Ethan Thomas returns to star in another hallucination happy killing spree in Condemned 2: Bloodshot. Picking Up after the events of the first Condemned experience, Monolith prepares gamers to fight evil in the veil of madness. Condemned 2: Bloodshot walks on the edge of sanity, bringing gamers into its seedy underworld.
I’m glad to see that SEGA and Monolith Studios decided to follow up Condemned with a sequel. Released in 2006 Condemned: Criminal Origins introduced gamers to a more up and personal way of exploring the first person perspective gaming. Focused heavily on plot developments, Condemned blended action perfectly with the suspense and horror of a survival horror game with the action of a methodical shooter. In Condemned 2: Bloodshot, it’s more of the same fisticuffs and demented visions that frequented the original. Improved and expanded, Bloodshot is still an original game that dares leaps into the darkness when other games just skim the outside.
The Blurred Lines of Reality
To enjoy Condemned 2 it’s not necessary that you’ve finished, or even played the original Condemned. I would highly recommend gamers taking a look at the first Condemned, if you’re interested in the series, or have only played Bloodshot. For a little back-story on the game, your character, Ethan Thomas is an investigator in the Serial Crimes Unit, think FBI meets CSI. In Condemned you track down a notorious killer named Serial Killer X who has been tracking down and killing other serial killers. The story falls into a number of strange circumstances that has Ethan accused of murdering his fellow offers, putting him on the run from the law while trying to clear his name. This is only the tip of the iceberg as the strange enters the picture which takes Condemned from an ordinary murder mystery styled game into a LSD influenced trip to hell.
Bloodshot picks up a year later with Ethan deteriorated self wandering around into a confused and disgraced alcoholic. Suspended from the force, you meet Ethan with his new rough edge look in a bar and follow him down the rabbit hole. The only exception is that you won’t be staying for tea with the mad hatter; you will be chasing down the dark side of humanity and stalking those who stalk you. Like before, Ethan still suffers from horrific hallucinations and the blurred lines between the real and fabricated starts twisting the plot creating an interesting dark epic. The story gets a little carried away near the end, but if you take it for what it is, you'll find its good enough to carry them into another dark voyage.
Turn off the Lights
As the levels start you’ll be in the typical “Condemned” setting featuring abandoned warehouses, cracked out hotels. Then Bloodshot gets a little more interesting taking you into a doll factory and other creepy atmospheric areas. Like the original there are lots of moments when Monolith tries to get you jump, and depending on your resistance to get spooked, I can imagine a lot of gamers jumping. Even though turning off the lights will make the experience that more creepier, I strongly suggest that you try and get the most out of the game by trying to give yourself a few jolts. If you’re wondering if Condemned 2 is scarier than the original, I would say they are on par with each other. Criminal Originals had some shinning moments like the old school and vicious lunch lady, however Bloodshot comes up with a few interesting ideas as well.
Hello face, How Do You Like My Fist?
Following the original, the combat in the game is usually a melee affair with guns playing a partial role in the action. In Bloodshot, Ethan can now use his fists in the game to deliver a few rounds with the left and right triggers/buttons acting’s as each arm. Condemned 2 also introduce combination moves that will amplify the damage along with environmental kills similar to the game, The Punisher. Environmental kills can happen when you have your opponent stunned and wavering on their knees. You then press both triggers/buttons together and grab them in a head-lock. You can now drag them around and look for a skull icon that represents a killing hot spot. These can be very brutal and include kicking someone’s teeth down a toilet, or even crushing their head in a steel press... ouch!
A New Set of Boots
The weapons this time around are in the similar vein, but have been upgraded to more choices. Weapons will also play a slightly larger role in the game, but you will still be limited on ammunition and access to these weapons. In this respect I liked the pacing and shortage of ammo and firearms in the original a little more, although the riot shotgun is a blast. Condemned 2 also add the ability to upgrade your character with rewards depending on how well you do in a level. Graded on three levels (Bronze, Silver, and Gold) you will receive rewards that help you in the game and make the character feel like he is progressing as well. A small sample of the upgrades include Brass Knuckles to do more damage, Rubber Boots for quieter sneaking, and Gun holster to store one firearm.
