darro's Condemned: Criminal Origins (Xbox 360) review

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A game that is enjoyable at times but its a one-trick pony.

Condemned is a first-person action game brought to you by Sega and Monolith Studios, the same team that brought you the hit PC game, F.E.A.R and if you have played that game then as you play this game, you see some certain similarities with the spookiness and craziness that occurs as you progress through the short but fairly enjoyable 10 chapters.

Condemned: Criminal Origins to give it its full title sees you play the part of a federal agent known as Ethan Thomas who is somewhat on the run after being framed for the murders of a fellow agent and an officer that he accompanied while investigating a crime scene in this crummy, run down building that you are at in the beginning of the game. The reason he is framed is because the murder weapon was his own gun but it was someone else who did it and this person is sort of the main villain of the game as you follow him and track him down throughout the game and eventually you do. The villain is known as Serial Killer X although near the end of the game, you found out his true identity.

There is another side to the story as well as there is somewhat an outbreak of these strange people around the areas that you visit and kind of have a similarity in a way to the Los Illuminados from Resident Evil 4. They attack you on sight with various types of melee weapons, which will be explained in just a bit and at times, firearms also. Ethan comes across these people and also has strange visions of freakish creatures that haunt his mind and you find out a bit more about this as you progress but maybe not as much as you would like.

The gameplay of Condemned sees you in a first-person view and at first glance, you may think this will be another bog-standard first person shooter and the fact is, it isn't. Firearms come into play in the game but they are not the main attraction. What the main attraction of the gameplay is that you use melee weapons from pipes and 2 by 4s to sledgehammers and fire axes and the unique thing is that each weapon has its strengths and weaknesses. An example is that a sledgehammer is strong but is slow while a pipe is fast to execute but weaker than some of the other weapons.

You use these melee weapons to take care of these so-called psychopaths as you progress through the 10 chapters of the game but there is also firearms included but they are not the main focus because when you obtain one, you have a limited number of bullets in each weapon and once used up, they are pretty much useless although you can also use them for melee attacks but are quite weak compared to other melee weapons.

The game is not all about action now as there is another side to the gameplay in that you go around and actually get evidence using the different forensic tools that are at your disposal and usually most of the clues that you obtain are the same. Examples include photos, blood stains, track marks etc. This is a nice little addition to the game anyway although sometimes it is not entirely relevant.

The action in the game is nice although once you get past the first chapter and believe that there will be different aspects of gameplay, you will find yourself disappointed because that is all that the game offers and just goes on and on for 9 more chapters and that you will get bored at times, as you use some of the same old weapons to progress further on in some levels.

The graphics in the game are good although some things in the game could have been done a lot better. The models themselves are very nicely detailed and you encounter different type of freaks although they do get repetitive as time goes on. The different melee weapons and firearms available in the game are good to look at but maybe could have a bit more work into the game to really show off the 360's power but are detailed fairly good to make you appreciate them each time you use them.

The environments in the game are somewhat repetitive, mainly because most of the time it is quite dark but that is what the game is going after, dark and spooky and for that, it hits the nail on the head and some of the environments have detailed items and can walk around each chapter and appreciate some of the finer items on display.

The sound in this game is what makes this game worth playing as from the good voice acting to the superb sounds of the weapons available, you will find out why the sound in this game is the best feature of all. The sound is delightful to listen to when you first whack someone with a melee weapon because you just feel the noise of the impact on the enemy and it is a pleasure to listen to over and over again and for me, it never got old as I played through this game. The firearms and forensic tools have good sound also but you would keep using the melee weapons just to hear the different impact sounds.

Is the game worth the purchase? Well, in my eyes, no. The reason fpr this is that you can just fly through it in about the 8-10 hour mark and really no good reason to go through it again unless you want all the achievements in this game that you missed out the first time round. There are 50 achievements overall if you are the kind of guy that likes their 360 points and some of them consist of getting the different items hidden throughout the game (birds and metal pieces to be exact) and completing the levels and game only using melee weapons.

In the end, Condemned is worth a rental at best but although it is enjoyable at times thanks to the different weapons and excellent sounds, it is too much of a one-trick pony to make it essential.

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