I’m waving goodbye to my 20′s and to celebrate I’m counting down 30 games from the last 30 years. Join me while I countdown 30 great years of game memories.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot
Although its probably better known for its FEAR series, a series that I love dearly, it is Monolith Productions’ Condemned series that made me recognise just how brilliant that studio is. Both games are horror-inspired first person shooters, but while FEAR takes the more fast paced approach with a series of jump-scares, Condemned is a more plodding and atmospheric experience characterised by long silences between pulsing red fits of genuine heart-wrenching fear. Both games were released close to the launch of the Xbox 360, and while both had their merits, it was Condemned: Criminal Origins that had a lasting impact, leaving a lingering sense of unease that will remain in the back of your mind, rearing its head only when you are alone and vulnerable.
It was also a cracking game, successfully mixing excellent first-person melee combat with crime scene investigation elements, taking on the role of Ethan Thomas in a gritty search for Serial Killer X (SKX). Creeping around abandoned buildings with drugged-up loonies waiting in ambush, their footsteps echoing from the upstairs floor, is one of the moments that has defined this generation for me. While Condemned wasn’t perfect it was a great game that dared to be different and scored more hits than it did misses in the process.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot released in 2008 was a bigger, better and more ambitious game than its predecessor, managing to take what was good about the first game and make it even better. Ethan Thomas and disorderly returns a drunk man, scarred from the encounter with SKX, when he is recalled to help solve a series of murders that appear to be connected to that prior case. The story is a decent conspiracy story that takes a series of interesting twists and turns, but Condemned 2, like its predecessor, lives and dies by its gameplay. Luckily it lives up to its predecessor, delivering a brutal journey through a gritty, dirty, violent and crumbling city. The melee is more brutal, with more violent finishing moves to really earn that mature rating. It doesn’t add much to the game itself, but it certainly gives off the impression that the team wasn’t mucking around when it came to delivering an earnest mature experience. Similarly the investigative aspects of the game have had a significant overhaul, which while not quite reaching the heights (the overrated) LA Noire did a few years later, did go some way to lending a degree of actual investigative work to the process. Upon coming across a dead body you’ll be required to assess the crime scene and either ask or answer a few questions that may lead to Police HQ having some idea of what led to the death. It’s not overly complex or technical, and there are only a few scripted instances throughout the course of the game, but it was a nice touch that broke up the combat and exploration sequences.
Condemned 2 isn’t the kind of game you come across very often. Its innovations were great but arguably ignored by the industry at large and its tone was unashamedly dark and mature. The developers weren’t afraid to go against what the market had proven it wanted, instead sticking to their vision for the game. Sadly it didn’t pay off and Condemned 2 didn’t sell enough to warrant a sequel. The reality is, though, it is the sort of game you expect to see the world going crazy for on Steam these days. Unfortunate as it is, it was really just a case of wrong place, wrong time, wrong pitch. As an indie darling it could’ve blown the world away, but unfortunately against the big boys of boxed retail, particularly in the first person category, Condemned 2 couldn’t compete.
Have a favourite game from 2008? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to come back soon for the next game in our countdown. Miss a year? Catch up below.