Condemned 2: Bloodshot Reader Review
I loved Condemned: Criminal Origins. It was the best launch game on the 360, and is still one of the most original games on the system IMO. Featuring hand-to-hand combat more brutal that most dedicated fighting games, and one of only 2 games that are genuinely scary (the other being Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth) I even had to turn it off at one point as I was that freaked out (the now infamous 'mannequin bit' in Bart's Department Store.)
With this in mind I had high hopes for the sequel. Despite mixed reviews dampening my enthusiasm a bit I still went ahead and picked it up last Friday and finished it at 2am last night.
I'm going to start by saying that I really enjoyed this game. No-one does a better job of creating the grimiest filth-encrusted examples of urban shitholes than Monolith, and as most of the game is played in the dark (with what must be the feeblest torch in existence) they manage to create some really unpleasant places to be. The graphics are generally excellent, with only a tiny bit of occasional slowdown to spoil things.
The promised much-improved combat in Bloodshot is, well, much-improved. You can now attack without a weapon and punch with each hand separately (with the L & R triggers.) This opens up the possibility of some interesting combo attacks, which are initally tricky but soon become second nature to pull off. The combat is even more nasty than the first game, which is quite an achievement in itself, with Manhunt style environmental kills the icing on the (blood soaked) cake. I really liked the combat by the end of the game, although once you get good at it it does tend to spoil the tension as you start to feel like an invincible killing machine with fists like sledgehammers... (I played on 'hard' mode straight off the bat and despite a couple of tricky sections I would say the game is fairly easy overrall.) I still prefer the weapon combat mechanics, and loved scavenging the environments to see what tasty lump of metal to wrap round some unfortunate's head will turn up next.
The CSI style forensic sections are vastly improved over the first game. I absolutley loved those bits. You are given much more freedom in how you go about them and they are well thought out and interesting to solve. A bit too easy in places but maybe I'm just clever!
What I loved the most about the original was the atmosphere. Monolith took an urban environment that most of us are familiar with and twisted it into a 'world gone wrong' nightmare vision of filth and scum. Sneaking round in the dark desperately tring to find something (anything!) to use as a weapon to smack the crazed loons you could hear creeping and gurgling in the dark was a great experience and one that few games have ever been able to match. C2:Bloodshot manages to evoke the same feelings - for the first half of the game. Around the middle of the game it somehow loses it's way with the plot and locations and doesn't 'feel' like a true Condemned game any more. It's a combination of the plot going off in a too fantastical direction coupled with a change of environments that make it lose the very thing that made the original great IMO. The enemies get more ridiculous - think Silent Hill style weirdness (at one point I actually laughed as a new enemy was introduced - hardly the right response surely!) it's more scary when it's based in real world familiarity.
There is more of an emphasis on guns in parts of the game as well. They work well, and it is a good FPS, but Condemned was never about being an FPS so it all felt a bit wrong to me. Like I wasn't playing the game I wanted to. I still enjoyed it a lot, but if I was making the game I would have done things differently.
The 'Condemned Fight Club' mode is great as you just get to bash the shit out of tramps in arena-style battles. There are different modes like 'see how many kills you can get in 5 minutes' etc and it's great fun if you're sick in the head like me. Haven't tried the multiplayer yet but I may add to this review when I have.
Overall a great game, but strangely disappointing as it's not as great as it could or should have been.
8 / 10