Ben plays games

Criminally Underrated

Condemned Criminal Origins

I recently replayed Condemned: Criminal Origins and put a short review together for Steam. Here it is!

Condemned is a classic horror game that is well worth your time, and an easy recommend whether you're revisiting it or trying it for the first time.

It's worth acknowledging that there are some serious horror chops behind this game. Monolith is the studio behind the excellent F.E.A.R series. While Condemned is a slower game with a greater focus on crime scene investigation and exploring oppressive industrial and urban environments, it is by no means the lesser title. It's also still packed with action, in this case brutal melee combat where you and your enemies must scavenge what deadly implements you can from the environment -- by pulling pipes off walls, tearing drawers out of desks, or yanking planks of wood from the debris that covers this filthy, decaying city. It's not all melee - there is some gun combat, but ammo is scarce, and you're usually limited to a few shots before you're empty and scrambling for the nearest blunt object to hand.

The melee stuff holds up really well, so don't be put off by it -- it was excellent at the time, and even now seldom few games have done a better job than Condemned at nailing the weighty feeling of going toe-to-toe with enemies. Enemies also have good AI, which keeps things interesting. They'll run away and hide from you, picking the perfect moment to ambush you. They'll block your attacks. They'll hurl furniture at you. And they'll swap whatever weapon they're holding for a better one, should they find it - so make sure that pistol is empty before you leave it out in the open...

There's a great detective yarn spun here, which does a good job of keeping you intrigued throughout, even if it does veer off the deep end a little by the time the credits roll. From a story perspective, this is a "journey, not the destination" sort of game. It's really the environments that are the most compelling part, and these remain brilliantly atmospheric even now, 16 years after Condemned's original release.

It's not a particularly long game - you can get it done in 5-6 hours, so it's a perfect weekend experience. But be sure to wait until it's dark, and play with headphones for the full effect.

If you're a fan of horror, this is a must-play. It's just a shame Condemned 2: Bloodshot isn't available on PC!

PS - you can get the game running in 60+ FPS at 4k if you check out PCGamingWiki.

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