Thrilling horror game with intense brutal combat

User Rating: 7.5 | Condemned: Criminal Origins X360
To me, this was a great game, but I just couldn't give it an eight out of ten, but I'll explain why later. I've never played an actual horror game until now, and that may be why this game felt so innovative and fun. I loved the creepy atmosphere, and every level takes place in a new environment to ensure there isn't too much repetition. Gameplay is simple yet exciting, and while the story may not be that great, it is certainly filled with mysteries to uncover.
The best part of this game is no doubt the gameplay. Wandering through dark hallways and rooms is definitely terrifying, as your imagination creates different scenarios of who might jump out where. When the player does encounter enemies, combat feels satisfyingly realistic. It is first person, but I wouldn't consider this game to be a shooter, as most of the time Ethan (the main character) will be using melee weapons. This game has the most melee weapons I know of. There are guns, but they have very little ammo, and this is the only game I've played so far that makes me uneasy when I miss an enemy with a shot. I had a lot of fun playing this game, despite its age.
Another thing that makes this game so terrifying is that the enemies are actually smart. They hide behind corners and wait for you to pass by as they jump out and sabotage, or work together with another enemy to flank you. When they take too much damage, they run away and try a different way to approach Ethan. You may not encounter that many enemies, but each one feels intimidating and realistically threatening. Realistic is a word I use a lot, and that is another reason the game is scary.
Besides fighting, Ethan will need to look for clues. I wouldn't consider these puzzles, but merely "egg" hunts as the player searches around for these clues. Some are more apparent than others, so have patience. It can be hard to tell when you will need to use your tool or your weapon, but for the most part, enemies won't come out of nowhere when using tools. Another non fighting aspect is using different weapons as tools; fire axes, sledge hammers, crowbars, and shovels all have a distinct use for opening certain doors or gates.
The story is the next compelling part of the game, but not as well put together as the gameplay. The game mostly draws you in with the different mysteries, such as new serial killers popping up, and cut scenes where strange things happen to Ethan. The main development of the story is Ethan finding new clues that lead to more clues. Even the ending doesn't reveal much, and the player will be left feeling confused. The ending is disappointing, not to the point of ruining the whole game, I just wish it explained more. Also, there is a choice the player needs to make at the end, but it doesn't even make a difference to the final cut scene. It's an ending that requires imagination, and if you have the right amount of it, the ending can be fixed mentally. If you over think like me, however, you will be left wondering over and over again.
Overall, I had a blast with this game. It could have been longer and have more development with the story, but it was still a solid game. The reason I gave it a 7.5 is because the only reason I had a lot of fun is it was my first horror game. I feel that if you are a hard core horror junkie, it wouldn't be so thrilling. Plus, as a whole, the game could use some polishing, it's just that horror factor that covered up the flaws for me. Definitely look into this game if you want to get into the horror genre of gaming, it's a good start, at least for me it was. It feels like bioshock, just without all the weapons and plasmid powers. Just remember, it is your imagination that creates the most scary moments.