Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Condemed: Criminal Origins

This game seems to be considered as the sleeper game of the launch.

Not for me, really.

Looks nice (but not great), sound is a bit muddy compared to the crystal clear sound in the other three games, and it seems to be a reasonably atmospheric first person shooter with the emphasis on creepy. The problem for me is that I just played King Kong two hours ago, and too much is similar. In Condemned, it's lots of corridor crawling. In King Kong, it's rocky corridors through caves and whatnot. In essence, though, it's the same thing.

This is also one of those damned games that is so dark you're constantly using the flashlight. At least it doesn't run out of juice every twenty seconds like in F.E.A.R. (also a Monolith game), and the first hour of this game is far more tense, to me, than the first eight levels of F.E.A.R. were. But using that flashlight constantly is really pretty fatiguing, at least to me. Playing this game for an hour straight was at the outer edge of my tolerance level.

The plot's also a bit off. In a very early level, you're chasing a crazed killer because he took your gun. So let me get this straight: he took my gun and I'm going after him (for quite a while) with a pipe? Hmm. Bad, bad idea. Did I graduate from the Police School for the Mentally Disabled?

Gameplay is relatively straightforward. Root through the buildings and look for the bad guys, then kill them. They do some nifty things with evidence collection in terms of high-tech forensic tools, but they also lead you by the nose to do it (which is actually necessary, so it becomes more gloss than gameplay, really, although it's still a nice touch). The core gameplay, though, is nothing new whatsoever.

That's just the opening few levels. I stopped at a point where I had escaped into a subway, and it may well improve further into the game. It's good enough for me to come back to it later and keep playing, but I certainly wasn't amazed or anything like that.

It's still difficult for me to play first-person shooters on consoles, and that might partly account for my lack of enthusiasm. It's so much more difficult with an analog pad than being able to use a mouse to look. I far prefer third-person games on the console.

One thing that both Condemned and King Kong do a nice job with is the HUD. In Condemned, the HUD is just one small damage bar, and in Kong Kong, there's no HUD at all, which is a very nice design touch--it's much more immersive that way.

So I'd slot this above King Kong but below NBA2K6.

Eli 4.3 just came home from pre-school, so the posting schedule may include more delay between posts now. I'm still going strong in terms of being able to play, though, so right now there's no sign of stopping.

Next up: Kameo.

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