Condemned 2 continues Ethan's story and takes it to another level.

User Rating: 8.5 | Condemned 2 X360
Last Fall I played the original Condemned and it was one of the most memorable videogaming experiences I've had. Putting an action-heavy survival-horror game into a first person perspective turned out to be a great success, not only because of the gameplay but the intriguing story as well. I knew that Condemned 2 had made some changes and was really looking forward to seeing how this would affect things.

Gameplay (9) - As much fun as the gameplay was in the first game, it is improved for the second. You now can attack with both the LT and RT and press them simultaneously to block, as opposed to only having the RT to attack and LT to block. This makes combat much deeper, giving the opportunity for various combos. Another great addition is that Ethan can use his fists this time if he is temporarily w/o a weapon, and his fists are quite effective as well. There is also the ability to use "environmental" kills if your enemy is low on health. You'll get a few seconds in which to drag your enemy to a particular place in a room and perform a gruesome finishing move, such as placing their head in a vise or impaling them on a spike:P There is a much greater variety of melee weapons available, ranging from broadswords to toilet seats! Guns are much more prominent this time, and there are several levels where you will have to use rifles in order to survive. Some may not like this and want to stay with only melee attacks, but I thought it was done well and made for a nice change of pace, though admittedly the melee attacks are still much more entertaining. The forensics are also improved, being much deeper and requiring a lot more thought. The nice thing about this is that the better you are at the forensics, along with finding other side items, the better your bonus will be when you finish a level. For instance if you just rush through a level to the end your reward may just be a single shot taser. If you do a bit better it will be a 3 shot taser and if you cover all your bases you'll get a 5 shot taser. It works out nice in that it's not required to find every item or do perfect investigations but if you do you'll get some nice rewards.

Graphics (9) - Just like the first game, Condemned 2 does a fantastic job bringing some of the filthiest and scariest environments you could imagine with photo-realistic quality. Lighting is naturally top notch as you'll be using your flashlight almost constantly (fortunately it doesn't need to be charged). Highly detailed characters look great as well, and there seemed to be a greater variety of enemies this time as well.

Sound (9) - The sound is another area that has been great for both games. Sound effects from fights sound as realistic as if they were happening in your house, with each of the many different weapons having their own unique sound. Great voice work from all of the main characters, each was very believable and never sounded like the over acting you hear from so many other games.

Value (7) - A mixed bag here. On the one hand Condemned 2 does offer much more than the original. For the first time multi-player is available. I haven't played it and though I've heard it's not the greatest I'll give them credit for trying. Another addition is the Bloodshot Fight Club. These are minigames (five in total I believe) that you can jump into and then compare how you did on leaderboards. It involves such games as seeing how many kills you can score withing a time limit, seeing how lonmg you can protect someone, etc. Again, these games in themselves aren't too addictive but it was a nice effort to give some extra playing time or a little diversion. The problem is with the length of the main story. There was no timer but all I can say is that it certainly did not take very long to complete the game, as it had to be well under 10 hours. If it wasn't for the MP and Fight Club I would have given this category a 6.

Overall (8.5) - Basically it comes down to if you enjoyed the original you'll certainly want to play this. If you think this is the type of game you'd be interested in I'd recommend playing the original first. It's not necessary but will certainly make the story easier to follow as it picks up after the first game. Needless to say this game is not for children as it had some of the most excessive and realistic looking violence you'll see in a videogame. Due to the short length you might want to wait until the price comes down a bit but the game was put together very well and I'd definitely recommend it to fans of this genre.