8.5

A pretty solid sequel. Fans of the first one will be more or less pleased, and definitely anxious for the third one.

I played Condemned: Criminal Origins when it first came out, and I was instantly a fan of the series. I was pretty excited to sink my teeth into the sequel, and here's what I found:

Graphics: It's basically just as pretty as the first one, but with one major improvement - people's faces. In the first one they all had squat, rubbery looking faces and everyone was fugly. Thankfully, in the sequel they decided to make everyone look human for a change. The lighting effects are very haunting and realistic, but I've gotta say that the shadow you cast is pretty ridiculous at times.

Sound: Sufficiently creepy, with different things scattering about and doors creaking open, not to mention times when your footsteps are the only sound in the room.

Voice Acting: Yay! They replaced the voice for Ethan with someone less annoying! All around, the actors do a pretty good job with a pretty good script, save for a couple of weak points. It's not revolutionary, but it didn't cause me pain either, and considering the track record of voice acting in video games, that makes me happy.

Gameplay: In this regard, Condemned has improved on all fronts (forensics, melee, and gun play). Battles are still as intense and brutal as ever. Guns are a little more present, but the emphasis is definitely still on fists and anything you can get your hands on. Hopefully in the next game they'll expand the interactivity of the world so you can use a bigger variety of objects.

Characters: Ethan was pretty unmemorable in the first one (until the very end) but thankfully they've made him a very compelling leading man now. He's darker, more pissed off, and is generally just more interesting to watch. Everyone else is good enough, the only supporting cast member that's really interesting is SKX...for obvious reasons.

Story: It succeeds in connecting the first one to the (inevitable) third one and doesn't really have a slow spot. It's a well paced story mixed with crime scenes, mystery, and psychos. While the ending doesn't really answer very many questions, that's to be expected with a third one in the future and all.

Scare Factor: While it maintains a dark, gritty, intense feel, there was only one moment that really scared my pants off.

General Complaints: I didn't mind certain objects eventually breaking in the first one, but it's become way too common in this installment. A board breaking after a couple of hits I can understand, but a PIPE? Far too many weapons break way too quickly, often leaving you with only your fists to defend yourself.

What the Series Needs to Do Next Time: I'd really like to see Condemned break out of its mold a bit, or at least get more creative with their level design. Also, they need to quit with piles of trash, there are other ways to make an area look broken down and crappy then to throw random piles of debris everywhere.

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