Xbox 360 Review: ‘Condemned: Criminal Origins’

Today we added a review for Sega’s Condemned: Criminal Origins for the Xbox360. The review can be read inside. The hunt for a serial killer has never been so terrifyingly real! Experience a heightened level of psychological tension as they use their instincts, forensic tools, and melee combat to track serial killers and bring them to justice. Play as Agent Thomas, an investigator in the FBI’s Serial Crimes Unit (SCI), whose pursuit of relentless serial killers leads him through urban environments filled with sociopaths lurking on the periphery of humanity. Weapons and ammunition are scarce, leaving you vulnerable to a gallery of mentally deranged criminals. Careful detective work and precision reflexes are your primary means of survival…
Condemned: Criminal Origins: Xbox360
Review by JMascus
Buy it here

I attempt to continue down this bloodstained corridor, but I find it hard to gain the courage to enter into the next room because this game is so terrifying. In Condemned: Criminal Origins by Sega, you play as Thomas, a FBI agent tracking down a demented serial killer who has framed you for murder. The audio and visual elements of this game are truly masterful and makes for some seriously scary environments like an abandoned shopping mall or a shut down high school. The artificial intelligence is proof that game makers are taking a step in the right direction, and the game play is noticeably realistic. The problem is that the game’s storyline is comparable in quality to having a movie about an automated fighter jet that just happens to get struck by lightning and becomes a killing machine… Regardless this game is hands-down the scariest video game I have ever played.

This is one of the few games that the audio actually does more of the scaring than the actual monsters or scenery. You can hear the baddies’ footsteps, and even hear them breathe and moan relative to where they are located in the room! My game play went something like this: sitting at the entrance to a run down high school locker room I hear moaning coming from down the room; as I inch forward, the pattering of footsteps quickly pans from the left speaker to right and the silhouette of a man bolts by the screen and knocks open a locker as he barrels past; I freak out and cower into the nearest corner. This is the level of fear I experienced throughout the entire game. Never have I played a game that actually made me want to put my character’s back against the wall the entire game for fear of the freaky criminals that lie around me.

Every environment is designed to play off your deepest fears, and it is like living in a horror movie. The places you go are crafted meticulously to bring out what truly scares you. In the abandoned shopping mall, you walk through the atrium and you hear eerie Christmas music while a blood stained, crudely ornamented tree sits dimly lit. Scenes like this are just some of the disturbing sights this game has to offer. And the best part is you go through the entire game with a flashlight being your main, and usually, only source of light.

At this point in time, the game play is about as close as you can get to video game realism. All objects in the game are moveable, so when you accidentally brush up against a locker or kick a can, you hear and see it. Also the game relies heavily on the use of melee weapons, and firearms are rarely seen or used. The bad guys respond quite realistically to a hit from a shovel or conduit you just ripped out of the wall, and they will try and take a cheap shot or block you wherever they can. The “crime scene investigation” part of the game was better than I expected, and you have fun looking for and collecting blood and trace samples from a mangled body. I must admit I enjoyed taking pictures, using UV light, and gas chromatographs to find clues to advance in the game.

The only terrible part about this game is localized entirely in the story line. The story starts out keeping you intrigued; it feels like you’re playing a movie about this FBI agent following the lead of a serial killer who frames you; and you unravel clues as you proceed. Then somewhere towards the middle the game, the story dive-bombs like a German Stuka. You find out that you have a superpower, that bird’s brains are mysteriously dissolving, and that normal people are starting to become murderous for no apparent reason; which all go completely unexplained. I definitely left the game with chills down my spine, but also pretty pissed off that they couldn’t write a decent ending or tie together any loose ends. The only way you learn about what everything means is by unlocking documents by finding dead birds and metal shards hidden throughout the game. This bothers me because I, Joe Consumer, want to play a game through and learn about the whole ordeal in some badass cut-scenes or something, not in unlocking stupid documents that hint at the meaning of everything. Going into this game I was going to give it a perfect score, but specifically because of the lack of consideration for a decent storyline, I degrade the rating from a 5 to a 4.

4 out of 5 Skulls

Source: Buy it here