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Fight for your life
on 17 September 2014
S T O R Y
You return as Ethan Thomas, having resigned from the FBI he has been caught in somewhat of a downward spiral and now finds himself homeless, violent, and an alcoholic. Serial Killer X has returned and is linked to Malcolm’s murder, as well as other murders of high ranking officials in Metro City. A secret organisation known as Oro the lays ruin to society. Ethan must find out the Oro’s true objectives and attempt to stop their rise to power.
Metro City is a character in itself; it’s grimy facade and rotting nature present a very vivid backdrop. Now, overlay the tramp-like appearance of Ethan, and you have the definitive qualities of the experience. The storyline surrounding the secret organisation didn’t really suck me in, it seemed tacked on and an uncreative way to include different antagonists.
G R A P H I C S & S O U N D
The visual design is decrepit and decayed; the city is quite frankly a s*** hole and it’s this very run-down quality that brings a majority of surroundings to life. An abandoned hospital left a very memorable impression, broken wheelchairs, crutches and prosthetic limbs scattered everywhere. The textures may look gritty and rough, but these work in favour of the presentation and dramatically strengthen the atmosphere. The lighting is evocative and creepy, keeping your flashlight constantly switched on is highly recommended.
There’s a similarity to Manhunt, though the presentation of these hoodlums is far starker in contrast to Rockstar’s gruesome game. Animations are excellent; enemies will stumble from hits, throw objects at you and use a variety of attacks to give you a good beat down. Sound design is outstanding, the slam of your weapon against an enemy’s flesh provides chilling audio feedback. The soundtrack is understated and is never overbearing upon the eerie nature of the game.
The collision detection needs some smoothing out, getting stuck on small objects became an annoying inconvenience and detrimental to the gameplay. Some of the enemies are extremely hard to spot in darkened environments, simply because their character models are far too dark and cannot reflect enough light to help them stand out.
G A M E P L A Y
Condemned 2 pushes the melee combat even further, introducing more weapons and a combo system to deal some truly devastating blows. Using hand-to-hand combat can be an effective tool, and you can attack with both fists this time, using the corresponding triggers to swing. Stringing combos together will deal more damage and help eliminate multiple threats quicker. Arming yourself with a weapon will greatly increase your chances of survival. Baseball bats, electric conduits, crutches, bedposts, and many other weapons are plentiful in supply to satisfy your
battle hungry needs.
Ethan also has a kill metre, which rises as you butcher unfortunate thugs to death. When the metre is actives, everything moves in slow motion and a series of contextual button presses choreographs the action. The whole QTE formula may be somewhat overdone, but it feels natural and flows with the overall combat style. If you really want to get your hands dirty then you can also use the environment to your benefit if an injured opponent falls to his knees. At this point, you put them in a headlock and drag them to any number of objects marked with a skull, where an item-appropriate kill will take place.
I loved the forensic investigations from the original game, though they were far too easy to complete and not challenging at all Bloodshot has changed that, this time it’s down to you to analyse evidence and determine how the victim was killed. You’ll be pressed to answer contextual clues, and answers reward you with a better-end-level medal, as well as an upgrade to show for it. The Al is extremely brutal and aggressive; they know when to unleash hell and when to take cover if necessary. It’s always important to finish them quickly and not allow them to find other weapons in the vicinity. Ammo is severely limited, once you run out of it then you better think of an alternative attack method.
There are some gameplay sequences that are completely out of place, I won’t say what they are, but they are sure to slow down the experience. The forensic gameplay may have been improved, but there aren’t many crime scenes to come across and I didn’t find them as interesting to study either.
O V E R A L L
Condemned 2 is an improvement over the first game, it takes a step back in some areas, but it notches up the intensity. The supernatural story and Ethan’s alcoholic demise add a gritty layer to the disturbing world of Metro City. The graphics are slimy, foreboding and wonderfully atmospheric. The gameplay is compelling, merging carnage and suspenseful horror into one haunting package.