Condemned: Criminal Originals - Review Sunday, November 18th, 2007
Sometimes when I finish a game I am left with a sense of excitement and accomplishment. Sometimes I am even filled with a kind of satisfied euphoria and in rare cases I have been known to feel a sense of loss that the game is over, wishing it would go on - a statement of our game/gamer relationship.
Last night when I finished Condemned I was left with an overwhelming feeling of … ambivalence. Overall, it was okay, it just never managed to get any better then good. The story line has gaps that don’t really explain what’s going on in the world, which leads your imagination on a wild goose chase to nowhere.
It’s interesting to note that I first peeked at Condemned many months ago, and not immediately grabbing my attention, it went back on the game shelf, untouched for a long time. I only picked it back up after reading a blog on gamespot by chap who was playing it for its creep factor.
So, onto the deets: while I admit that its a scary ride with some definite “ewww” moments, if the story line would have been opened up and extended, I’m sure my girly fright senses could have been tickled the right way. You begin the game as Ethan Thomas an FBI Agent with Serial Crimes Unit. You’re not very good looking, and your character is sluggish and seems like he has a bad hangover throughout the entire game. I like my heroes to be heroic, or at least hot, or have some sense of interest or attraction. This guy could have been picked up in the low IQ section of the homeless shelter.
The game begins on an assignment: where after a series of shooting and chasing through a very unfortunate area of town you find yourself implicated in a bunch of murders. So you run off on you own to find the real killer. This opens the connection with a chick from the forensic lab via video phone who helps you to analyze evidence. She for some reason thinks you innocent and through the rest of the game pops in and out with unrealistic reports from the unrealistic tools you use to collect data and send to her. . The game in its entirety is devoid of anything sexy, leaving even her character cludgy and unfeminine in every way. This was an opening for some kind aesthetic appeal, but then, I like a little pretty with my putrid. Not here, Condemned is ugly through and through, from the dark dirty depressing rotting streets, to the feces smeared bathrooms and blood soaked buildings, it’s a grossly gory atmosphere that somehow made me feel like washing my hands everytime I put the controller down.
If you could hear my thoughts during gameplay, it would sound something like this:
What the hell is wrong with everybody? Why is there a weird corpse chopping butcher in the middle of the game? Why are peoples arms missing, and why do all the baddies look like they’ve been soaked in acid? Ewww, that’s gross, I don’t want to reach in there. Why does the serial killer keep letting me live? Maybe he isn’t the serial killer. Damn he’s ugly. Who is the killer? What’s that flashback? Is that me? Who is that? Am I the killer? Ohhhhh that would be exciting if I was the killer! Maybe I am the killer! Oh I’m not the killer, damn. Why does that guy have nails in his head? Oh he’s the evil. Is this Hellraiser? Who am I? Where’s the last damn bird carcass? What? I don’t understand. That was really gross. What the fuck is that ninja doing in the game? Who’s the killer? The killer is killing killers. Am I a killer? No, I am not the killer, damn. I wanna be a Ninja.
The fighting isn’t bad; you select weapons as you go picking up shelves, pipes, 2×4’s with nails in them, and occasionally run across one of several firearm varietal’s. Your armed with a taser gun that will stun your baddies for a few seconds while you brutally bash their heads in.
You collect birds, 6 in each chapter and metal pieces, 3 in each chapter for achievement awards along with other things like badges and such. Pretty much that’s it. I certainly would say it has a uniqueness about it, in that I’ve never played a game quite like it, but ultimately I feel sullied by its nastiness and confused by its teasing incomplete story line that never let’s you finish your business. Dirty Birdy.