Condemned: Criminal Origins Reader Review
CONDEMNED: CRIMINAL ORIGINS PC REVIEW
I decided to write this, purely because I stumbled across a few reviews of it, and they all gave it great scores and really liked it! I was AMAZED. I feel its almost like a public service to give a second opinion on this, incase anybody should actually buy this game. I couldn't sleep at night, thinking about that tragedy happening.
This is one of the worst games I have played in a long time. To me, THIS is a great example, of what is wrong with modern games. There is no substance, made by dummies, for dummies, emphasis on graphics, uninspired, un-original crap. Not only am I amazed, but I'm also very concerned that a lot of people liked this.
First off, I should mentioned a few disclaimers: 1) I am talking purely, about the PC version of this game. 2) I play on a high end PC with an 8800GTX etc, so all settings are set to as high as they go. 3) I do not know when this game was released. I saw it for the first time just a few weeks ago, so I'm not sure if its new or a few years old.
Ok so here goes...
This is one of the "dumbest" games I've ever played. Infact, I am amazed a company agreed to make this and that people put money into "the idea". Because... well.... whoever came up with the idea of this game, must have said something like this, "Duhhhhuhuhuhuheheheh! Wellllll, I gots this idea of a game... You are a cop... ok? And you got set up! And then.... well.... you run around bashing people on the head! HAHAHA!". So who in their right minds went along with this crap? What I suspect happened... is that there is something of a story here, and a few odd notables like collecting dead birds.... So, I suspect whoever "pitched the idea" to the people in charge, must have waffled on about the story, and the decision maker must have said, "Hmm, that sounds like enough of a story, for one of these fangled video games." And so they agreed for it to be made. What they should have said.... was this, "Ok so you have a basic cliched cop story, but what will the gameplay actually involve?". To which, if honest, the answer would have had to have been, "well, actually, you just run around bonking people over the head with things, and thats about it".
GAMEPLAY Ok so onto the "gameplay"... This is what you do for 99% of your time in this game. You pick up something for hitting people. Ok? A big stick... a metal pipe.... a shovel... that kind of thing. Then... you run around, and you hit people over the head with it! And... well.... thats really all there is to this game. But don't go rushing out with your credit card to buy it yet though, I'll try to explain a few more things.
COMBAT So how does the combat work? Well, here are the combat "mechanics" of this game. Listen carefully.. You press the left button on your mouse. That hits people. Ok? And if somebody tries to hit you... you press the right button on your mouse. Got that? Oh good. Because that is all there is to know about the combat in this game.
GRAPHICS This is just yet another game, where I suspect they spent 99% of their budget on the graphics. The gameplay, testing, script, and everything else, then took a back seat, because all the emphasis went on the graphics. BUT, when that usually happens... atleast the graphics are good :P This game seems to have done that, and yet the graphics didn't even turn out well. There is some kind of "film grain" effect used on everything, which just makes it look fuzzy and horrible. There is the occasional good texture, but mostly they look like they have been heavily blurred to improve frame rates. Few things have advanced bump mapping etc, and when it is used, it doesn't really look good. Compared to other games of today, the graphics are below average. Some of the animations are ok, although there are far too few. But overall, the game just looks bad, and the few good bits don't help it. The reason being, you spend 99.999999% of your time, in a fricken sewer. So you are constantly looking at slimey walls, and rusted iron grates on the floor etc... Some other fantastic locations include... an office... with green painted walls, and desks, and pipes showing everywhere. A lot like where my dad used to work in the 70's..... only with the lights out and zombies running around.
OTHER STUFF Part of the reason why I am so annoyed at this game, is that I knew nothing about it at all. If I had known it was a dumb head bonking game, I would have been prepared for it, or I could have just ignored it completely. I had been to my friend's house, and he said, "You HAVE to play this new game I've got!". (He has terrible taste in games). So he gave it to me to borrow for a while.
I get home and install it, and the intro starts, with a cop pulling into a dark alley in his car.... A guy bangs on the window, and you jump - because its scary. Its a very dark, scary, dangerous, moody looking alley. And the game gives off that vibe right from the start. Then you get lead under some police tape, in to a crime scene. All very promising stuff so far.
He leads you to the scene of the crime, and you are then introduced to your forensic tools. You have an ultra violet light, which highlights... organic matter or whatever... And you have some other cool forensic tools too. At this point I was thinking, "THIS IS GREAT!!!! FINALLY!! SOMEBODY HAS MADE A MODERN, GRITTY, DETECTIVE GAME!". Oh how wrong was I? I assumed, that it was going to be an adventure game. Picture Syberia, or Police Quest, or The Longest Journey, or whatever, but in a first person perspective. And instead of being some boring child friendly story, I thought it was going to be a gritty crime drama. Murder, abduction, violence, etc. So I was super excited, and I thought this was going to be great.
So that was the first 3 or 4 minutes of the game. From that point on... Everything went STEEPLY downhill, into some of the crappest gameplay ever. It quickly became apparent, that it plays like a first person shooter, not an adventure game. Then, it quickly becomes apparent, that you don't even have a gun most of the time!... There are very few guns in the entire game, and whenever you do find one, it only ever has a couple of bullets in. So 99% of the time... you do NOT have a gun, and instead, you have to use pipes, planks of wood, etc... to bonk people on the head with. So in other words, its a "first person head bonker". The first few kills like this, is fairly satisfying. You smash them in the face, and theres a bit of blood and stuff, and it knocks them back and to the side. After several more kills, you will likely start to get bored of it. Every time you hit someone, they all react the same way, with the exact same animation. Its quite a good animation... but seeing as its one of only a few animations in the entire game... then its not much of a consolation that it looks fairly good. Also, as I explained above, all the "combat" actually involves... is pressing your left mouse button to smack people, and if you see them about to smack you.. you press the right button. Its similar to Oblivion, only completely crap. (P.S. I didn't particularly like Oblivion either, but its a thousand times better than this game).
