark game, literally and figuratively. This is something that hasn’t changed since the beginning of the game. Each location I’ve been to has been shrouded in a veil of darkness with a dense atmosphere to accompany it. I haven’t felt at ease since I started the game, which is a testament to its overall ambiance. Practically every location I’ve traveled to has been desolate aside from the deranged psychopathic enemies that lurk around practically every corner. I hate playing this game with no one else in the room and rightly so.
2. Detective Equipment: Much of this game plays off of the fact that you are an FBI agent, which means that you have a unique set of investigation tools at your disposal in order to find evidence at various crime scenes throughout the game. You wield a digital camera, a forensic light, and some sort of tool that monitors chemicals in the air. The digital camera is by far the creepiest to use because it allows you to toggle zoom in and out of different areas when trying to document evidence, which can be pretty creepy when you’re constantly shrouded in darkness. Another cool part about your detective equipment is that you are able to send your evidence to your personal assistant, Rosa, via your cell phone in the game. Aside from the relief of making actual human contact from time to time in the game, Rosa plays a key role in helping you piece together pieces of the crime you are trying to uncover. Overall, the use of detective equipment in this game is executed very well.
1. Controls: Because this is a far more primitive games than what we’re used to now at this point in the 360’s lifespan, I’m inclined to give Condemned’s controls the benefit of the doubt. Still, there are a few problems that have made it rather tough to play the game. First off, to sprint you have to hold the left thumbstick in completely if you want to run for any extended period of time. If you neglect to hold the left thumbstick in you will stop sprinting altogether. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but considering you already move extremely slow, running is a necessity, especially when traveling long distances throughout multiple levels. Fortunately, this little drawback can be solved by changing the control layout. The best solution I’ve found is to switch sprint to the left trigger, which moves melee blocking to clicking the left thumbstick in. This still isn’t optimal, but at least you can sprint easier by holding the left trigger rather than killing your thumb on the left trigger. In general, the controls are above average, but they definitely get some taking used to.
2. More Melee, Less Guns: Seeing as you play as and FBI agent you’d think you’d have at least one gun at your disposal at all times. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. More often than not I’ve found myself wielding a melee weapon of some sort. This is almost a requirement seeing as many doors require certain melee weapons to get through. Some
doors have to be hacked down with a fire axe, some gates have to be smashed with a shovel, and the list goes on. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if you were able to carry an alternative weapon around in addition to the one you’re forced to wield, but because you can’t, the combat system feels very limiting. The one saving grace in regards to combat is that you wield a taser at all times, which can be used via the left bumper. The taser can never run out, but it does require about a 15 second recharge time after each use. This does make for some more interesting combat situations as you’re able to stun your enemies for a few seconds before smashing them in the face with a sledge hammer, but it would still be nice to have a permanent fire arm at your disposal.
3. Ammo Collection: In addition to not wielding fire arms that often in this game, utilizing guns is almost pointless because you can’t collect any ammo while you’re wielding them. You only get around five shots whenever you pick up a gun, which would be acceptable if you could pick up ammo as you progress through each level, but you can’t. If you find an identical gun on the ground and it has two shots, there’s no way to combine the ammo from the gun on the ground and the one you are currently using. It’s a relentless ammo system and, although it makes for very intense melee combat situations, the inability to pick up ammo makes the game feel pretty unrealistic.
Overall, I’m very pleased with this game so far. Condemned has done a great job at sucking me into its narrative and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in the story. It’s the perfect mix of crime meets sheer terror and a definite standout game so far. Look for more as soon as I finish this game!
-Ocarina of Time Nerd
- AMNESIA: A MACHINE FOR PIGS Whirs To Life Next Month (badassdigest.com)
- Want to murder angry tramps with a spade? Play Condemned (gamesradar.com)
- Top 10 Scariest Video Games (toptenz.net)
- Ammo as a Postapocalyptic Currency (a1survivalkits.wordpress.com)