It's CSI, Condemned Style
Condemned 2 explores and expands upon the forensic area of the game. The forensic spots in the game help buffer the action so you can a few moments to rest. The foresnic spots help involve the player into the plot and keep them aware beyond punching and shooting. These spot move past simple point and clicking and add in an element where you have to use your common sense and determine aspects about a crime by examination. When you examine an area for example a dead body, you might be required to identify the body by zooming into the face and determine the victims age, and gender. You can even be asked to take photographs, or find trails of blood with a black UV light. When you find you evidence a drop down list pops up and you’ll have to pick from a list of choices. After each part of the forensic questions has been filled out, you submit your answers all at once. Adding an element without clear answers is pretty interesting in Condemned 2 that keeps the player attentive to their surroundings and the plotlines.
New Ways To Play
For extras Condemned 2 offers a few nice additions. First would have to the new offering of multiplayer. Now right off the bat, Condemned 2 isn’t going to rival any other shooters online simply because this is more of a hand to hand deal. Online consist of a bunch of people running around beating each other down in a frantic messed up frenzy. There is also another mode called Crime Scene that puts one team trying to find an item and other team that has to keep them from finding it. The Crime Scene mode is an interesting idea and breaks up from the 2x4 to the face. Both modes are fun for a few runs, but then the multiplayer runs its limit and becomes rather dull.
Condemned 2 also feature another new mode called, Bloodshot Fight Club. This offers up a few mini-missions of sorts based solely on combat. The Fight Club can be used to boast a top score on the international leader boards, or to tune up your fighting skills, and unlock achievements on the Xbox 360. I really enjoyed the Bloodshot Fight Club addition in Condemned 2. For all the games that have included “Fight Club-ish” modes in their game, I feel like Bloodshot is the first game that captures the gritty real or unreal setting of a fight club.
Lastly, finishing the fight in Bloodshot unlocks a new way to play through the single player campaign FPS style. The unlock FPS mode gives Ethan the right to bare arms and take on the enemies with firepower instead of fists. The action is basically the same as completing the game on hard, and then with the guns into play, it balances it out to give gamers a fresh way to relive the experience. In no way would I substitute the FPS mode for the real game, so I am glad this only offered as an unlockable.
In the audio and graphics department, Monolith keeps up the creep factor with its twisting level design, freakishly animated enemies and top-notch audio. Keeping the atmosphere in the dark and gritty world is key, and Bloodshot doesn’t slip for a moment. The Lithtech engine has come along way and Condemned 2 is more visually impressive then their last effort keeping up with any other top performing next-gen. title.
If I had to make a negative observation about Condemned 2’s graphics it would be that the framerate can stutter in a few situations which never hampers the flow of the game. Despite, getting a little bogged down, condemned is masterpiece in horror adding nice textures of disturbance in both the audio with its soundtracks, voice work, and ambient sounds and the graphics with all the little details adding up perfectly.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot takes everything the original game offered and expands on the gameplay with new combat mechanics and upgraded forensics spots. It might lack the same intensity level as the first game, but it offers up a good fright. The new Bloodshot Fight Club and the FPS mode offer more reliability than the first game, and if you can handle the madness online, your welcome go 8 on 8 with psycho killers around the globe. Gamers who enjoyed the first Condemned will fall right into place with the new edgier Ethan as you fall into another rabbit hole of insanity. If you are looking for alternative first-person shooter, Condemned 2: Bloodshot survival horror element is interesting enough to keep you hooked until the ride is over.
Gameplay: 8.5, Graphics:8.5, Sound:9, Innovation: 8, Mojo:9 Final: 8.6 / 10