Gaming Today Impressions of Condemned 2: Bloodshot

condemned 2: bloodshotCondemned 2: Bloodshot
Developer: Monolith
Publisher: SEGA
Price: $59.99
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
Category: Action/Adventure, Psychological Horror
ESRB: “M” for Mature
Release Date: 3/12/2008

When I first heard that the folks over at Monolith were making a sequel to Condemned: Criminal Origins, I was both excited and leery at the same time, because let’s face it, sequels are not usually up to par with the original. Granted, the God of War titles seem to do justice to our favorite Spartan, but that cannot be said of the majority of sequels sitting on shelves. My initial disquiet over another offering of Ethan Thomas and the maimed world in which he resides seemed to mitigate slightly when I viewed the first set of screenshots from the game, and the more I saw, better I felt. The trailers looked great, the weapon selection was both pacifying and hilarious at the same time, and the overall ambiance the trailers portrayed finally allowed me to let my guard down completely for Condemned 2: Bloodshot. However, before I get too far ahead of myself, I would like to point out that while this was indeed a very fun and entertaining game, it was far from perfect. So far, to be quite honest, that afterwards when I had played through it a second time, I started to feel extremely let down.

The storyline for Condemned 2: Bloodshot takes place a few months after Ethan’s harrowing ordeal at the hands of the serial killer SKX. He has left the SCU and is nothing more than a shell of what he used to be and spends his time in a drunken stupor trying to escape the demons living within his tortured soul. Just when he thinks the SCU is finished with him, they pull him back in because, although a drunk, he still needs to tie up a few loose ends and help them find his buddy Van Horn who has gone missing. This is when things start to get a little strange, and my initial excitement over the game left me feeling slightly silly for being excited in the first place.

My high expectations for Condemned 2: Bloodshot were not wholly in vain mind you, but were also unrealistic. First off, the changes they made to the game, while interesting to say the least, were not necessary. When you can rip a toilet seat off and beat an assailant to death with it, there is no need to use different fisticuff combos to thwart a meth-head’s plans at bashing your head in. While some gamers may find hand-to-hand combat in this game fun, personally I was more interested in the environmental and man-made weapons, but that is just a player preference, therefore it did not ruin the game entirely for me like I originally thought that it would. Secondly, the other change was the forensic gadgetry that is at your disposal, and it is much more high-tech than Ethan’s last foray which means either the SCU was holding out on him the first time around or they were given a bigger budget within the past few months. These gadgets were very cool, but not only were they not put to use often enough, they were also a bit dodgy at times. To get the forensic evidence you need, you have to be in investigative mode and the slightest movement will pull you out if it with out you realizing it. Thirdly, the change that irritated me more than anything was Ethan Thomas himself. I stated in a previous post that he looks like a drunken Glen Danzig on a shower strike and I was not kidding. He is a hulking, pale, greasy looking guy, and while I understand that he is indeed a drunk and people with issues like that tend to forgo the occasional shower – his appearance is so very altered that he looks like a different character altogether. I could have understood this more if the storyline took place years later instead of mere months, so the total revamping of his appearance annoyed me and felt unrealistic.

condemned 2: bloodshotThis is not to say that the game was not enjoyable on some level. For instance, one particular area in which you are investigating is an abandoned doll factory, where all the little demented-baby dolls are ticking time bombs that laugh and gurgle as they crawl or waddle towards you. If one gets too close, it will pull its own string and -kaboom – you are nothing more than a mess for someone to sponge off of the walls. The good thing about these dolls though, is that you can use them as a weapon to fight this scrawny psychopathic female who fancies herself a clown and carries around a huge lollipop saw blade. There are also a couple of other different areas of the game that made me jump out of my gaming chair, but not near as many as the original. I do not know if this is because the heightened sense of urgency I felt in the first one was completely expected this time around, or this installment was just lacking in that department. Either way, it was not as scary as Criminal Origins, although the two times I was scared giddy were pretty cool; I refuse to spoil them for you here.

Weapons are whatever you make of them whether they are the aforementioned toilet seat, a 2×4 with nails, a pipe, bedpost or an empty bottle. Guns are present in the game, more so than the last one, but they are goal oriented, so basically if you are in need of a gun for a certain “mission” they magically appear in a lockbox or a locker. Ethan’s aim when using a gun is shaky though because, after all, he is a drunk. Thankfully, this little annoyance can be remedied because there is booze everywhere for you to chug when you feel the DT’s coming on. Eventually, you will have to fight your alcohol demon and the hallucinations it has spawned to reclaim your sanity and ultimately finish the game. Once you have finished Condemned 2, you can replay the game with only guns if you like, but be forewarned that this makes for a much shorter game that is also less environmentally immersive.

condemned 2: bloodshotReplaying the game with guns is not the only thing you can do once you have beaten the game. There is also the multiplayer aspect of the game, which personally I did not play, but I watched my boyfriend run amuck with some others in what appeared to be an unorganized melee frenzy with up to 8-players who seemed more hell-bent on shooting anything and everything than actually playing the game strategically. I think this is because the multiplayer seemed to lack a certain finesse and honestly looked more tacked-on than anything. I think this was the main reason that within fifteen minutes of playing, most of the online players quit and so did he. While the other online aspect of the game looked a heck of a lot more interesting, and definitely more fun, there was still nothing worth writing home to Mum about except maybe one. Called “Crime Scene”, it is basically a bunch of miscreants trying to keep the SCU from finding a head hidden in a box. While this was amusing to say the least, the newness wore off pretty soon. There is also “Bloodshot Fight Club” for you to try, which is nothing more than small missions where you have to complete a specific goal, beat up on some sickos in the arena and see how well you stack up to other players in the online leaderboards. None of these online games seem like they will win over anyone for a long period of time.

Condemned 2: Bloodshot posed a bit of a conundrum for me. On the one hand, I enjoyed some of the interesting changes to the game that made it feel fresh and different, but on the other hand I was disappointed. Between some of the tacked on storylines, some of which I did not divulge because I do not wish to spoil it for you, and a few slight changes to the game that I felt were unwarranted, made this one a perfect 50/50 for me. The gameplay mechanics have not changed too much, which is a good thing, and they may even be a bit smoother this time around, but at the same time the difficulty seemed dumbed-down a bit. I played the original game again the week before Bloodshot came out just to get back into the mindset, and maybe that was one of the reasons I was disappointed with this installment. The graphics, though, are fantastic, the NPCs add a depth to the storyline and are not annoying in the slightest, the music and other sound effects are perfect for the mood of the game, and the numerous areas in which Ethan goes in search of evidence add a nice change of scenery to the game which is both lush and interesting. Yet all of the good did not outweigh my feelings of being slighted somehow. I cannot quite pinpoint exactly why I felt this way, but I can only attribute it to the fact that I went in with too high of expectations, which as we all know, always leaves you feeling let down in the end mo matter what the situation. The lesson I learned with Condemned 2: Bloodshot was to keep both my excitement and disdain to a minimum – which is a nice 50/50 just like the game. You know, now that I think about it, you could say that Condemned 2 is brunch. Its not quite breakfast, its not quite lunch, but you get a decent meal.

I played Condemned 2: Bloodshot on the Xbox 360, but it is also available for the PS3. If you would like to read a more traditional review, head on over to 1UP and read Greg Ford’s thoughts on Ethan’s latest nightmare.

condemned 2: bloodshot

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