Condemned 2 could be described as a blood bathed horror title in which you spend countless hours beating up anything and everything with sharp, heavy and disgustingly crude objects. Whilst this description could be deemed as accurate, it is clearly missing the finer details of such a title, such as the skull crushing sound effects as you compress a head into a closing door to even the screams of a drooling drug addict, as you blow his face off with a point blank shotgun. This is not a game for children, nor an empty shock game (Ed – Manhunt comes to mind). It is beauty, it is horror… this is Condemned 2.
Placed in the middle of a city turned to chaos, you are a hopeless drunk without a care in the world. The introduction shows just how low your character has become as you pummel another’s face into a bloody mess, in between drinking yourself hopeless of course. This is the stories protagonist, Ethan Thomas. Taking place shortly after the events of the original you have since fallen hard on times and find yourself out of a job, alone and unable to hold a gun without a drink of hard liquor beforehand. Fighting your way through an unravelling storyline of murder and betrayal, not only are you expected to keep yourself alive in a cesspool of filth, but you are expected to clean it all up and tie up all the loose ends set by the original too.
You will fight your way through many different environments, all of which are equally disturbing, with little more than the environment itself at hand. An electrical pipe on the wall can be turned into a useful club or the pile of bricks scattered around most bends are more than building blocks. You can use these useful tools, and many many others, to strike yourself to safety as bums, drunks and psychopaths come jumping out of every shadow. Whilst you will find several weapons scattered throughout the story, they generally feel out of place and handle poorly, often resulting to the return of a piece of scenery. Without spoiling the storyline which awaits, you are left to investigate and figure out what is taking place throughout the city whilst you hone your ability to string strikes into combinations and finishers which can devastate even the largest enemies.
Whilst such a simple gameplay mechanic can sound rather timid and dull, it has been placed in such a surrounding that you will be thankful to have a piece of wood at the ready. Once again Monolith shines as a president for creating eerie yet beautiful environments which truly create an atmosphere which would scare a serial killer senseless. The clear attention to detail and ability to know just when to strike places Monolith as one of the best developers at creating set pieces in a game. Condemned is designed in such a fashion that you will find yourself relaxing at the moment when an enemy comes tearing through the wall and scares you half to death. The downfall of having so few bullets in weapons typically result in most of them being fired into the floor and ceilings in a fit of panic. Fans of F.E.A.R will know fully just what to expect.
Throughout all the chaos you will be required to investigate certain scenes and develop an understanding of what has taken place. To do this you will be provided with several forensic tools which can detect hidden substances or even the location of piercing noises. Upon locating the evidence you will be required to make the choices between what has happened, and depending on your answers you will be scored on your detective prowess. Is the bullet hole caused by a sharp or blunt object, or even perhaps a bullet? All of these small details will affect your progression in the game to some degree.
Graphically the game is surprisingly appealing. Not only are the environments detailed and fitting the style of gameplay, but the character models are superb and show a great range of emotion, especially during the many cutscenes placed throughout each level. Whilst the majority of the cast are pig or clown mask wearing maniacs that come and go in a blur, the main characters which will follow you throughout the story all hold their own unique style and pull off expressions beautifully. It would be unfair to leave the graphics without mentioning the fantastic use of shadows and lighting to take full advantage of the environments. Lighting is placed sparely and cleverly around the locations to lead a path to follow, yet leaving enough darkness for anything to lurk unknowingly.
Condemned 2 will last you a reasonable amount of time, especially if you wish to conquer the several game modes and difficulties available, not to mention the hidden items and unlockable extras scattered throughout the levels. However, if you are looking for that little extra, you could always give the online portion a try, although one should not get their hopes up. Whilst the online portion is appreciated and an effort has been made, the melee and combo heavy gameplay is not very fitting in multiplayer. The best online mode by far is the Crime Scene Investigations, where a team of investigators must locate and survey evidence, whilst a team of literal psychopaths must hide and defend such evidence. Unfortunately this mode and others are typically affected by troublesome lag and hit registration issues, as you find landing strikes simply hit empty air.
Overall Condemned 2 is fitting of any gamer which is in need of an action-adventure title that takes concepts from fantastic horror titles such as Silent Hill and Resident Evil, places them in a gritty modern environment and adds the fantastic directive set pieces we have come to expect of Monolith. You will be sure to find enough shocks and screams in order to make the purchase worth it, and may even go out of the experience without being mentally scared, looking for your next batch of murders (Ed – One can but hope).