Condemned 2: Bloodshot - Review
By Dillon - March 16, 2008
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
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Does this sequel manage to thrill?
The original Condemned was a 360 launch title that was met with moderate success. It delivered scares, and a fun but flawed fighting engine. Now Condemned 2 brings you back for a second fright, and what a fright it is. The visuals and audio do a fantastic job of immersing you into the original and well thought out story. The gameplay keeps you in the action at all times with great success. Turn the lights out and crank the volume to max, this ones ready to scare the hell out of you.
The visuals are stunning, with good textures and incredible lighting. The effects are top notch, for example, there’s tar all over the place in a few levels. You have a flashlight but since black absorbs light the tar naturally makes it very hard to see. It’s these kinds of subtle details that really make Bloodshot stand out. You’ll always find something impressive to look at, be it a brutal crime scene or a run down bowling alley. There’s a lot of variety in the visuals as well, with many locales and enemies to view, each getting progressively more obscene. The framerate is not as stable as you’d like it to be. It dips frequently when the action picks up, but for some reason I found it didn’t hamper the experience all that much. There are also a few graphical glitches and the facial animations aren’t all that impressive. Still, it’s a vast improvement over the first and it holds up well to today’s standards.
The audio is even better than the visuals with moody music and convincing sound effects. You’ll be beating on the baddies with many different objects and each one sounds great. A piece of wood with nails on the end of it sounds much different than a hammer when bashed across the face of your foes. The voice acting is pretty good overall, and the dialogue is decent. The F bomb gets dropped a lot but usually it’s not too over the top. The music does a great job of setting the mood and it blends in with the action well. All the audio effects sound fantastic and when paired with the visuals they make for a frightening time.
The story is surprisingly clever, with a few twists you won’t see coming. You play as Ethan Thomas, a former Special Crimes Unit investigator turned alcoholic. You’re called back to duty once again, for what seems like a simple search operation, but there’s more going on than Ethan realizes. Through a series of twists and turns you discover an organization named ORO is trying to kill you. Now it’s up to you to find out why and then do something about it. The plot is unraveled nicely but the ending does leave a lot to be desired. Hopefully another sequel eventually ties up the loose ends.
The Gameplay in Bloodshot is very similar to the first game, however the controls and game mechanics have been improved greatly. The Fighting mechanics in particular feel much smoother, and have much more depth. Bloodshot is primarily focused on melee combat with either your fists or several objects in the environment. There are many guns in the mix as well but ammo is scarce until the later levels where enemies carry firearms frequently. During melee combat you must use combo attacks as well as blocking and parrying to dispatch your foes effectively. Once you get the hang of it, brutal abilities like environmental finishers are revealed. The AI is actually very smart most of the time, for example, you get into a fight and the baddie runs away. You follow, only for him to surprise attack you from behind a wall. The enemies’ intelligence is not perfect however, as sometimes they will let you pick them of from afar with a rifle. Still, quite a few of these guys managed to scare the living hell out of me. I don’t want to spoil anything as they’re all very creepy. Let’s just say there are two chase sequences that will have you completely on edge. Aside from the combat, you’ll be asked to gather evidence, take photographs, and investigate crime scenes. This time around you really get to be involved with the forensics, whereas in the first game you basically did none of the dirty work. In the first Condemned, for example, you’d be required to take pictures of crime scenes, and take blood samples, whatever. Well in Condemned 2 you actually get to go hands on and you’ll be required to break down each crime scene yourself, explaining exactly what happened. You’ll need to identify blood patterns, give an analysis of the victims, etc. and you’ll get a rating afterwards based on how well you do. It’s a good idea to do all the optional forensic tasks, and not just the required ones, since you get an overall rating on each mission. Based on how much work you did, you get a nice bonus such as increased firearm accuracy or a health bar upgrade.
Clocking in at about 10-12 hours Bloodshot is a decent length, rich with great content. After completing the main story you can play an arena-like mode that puts you up against various challenges. It’s a nice bonus and just beating the crap out the AI with all the different weapons in the game is a joy. The online mode is not bad, but I had a hard time finding that many rooms. It wont replace COD4, UT3, or Halo 3 as your next online obsession, buts its still fun. I recommend that you absolutely give this game a try. The combat is great and the scares are genuine. Being Condemned to play this one wouldn’t be too bad at all.
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