Also, almost the entire game is set in either pitch black darkness, or just with very minimal light. So you are given a flashlight (a torch), right from the start of the game. The problem is.... you are using it FOR THE WHOLE GAME! So if you have played DOOM3, you will probably appreciate how that can be a pain. The constant flickering, and constant feeling of tunnel vision... is just a horrible, claustrophobic, boring, irritating experience. I just find that ridiculous.
The next thing which becomes apparent, is that these cool forensic tools, are absolutely, completely redundant, and used in the worst possible way you can imagine. This is no detective saga at all. You aren't looking at a crime scene and trying to act like a real detective at all... What REALLY happens is this...
WORST USE OF FORENSICS IN A GAME EVER A box pops up saying, "Hey dumbo, now is the time to press T to use your forensic tool" (or something to that effect). So you press T, and it picks to appropriate tool for the job. Usually a camera. You then look through the camera, and you don't have to have ANY idea what to even look at... There is an arrow on each edge of the camera's view, and they show you exactly what to view in the camera.... Then a green light appears, so you click to take the picture. THEN, rather than doing anything with the picture yourself, it just automatically gets sent to some detective woman, who examines it, and then tells you over the phone, "Hmm interesting. This looks like a finger print! You should keep investigating!". Other forensic tools, include something which works in the exact same way as the camera, only it takes samples of liquid/powder/whatever. That too, gets sent automatically to this woman on the end of your cell phone, and she examines it and replies, "Hmm interesting. This looks like traces of blood! You should keep investigating!".
So basically, you do absolutely nothing, and you don't have to do, or think, about anything. You just run about bonking people on the head, in the crappest environments in any game ever, and every 10 minutes or so, a box pops up, telling you to press T. You press T, follow the arrows, click your mouse, and the woman on the phone reveals another boring piece of the cliched story, and then you can get back to the head bonking.
REDEEMING FEATURES? There are one or two I suppose. First off, its hard to completely slaughter this game, because it offers a few shocks. For example, you open a lot of cupboards looking for stuff inside (med kits etc..). And in one cupboard, a zombie jumps out and hits you. So it makes you jump, especially if you play it with the lights out. So its a "good ole, jump out of your seat, horror", which I find kind of.. cute.. and innocent. Like "the ghost train" at your nearest theme park. Ideal to scare the kids. But the truth... is that all those ghost trains suck. Its a dark room with a bunch of fake skeletons covered in silly string. And, this sucks too, in the same way.
Secondly, the story isn't THAT bad. Its no novel. But its no, "Demons are invading earth. Save the world" either. There are a couple of twists and turns. But unfortunately, I had absolutely no interest in it at all. I was just numb, and bored, the entire time I was "using" this game. (Can't say playing because its just not fun to me).
CONCLUSION The graphics reminded me a bit of Max Payne. Max Payne looked good at the time, but its old and dated now, and thats how this game looks. And while we're thinking about Max Payne, this game has a couple of similarities. Its a one cop crusade against, badness... with a few hallucinations etc. But where it differs, is that Max Payne had much better shooting, a better story, bullet time, and was over all a much more fun experience. This game has very rare shooting, no bullet time, a worse story, crappy head bonking combat, no interesting new features, sub standard graphics, horrible locations, and is crap.
I should probably add one final disclaimer I suppose.
Some people love this game. If any of you are reading this, I don't think you are dumb. I have nothing against you at all. But I suspect (atleast I hope), that what you are attracted to, is the scaryness of the game, and the tension. The "survival horror" aspect. If you like to be scared sometimes, and you also like the grittness of this game, then that is cool. And I appreciate that. I sometimes enjoy that too. But really, I think, infact I KNOW, that people are being ripped off. You can have that AND much more. But that will only happen if enough people vote with their wallets, and avoid games like this. When I was growing up, people knew how to make good games. (They don't make them like they used to... blah blah). But its true. A survival horror when I was younger, was probably something like "Alone In The Dark". That game was really creepy, and had great "style", but that game was also a thousand times more intelligent. It played like an adventure game, so you had to solve puzzles etc. Whenever you came across an enemy, it was terrifying, because combat could often be deadly and difficult. Not just bonk them on the head a few times.. And melee combat allowed you to swing the weapon to your left, right, and lunge forward with it. I think you could block too... And this is a game which is about 15 years old now! Its now 2007, and yet this is a first person head basher... Where is the progress?
So yes, a first person head basher.... Some people may like that. I think most people will find it mindless crap. To those of you who do like it, I hope you like it for a good reason, not because you like mindless, repetitive violence. But either way, you could have that, but with great AI, great story, great graphics, fantastic locations, tons of weapons, etc... You just need to demand more from these lazy, uncreative, game developers. There is a phrase, "Don't accept the second best". Well in this case, I say, "Don't accept the 9 billionth best".
To end on a movie analogy. As a gamer who, when thinking about "horror", would want a game equivelent of "An American Werewolf in London, The Omen, Texas Chainsaw Massacre(original), Etc...". I found this game to be in the same kind of league as "Troll 2".
4 / 10