Condemned 2: Bloodshot

Crime scene investigated.

"It's fun watching them burn," says Frank Rooke, lead designer on Condemned 2: Bloodshot. He's talking about tramps.

Tramps are an integral part of the sequel to Monolith's 360 launch title, and they're particularly important to the new Fight Club mode. First rule of the new Fight Club mode: you do talk about it. Especially about setting fire to tramps.

Rooke explains that Fight Club was initially developed to help Monolith test the game's combat system. It was a key concern when they came to make Condemned 2. "We wanted to take the fighting mechanism much further than before," he says. "In the first game it was mainly just one-handed. Now we want a system with depth, options and AI operating in all different ways."

Greatest hits

So, guess what's better than punching with one hand? It's punching with two. You can also kick, grab and throw enemies and perform combos, choosing from medium or heavy attacks. Or have a go at slamming their heads into televisions or stamping on their necks. All this is presented in glorious technicolour gore-o-vision and accompanied with lots of pained yelps, crunching noises and swearing.

And of course there are weapons. Just as in the first game, you get guns but you can also make use of objects like bricks, pipes and sledgehammers. Combining weapons produces interesting effects. For example, you can smash a bottle of alcohol over an enemy and then use your Taser to set them on fire. Hours of tramp-burning fun for all the family.

Well, not all the family, as Condemned 2 will end up with an 18 rating. That's assuming it isn't banned outright following the Manhunt 2 debacle, but Rooke says he's not concerned. "Our job is to make this game as fun as possible. As far as self-editing goes, so far all we've done is try to accomplish in the game what we feel it should be.

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I was going to give up when the ban came in, but in the end I just switched to lights.

"But, on the flipside, we're planning on working with the ratings system prior to submitting. So if there are any red flags we'll take care of those well in advance."

Could be they'll have a hard time justifying the gratuitous violence of Fight Club mode though. Rooke says it's not the main multiplayer component of the game, just a fun add-on with various modes and connected leaderboards (and a handy way of demoing combat).

You can choose whether you want to fight tramps or thieves. You can fight them off with firearms or go for melee combat, and you can decide whether the tramps you're about to burn are hocked up on alcohol, drugs or petrol. The bottom line is: you can fight them, again and again, in an intensely violent fashion. And burn them.

Scare story

Fight Club mode will surely offer a useful way to practice your combat skills for Condemned 2's single-player game. Here, once again, you are Ethan Thomas, ex-FBI agent and stranger to anger management. And, once again, you'll find yourself wandering round a series of seedy, dimly lit environments battering things over the head and being frightened.

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Some of the environments are a bit less scary when you're armed with a better weapon than a brick.

Rooke doesn't seem too happy about having to demo the game on a shiny plasma screen under the glaring lights of the Leipzig Convention Centre. "You know, Condemned is meant to be played in the dark."

Still, it's easy to see the kind of atmosphere they're going for as he explores an abandoned building. Bare lightbulbs swing from the ceilings and inexplicably pop, rottweilers bark furiously through locked doors, strange shapes scuttle around in the darkness and things go "oooeoeeeeAARGH" in the night.

There are also a lot of tellies lying around blaring out white noise. Rooke shows how you can grab their aerials to tune them in and pick up different bits of the story. You can't hang around too long though, or you'll get decked by another one of those funny men with blood coming out of their eyes.

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