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Condemned Criminals Origins XBox 360 Review - -

Gameplay 10.0
Graphics 10.0
Sound 10.0
Value 10.0
Distributor: THQ
Review Date:
May 2006
Edwin Milheim


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Condemned Criminals Origins

There are far and few games that manage to give me the creep out factor or actually engage me enough in the game to actually both look forth and to dread what may lie around the next corner. Condemned Criminal Origins is one of those games. A game that has the esteemed and at the same time, hard reputation to live up to, of being one the first waves of games for what has been deemed the next generation of gaming. The high definition world has shorn off its infancy and games like this one are the results.

Even without the supernatural undertones this game would have been spectacular in its story of an FBI agent's search for a serial killer. While I did enjoy the supernatural side of things, I could not help but feel a little cheated in some respect. I was enjoying the game far more when it was just a bunch of crazies running violently loose due to some kind of virus or something. The odd supernatural twist, if you can call it that just makes me feel a little cheated in the story department. Next generation gaming using some cliché' story playing the supernatural card. Don't get me wrong, the game is really good. The story line brings you in all the way and you wonder what the hell is going on, it pushes you along and makes you want to play more. Involving you in something more than your run of mill adventure to be sure. I just felt it could have done just as well with out the supernatural explanations. The horrors of the human monster, to me, are more terrifying than any psychological bogyman buried deep within our psyche. On the other hand getting to the part of the game when the weird characters that crawl along the floor after you, just about caused me to fall out of my chair when they first appeared. All the scares are there and they are done right.

Players take on the roll of Ethan Thomas an FBI agent assigned to the serial crimes unit. During investigations it becomes all too clear that something is causing people to change in an evilly twisted way. People are committing acts of violence that just seem to be for the sake of violence alone. Some sort of connection is there between the increase in violent crimes and the latest serial killings. To get things going, the players are introduced to the adventure in true Hollywood style as the player controlled character Ethan Thomas arrives at the latest murder scene. During the onsite investigation things go horribly wrong and a life and death struggles with the killer ensues. Thomas gets the worst of it as his weapon is taken from him and is used to kill two other officers at the scene. It's not long before Ethan Thomas is accused of the murders of these officers. Now hunted by law enforcement, Ethan Thomas must unravel the mystery of the odd happenings in the city, a plague of bird deaths and the serial is it all involved? Well you are going to have to play the game to find out. First I have to say regardless of the game supporting family settings, it is not a game for children. It's a game that ventures very realistically with the murder scenes and the violence.well that's what makes it one heck of a ripping good game.

Most of the interface does not take long at all to learn. Like most first person action shooter games it's pretty much the standard fare for the controls. Taking a fast breather or break a player bringing up the pause screen also has access to menu options. This shows the Mission objectives, Restart other words start just at the beginning of the current level of the game. Restore Checkpoint is another option that comes in handy. Loading the game at the very last check point when it's not going well for you may be just what the player needs. Health, and weapons and most of the things like health weapons will be as they where just before the check point. Save checkpoint, as the title implies is pretty much self explanatory, load game, quit game, and the options menu are all here.

While most first person games are for the most part first person shooters.this game is more along the lines of first person melee fighting. While there are guns in the game, the player will more often than not have to rely on weapons they pick up from the environment. Such as pipes, locker doors and bits of rebar piping. Even a gun can be switched from melee mode.where the character can bash someone with it, and back to firing mode. As pointed out there are guns in the game, but ammunition for the weapons is so scarce, the player will be slugging it out with what ever they can pick up. Oh and there is a stun gun to give the player a slight edge in situations. Used smartly, the stun gun will get a player through some of the most difficult situations of the game when the odds are stacked very much against them.

As an FBI agent, there are forensic tools to use, but these situations are dummied down enough that it won't frustrate anyone to tears trying to figure out when and where to use them. The designers smartly worked in prompts, so that just by pressing a control when prompted, the right tool is automatically chosen for you. In the end these don't do much for the game other than a bit of distraction but, not bad and still very much enjoyable.

Graphics are all incredibly done for this Xbox 360 game. Making your way through very seedy abandoned buildings and dark alley ways and even some knurly abandoned farm the game does not shrink away in the graphics department. Everything in this awe inspiring high definition adventure lends itself very well to the game. Lighting effects from slivers of light cutting the darkness, to the deep inky blackness of a basement are done in an extraordinary feast for the eyes. The 5.1 surround sound is also done with such impeccable care. From the soft crunch of bits of glass and debris under the characters feet to the head pounding thump of impact as an attacker scores a hit against the player. The ambient sounds are creepy and enhance things rather well. Voice acting is for the most part passable, but won't win any awards.

The designers put some major time in on this gem of a game. It's difficult to find any faults to the game at all. I will say the ending (And no I wont spoil it for you) kind of was a disappointment, but not for the story. The story is great. But the game seems to hint at the player making a choice at a certain point near the end. I tried both ways and other than getting extra points, depending on what path you choose to take. the ending came out the same.I tried them both. Don't let that detour you from such an impressive game.

Condemned: Criminal Origins intense game play and heart stopping horror are a good mix. Your not just watching a really cool FBI agent searching for a serial killer are in the movie, and around every turn, danger lurks edging you on in a unblinking look at a darker world. Here in the U.S the game gets an M for mature 17 years old or older rating.

Hooking up to Xbox live with your Xbox 360 you can download the demo of this game and get a little taste of the unflinching adventure.

Have fun, play games.
Edwin Millheim


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