I bought "Condemned Criminal Origins" for $4 at GameStop the other day. I had heard some good things about it, that it was a pretty good horror game. But I really am not at all enjoying that game.
The controls are really sluggish, and that might be intentional to make the game feel more realistic, but all it does is make navigating the environments tedious. Especially when most of the environments looks very similar, and give you little indication as to where you're supposed to go.
And their attempts to make the game have a realistic feel and look are very hit or miss. The buildings you're in for most of the game look dilapidated and like a place where horrible murders would actually take place. And the textures look really good. Even by more modern standards, the walls, lighting, and attention to detail are all fantastic.
But all that is irrelevant when the game has literally some of the worst character models I have seen on the 360. I know it's a nearly six year old game at this point, but when the environments and lighting effects are as good as they are here, the character models look even worse than they might actually be. And seem like they were the last thing to be rushed out of the door.
The game also suffers from poor UI. Button prompts look cheap, and completely separate from the setting and tone of the game. I feel the same issue applies to your health and stamina meters. Since the game is going for a serious tone, having such a cartoony user interface is a huge shame. Since it takes me out of the game. I'm constantly being reminded that I'm playing a game, I'm never allowed to be enveloped into the setting and horror the game attempts to bring.
And that's another issue I have, this was sold to me as a horror game, and I checked several different sources to confirm that this is a horror game.
Condemned is known as a "Psychological Horror" game. And I really don't know how well it hits that target.
The way the game started was way more intriguing than the game actually is. You're thrown into a crime-scene to investigate the killer who sets people up with the mannequins. Which was really creepy. The detail put in was outstanding. And I was extremely excited to continue, since I've heard rumors of the mannequin sequence.
But, directly after you finish investigating the scene, you get thrown into the combat.
And the combat has to be my biggest problem with the game. Combat has never been great in horror games, but the combat in Condemned seems really out of place to me. And entirely removed from the horror portion of the game. You start detecting crazy murderers, and looking over creepy crime scenes. Then you have to beat drug-addicts with pipes. Which by itself might be okay, but drug addicts yelling aren't scary. Not once playing this game have I been legitimately scared to go around a corner. Knowing that I'll have to fight another bum holding a 2X4 is just plain boring. And the combat is outright frustrating to me. Maybe I'm just really bad at it. But when the guard animation takes at least a half second, to a full second to come out, and the enemies will stop attacking when you're blocking, it just seems like really bad design. Especially when most enemies kill you with about three or four hits. And enemies attacking fast, and repeatedly, combined with sluggish blocking and attacking animations, make for combat that I cannot bring myself to remotely enjoy.
A few other issues I've had, are that enemies look kind of kooky. They'll run around swinging their arms and moving their legs in a very dated way. Which is obviously just a problem with the game being as old as it is. But that doesn't excuse those being the enemies in a horror game. I'm supposed to be frightened of these cartoon characters that are constantly reminding me that I'm playing a game.
The voice acting is pretty minimalist, it's mostly angry guys yelling curse words, or generic tough cop talk. But when talking to a killer face to face, it just gets a little funky. The acting isn't necessarily bad, but that it just seems out of place.
Those are just a few of my thoughts from the first three hours of the game, I'm going to keep playing, and maybe I'll get used to the dated controls, or maybe it'll mix up it's attempts to be scary. But right now, I have been left with some very negative feelings towards Condemned.
Let me know, am I missing something with the combat? Am I the only one who has a problem with it? Is it as poorly designed as it first appears?