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Game review: Condemned

By Sean Mitchell, Wed 1 Mar 2006
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Publisher: SEGA    Developer: Monolith Productions    Released: 23rd March 2006    Players: 1    Rating: R18             

Condemned: Criminal Origins takes the formula made popular by Thomas Harris and films like Seven and cranks it up to insane proportions. As disgraced FBI agent Ethan Thomas, you’ll begin the adventure tracking the serial killer known as The Match Maker and trying to clear your name after an opening sequence that culminates with the murder of two police officers – killed with your gun. Simply put, everything goes wrong for Agent Thomas. Eventually, you’ll realise you’re tracking something else altogether through filthy subway tunnels, a creepy abandoned department store, and a school building from hell....not to mention a few other choice serial killer locales - why do these guys always hole up in an abandoned farmhouse? Right off the bat the atmosphere of the game is through the roof creepy. The areas you’ll visit display incredible details and completely reactive physics made possible by the power of the new hardware. Looking super-sharp at 720p, the graphics are cutting edge and almost photo-real, while the physics engine creates moment after moment of convincing sound and visual cues that really draw you into the action. It really can’t be stressed enough just how well this title uses positional audio and its incredible good looks to really sell the experience. The character models of the crazies you’ll come up against look fantastic, with great attention to detail, realistic facial expressions and animations that have to be seen to be believed.You’ll be constantly looking behind you as you make your way through a filthy, deserted department store filled with mannequins or the dank basement of a derelict middle school. The game is peppered with intense moments of fear as your character is prone to visions – you’ll see things that will make you question your sanity in grainy, nightmarish detail As you move through the dark environments you have only a small flashlight to illuminate the blackness and whatever you can scrounge from the immediate area for defense (pipes, axes, crowbars, locker doors, the occasional firearm with limited ammo, etc). Also throughout the game you’ll search for clues using your forensic tools such as a UV light lamps or gas spectrometers, from things like fingerprints, particles and chemical residues. The game auto-saves for you pretty liberally throughout each chapter, and you’ll be able to replenish your health with medical kits found scattered about the levels. Highly recommended for thriller junkies.

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