Condemned 2: Bloodshot E3 2007 Preshow Impressions
The sequel to the brutal first-person action game looks to raise the level of violence, as well as the story.
Games don't get much more brutal than 2005's Condemned: Criminal Origins, a first-person action game built around the idea that you pretty much have to pummel your opponents to death using your bare hands, blunt objects, sledgehammers, and whatever else is convenient for you at the time. It made for an incredibly violent, yet also creepy, and stunning game. Well, the brutality is going to get ratcheted up even higher in Condemned 2: Bloodshot. This sequel promises to combine the shocking violence with a creepy atmosphere, and the result is a game that feels like it's a combination of the paranormal horror game F.E.A.R. with the movie Saw, as well as a good bit of C.S.I.-style forensic work on the side.
Condemned 2 will pick up a year after the events of the first game. Once again, you'll play as Ethan Thomas, a disgraced FBI agent who has fallen into a drunken depression after his life falls apart because of his uncontrollable rage that causes him to beat the heck out of anyone who offends him. To say that the subject matter is bleak would be understating it, but things get even stranger after Thomas meets a mysterious figure at a playground who bashes his head in with a brick. At this point, you'll begin a descent into a creepy, paranormal world...or will you? That's because the story in Condemned 2 looks to be anything but conventional.
The emphasis in Condemned 2 is to really open up the combat system, which Sega admits was a bit too repetitive in the original game. Now there are four layers to combat, starting with hand-to-hand. You can punch, kick, and grab opponents, twisting their heads around to snap their necks or pummel them to death. Or you can get creative and use the environmental finishing moves, which is another layer to combat. If you grab a guy from behind and slam his head into a television set or against a wall, then you can stomp on his neck to break his back. Then there are weapons, which are yet another layer. These can range from firearms to anything you can pick up and use as a club, such as pipes, sledgehammers, or bricks. A new twist is you can now throw your weapon at enemies. You can even try to throw it at their legs to trip them up, which makes it easy for you to finish them. And then there's the final layer, which consists of chain attacks, offensive and defensive. There are now medium and heavy attacks; you can learn how to string them together to enhance the damage done. This all seems fairly clinical in description, but trust us when we say that we flinched a lot watching what can happen onscreen.
This violence does have a purpose, though, as you will be plunged into a story that seems very similar to the one found in the creepy and atmospheric shooter F.E.A.R., which was also developed by Condemned creator Monolith. After being beaten up by the mysterious stranger at the beginning of the game, you'll awaken to a city where something is definitely not right. Army helicopters buzz overhead while the city seems deserted, save for the crazed enemies that will attack you on sight. A minigame will involve finding television sets and adjusting the rabbit-ear antenna to get a signal, which will get you strange news reports or, even weirder, a mysterious figure talking to you directly. You'll also start to encounter paranormal phenomenon, such as a strange tar coating on everything, as well as tar creatures that emerge out of the muck to attack.
What's going on? It's hard to say because Sega only showed us the opening level to the game, but there are certainly plot twists going on even that early. Sega also showed us another aspect of the game, which involves forensic analysis of crime scenes. This was a feature of the original Condemned, but it has been overhauled entirely in the sequel. This new system is based on logical analysis, though it'll seem natural if you like to watch episodes of the hit criminal procedural on television C.S.I.. For instance, you'll find the body of a dead man in a deserted hotel. First, you need to establish his identity, which is done by looking for obvious clues, such as his general age and sex, as well as the police badge in his hands. When you examine each item, you'll be given a list of options to choose. So if you focus on the body, you'll be asked if it's an adult male, an adult female, an elderly male, and so on. Or if you focus on the badge, you'll have to identify its type and the number on it: Is it police badge 46, security badge 46? As soon as you have enough evidence, you'll send it to analysis to get your answers.
Finally, Sega showed off a separate gameplay mode, one designed for instant action, as well as friendly competition over online leaderboards. Welcome to hobo fight club, which can pit you in a fighting pit in one-on-one, one-on-two, or one-on-three battles to the death. The goal in hobo fight club is to keep fighting until you're dead, with the idea that those who survive the longest and rack up the most kills will show up on top of the leaderboards. As you finish a level in the game, all the enemies and weapons from that level are unlocked for use in hobo fight club.
There's a lot more to Condemned 2 that Sega isn't showing yet, though what was on display certainly helps elevate the violence in video games to new levels. Sega was careful to note that this is going to be a Mature-rated game, which means it's not designed for anyone under 17. There's still plenty of work to do on the game as well because it's not due until Spring 2008. Keep an eye on GameSpot for future updates.
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