With any new console always comes a slew of launch titles from a mix of different genres. As with every such lineup, most games are playing it safe and just goes through the motion, familiarizing themselves with the new hardware. Well today we are going to discuss a game that is different from most games we have seen in recent years. The game is from Monolith Productions and is entitled Condemned: Criminal Origins. So does this game have what it takes to take the title of being the best game at the Xbox 360 launch? Read our full review to find out!
One thing that I was a little disappointed with on the Xbox 360 launch was that Condemned was the only game out of the whole launch lineup that I really felt was different from all the others. So let’s talk about Condemned: Criminal Origins from Monolith Productions, who just came out with the extremely popular F.E.A.R., which many have considered one of the best PC games of 2005. So could Condemned have the same success on the 360?
So let’s start talking about Condemned. Let’s begin with the story, which I have to say was a pretty engaging sequence of events. Basically you take the role of FBI Agent Ethan Thomas, who is caught in the wrong place and the wrong time. Ethan is a part of the Serial Crime Unit and a series of events took place that made him look like the guilty party. Obviously I want to save the story for you to enjoy, because it is so engaging and so intense that spoiling it now would really spoil a huge chunk of the game. So you are off as Ethan is basically trying to right the wrongs, and find out who was really responsible for these tragic events. The story ended up being something that really drives the rest of the game, and at many portions it keeps you on the edge of your seat.
One thing that many will be surprised about right off the bat is that guns are not a huge portion of the Condemned experience. In fact, right at the onset of the game, you are left with just a measly taser gun, a cell phone, and some forensic tools. This may turn off some people, but for those that played Monolith’s other game this year F.E.A.R. may feel just right at home. You will realize that the developers were going for the same sort of idea in Condemned, and that is to use the atmospheric approach to make it entertaining.
The main weapons to use in this game are actually the ones that you find around the environments. So if you see a nice slab of wood somewhere, or something that looks like it could hurt someone, chances are you can use it as a weapon. This implementation of an endless weapon supply is actually pretty neat and makes the game feel more realistic. The gameplay mechanics themselves do take some time to get acquainted with. I had a little trouble at the onset of this adventure getting used to the hand to hand combat, but it is something that does come with time and works extremely well.
What I liked about Condemned was that it was different. It wasn’t the same FPS experience that have shoved to gamers for years. In fact Monolith was very successful once again by implementing a very atmospheric type of gameplay that worked well. The game wasn’t perfect; it had some flaws that slowed it down a bit, but the final result was just a very well rounded playing game. I liked the first person hand-to-hand combat, the game’s pace and story were good. The only real problem that I ran into was the very repetitive linear feel that you got with the game. At times it just felt like you were doing the same thing over and over again, and that was something that could have been improved before releasing.
When you look at the pretty long list of launch titles for the Xbox 360, there were very few of the games that actually took advantage of this new hardware. In fact out of all the launch titles, Condemned was one of the few that I felt actually looked "next gen". The one word I used in the gameplay portion of this review was "atmospheric", and that is what Monolith did so well. The whole game is set in a very dark world, and the developers just made a good use of lighting and character models to make the whole visual style come together.
I have to say that both the environments and character models were detailed beautifully. There was very little in the game that wasn’t jam packed with great detail, and for that you have to give credit to the developers for doing a great job with new hardware. Sure Condemned won’t be remembered as the best looking 360 launch titles, but it definitely has enough great things going on to be considered "one of the best".
At the beginning of Condemned: Criminal Origins, I was a little taken back by the game’s challenging gameplay. I was not very talented at the hand-to-hand combat, and the overall dark appearance of the game wasn’t appealing to me at first. But as the game progressed, the combat became more intuitive and the gameplay itself just felt extremely interesting. So the big thing about this game is that once you get over the steep learning curve at the beginning, there is a lot to enjoy in this game.
Condemned: Criminal Origins is a game that I would consider "solid all across the board". There was nothing about this game that was essentially wrong, but at the same time there was still room for improvement. If you are a 360 owner and are looking for a true "next generation" experience, Condemned: Criminal Origins is one of the few games that you are going to be able to do this in.
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