Monday, July 13, 2009

Beaten : Condemned 2 : Bloodshot

It's taken me a few weeks after encountering the Condemned 2 Lost Saves Bug to get back to the game, taking every precaution to avoid a recurrence, but now that I have I can say I'm glad I did.

Condemned 2 : Bloodshot is a true sequel, taking place some time after the first game, with the main character now a smelly drunk. He again gets pulled into the city's worst neighborhoods for a creepy adventure that, thankfully, explains some of the unsolved mysteries of the first game while taking the story into a whole new direction.

When I say a whole new direction, I mean it. The story that unfolds is fantastic, with characters that come and go and motives that are revealed over the course of the game. As with the first Condemned game, the adventure takes the player through some unique and varied levels, such as an abandoned doll factory and a derelict bowling alley.

There's even a cool revisit to a part of a level from the first game, which might sound like a lazy design decision at first, but instead makes sense in terms of story, as well as earning a lot of points for having the corpse of an enemy boss from the first game lying right where you left it.

The melee combat that made the first title a refreshing landmark is expanded on greatly in the sequel, with all sorts of combo attacks added, as well as quicktime event kills and environmental kills to keep things interesting. There are more guns on some of the levels, so much so that the player can complete the level fully armed.

Sadly, but probably smartly, the taser got nerfed. It has limited charges in Condemned 2, so batteries must be found much like ammo. And when aiming anything, it's a good idea to be a little drunk. That's right, not since The Bard's Tale games has the player actually needed to keep drinking to play more effectively.

The investigative stuff is back, this time with four selectable items : A GPS, a spectrometer (it picks up sounds and smells), a UV light, and a digital camera. All of them are used in creative ways to get through the game, and the player is scored on their investigative prowess. Investigations really add a lot to Condemned games, but with both of them I was left wanting more.

The game's autosave system works well enough, but sometimes has rough checkpoints that put the player strangely far back from a critical point. Another complaint is the lack of a target reticule for throwing items. There are times in the game where an item must be thrown very precisely, and only the flashlight can provide any guidance on where to aim - and it sucks for that.

I dub Condemned 2 : Bloodshot as "The Game That Doesn't Want You To See", as the player is often in areas that are so dark that the flashlight doesn't help, or subject to sonic waves that distort everything, or forced to wear a scratched-up, vision-impairing oxygen mask. It's just silly sometimes, but I suppose it all makes sense.

Another minor complaint is that the character of Rosa has changed from a chunky, motherly, African-American woman in her thirties to a skinny African-American woman in her twenties. None of this is explained.

Minor complaints (and the major one) aside, Condemned 2 : Bloodshot is a great sequel that certainly expands on the combat, the characters, and the story started in the first one. The ending sets up for one hell of a sequel, too, and I certainly hope that there is one in the works. The two titles of the Condemned series make up this gaming generation's premiere horror experience, and there's certainly potential for it to become a trilogy that will be talked about for years.

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