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Condemned: Criminal Origins
  opened by paleface at 04:45:09 02/06/06  
  last modified by paleface at 19:34:15 11/25/06  
  paleface [sys=XBX3; cat=Adventure; loc=NA]
Played from a first-person view, Condemned sends you into dark, rotting industrial buildings, hunting down some kind of crazy killer, who seems to have a lot of other crazy killer friends working for him, sporting pipes and clubs.
Your cop character has a gun, a flashlight, and little magic detective gadgets that somehow find evidence just by playing a colored light beam around a room in a little PDA minigame. You lose your game right off the bat (har!), pretty much, and while you run into your annoyingly slow-talking commander later in that first level, all he throws you to help you out is an axe. Gee, thanks.
So you trundle rather slowly through dank corridors of the building, clambering through irregular holes in plasterboard walls and so on, in supposed pursuit of these demented killers, who every once in a while jump out from somewhere and come at you one or two at at time. Then you have a little club-swinging battle. It's not all that easy to judge range from the first-person view, but I guess they did about as well as could have been expected with it. I wonder if the combat gets a little more interesting later in the game, though.
At other times, little scripted things happen trying to spook you, like your flashlight dimming a bit, or a can falling over (OMG did someone around the corner push it?!?!), or a door at the end of the hall closing as you approach.
The graphics are okay, although some of the people look at little leatherfacey with the displacement mapping they used, and the framerate doesn't feel quite as smooth as one would like. Part of this impression may have to do with the the movement in general, which feels slow, and sort of cludgey when you run into corners and get held up. It's particularly annoying when friendly NPC characters are around, because they somehow fill up entire hallways, sporting shoulder-mounted force field extensions that prevent you from passing their slow asses up.
A particularly irritating example of this force-field phenomenon occurred when my chief tossed me the axe. I walk into yet another filthy room, and find I can't move through the far doorway, which looks open and accessible. There's some sort of yelling somewhere, which I ignore at first, but, not being able to go through the damn door, I finally listen to my friend, who's telling me to turn around, and find the chief talking through a window at me from a window across the way. He throws me an axe eventually, but proceeds to talk for what felt like another minute, with me having nothing to do, and not being able to go through the doorway. Argh.
Stuff like this happened at other times too, come to think of it--all in the first level, mind. Once I got out of some cutscene that didn't really make sense, and couldn't move. Some jerk was wasting time babbling on my cell phone (why am I always taking calls in the middle of stalking the enemy?), and meanwhile I couldn't move. Grr. And then there's a lovely scripted part where you get separated from your gun, and again can't move as the villain slinks off--can't even stand up straight, in fact. Oh, and later you get grabbed, and just have to sit there while he shoots a bunch of your buddies, holding you with one arm. So he's super-strong or something? Or my character is a weenie? Eh. I think these types of sequences could have been handled better.
And, I don't know, I guess slowly blundering through rotting buildings, having the occasional little pipe vs 2-by-4 fight, doesn't really do all that much for me.

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