Condemned 2: Bloodshot
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|Condemned 2: Bloodshot|
|Developer(s)||Warner Bros. Games|
|Engine||Lithtech Jupiter EX|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
Condemned 2: Bloodshot (titled Condemned 2 in Australia, Europe and Asia) is a psychological survival horror video game, developed by Monolith Productions and published by Sega for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 video game consoles. It is the sequel to the 2005 game Condemned: Criminal Origins. Due to its violent content, the game was indexed in Germany by the BPjM in April 2008 and subsequently banned in October 2008.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot is a psychological horror video game from a first-person perspective focused on melee-oriented combat. The game features bare-fisted hand-to-hand combat, combat with melee weapons, and first person shooting. The game also has adventure game elements in the forensic investigation of crime scenes.
Unlike the first game, Condemned 2 allows for hand-to-hand combat with the player's bare fists, with the left and right triggers controlling the player character's left and right fist respectively. Additionally, the player is now able to chain together attack combos, as well as perform various finishing moves executed via quick time events. The game also features context-sensitive "environmental kills" (such as shoving an enemy's head into a TV or a spiked wall).
Like the original game, the sequel also features melee weapons and firearms. However, melee weapons now break after several strikes or blocks, forcing the player to be adept at resorting to the new hand-to-hand combat system. As in the original game, firearms are limited to the bullets in the current magazine, as the player is unable to carry additional ammo (although they can reload their current magazine by picking up spare ammo lying on the ground). An additional twist to the firearms combat is Ethan's alcoholism, which causes his aim to become blurry and unsteady unless he regularly drinks alcohol. Firearms combat is more prevalent in Condemned 2 than in the original game, with a few levels focused on firefights with assault rifle-wielding enemies.
The game also features more in-depth forensic investigation gameplay. Players are able to investigate and catalog different elements of a crime scene, and make statements about the nature of the crime. Correctly guessing the nature of the crime earns the player a better ranking, which can lead to upgrades such as brass knuckles or body armor. Also featured are several "Bloodshot Fight Club" maps, which are action-based levels independent of the game's plot.
Condemned 2 contains new powers for Ethan to use. His "instinct" powers are all but completely scrapped in this episode, however some useful combat abilities come into play. By building up a combo meter, Ethan can perform powerful "Chain Combos" that begin a short sequence requiring well-timed or rapidly placed button presses in order to deal massive damage. Later in the game, Ethan gains the power of the "Voice". This power allows him to produce a powerful shockwave from his mouth that can blast open doors, explode enemy heads, and destroy Oro "headpieces".
Condemned 2 features multiplayer gameplay. There are nine maps in total depending on the game mode being played. The game supports 8 players online and features four multiplayer modes:
- Deathmatch – the player to reach the kill limit or the player with the most kills at the end of the time limit wins.
- Team Deathmatch – two teams of multiple players compete for the most kills.
- Bum Rush – a time-based game of SCU Agents versus Influenced bums. The SCU cannot respawn but get to use guns, have a lot more health and kill with one shot or melee, and must last as long as possible against the bums.
- Crime Scenes – another game type putting the SCU agents against the Influenced. The Influenced must hide two cases of evidence, while the SCU agents must use their equipment to find and scan the evidence before time runs out.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot takes place 11 months after the events of the first Condemned. The mysterious phenomenon causing insane violence and mass psychosis amongst Metro City's homeless population has only gotten worse, with massive riots breaking out across the city. Protagonist Ethan Thomas, having resigned from the FBI's Serial Crime Unit after the events of the Serial Killer X investigation, has been caught in a downward spiral and now finds himself homeless, violent, and an alcoholic. He still suffers from paranormal visions, and his alcoholism even manifests as an antagonistic alter-ego that taunts him during his hallucinations.
Under the orders of Director Farrell, Ethan is recruited back into the SCU to investigate the murder of his one-time mentor Malcolm Vanhorn. He is aided by his old partner Rosa and commanded by the hostile and antagonistic Agent Dorland, SCU's tactical commander. Over the course of Ethan's investigation, he discovers that his nemesis Serial Killer X is still alive, having been nursed back to health by his uncle Malcolm Vanhorn after being shot in the head at the end of the original Condemned. Serial Killer X killed Malcolm Vanhorn, as well as Metro City's Mayor Rachel Mars, and eventually kidnaps Director Farrell.
Ethan and Rosa also discover the source of all the city's troubles is a secret organization known as "the Oro", the cult hinted at in the first Condemned, whose members use painful metal implants to develop sonic powers that allow them to influence and control the rest of humanity. Rosa theorizes that they are the source of all humanity's crimes, wars, and hatred.
Serial Killer X, having learned about the Oro, now wants to harness their sonic ability, and is currently killing and dissecting Oro members to obtain this ability. The Oro are much more powerful than previously thought; their members include many high-ranking members of society, including Mayor Mars, Director Farrell, and Agent Dorland. The Oro also control the SCU, and Dorland and his tactical teams attempt to kill Ethan when he discovers their secret. Ethan fights back with the help of Rosa and SCU Agent Pierce LeRue, and even Serial Killer X, who saves Ethan from the SCU, calling it "a future investment".
Malcolm Vanhorn, who has spent his life battling the Oro, leaves Ethan a videotaped message revealing the final truth; Ethan's parents were Oro members who defected from the organization and were killed for it. Ethan himself is "the Remedy", a long-prophesied being possessing "perfectly evolved" vocal cords capable of generating the Oro's sonic power without the metal implants the Oro use. Ethan's ability is more powerful than the Oros, capable of destroying flesh and bone. The Remedy is destined to be "the voice opposing that of the Oro". As a result, Agent Dorland and the Oro want Ethan dead. Director Farrell, part of a splinter faction of Oro that wants to recruit rather than destroy Ethan, sacrifices his life to unlock Ethan's sonic powers after the two of them are cornered by Agent Dorland.
Ethan proceeds to the Peninsula, an artificial landmass where the Oro have a secret base from where they monitor and control the entire city. Using his newfound sonic powers, Ethan defeats the Oro members, destroys the Oro machinery allowing them to control the city, then battles Dorland in a sonic duel within the collapsing Peninsula. Defeated, Dorland informs Ethan that the Oro's motives are "To create hostility, the unwavering desire to fight. To unknowingly become... our protectors." Ethan asks what they are protecting against, receiving no reply. Ethan then concludes that Dorland doesn't know it himself, that he is nothing more than a puppet, and the former commander is flung to his death. Ethan escapes in a helicopter along with Rosa and LeRue, declining LeRue's offer of a drink and falling asleep. Meanwhile, the President of the United States suffers an apparent heart attack after receiving the message "The Remedy is among us!", suggesting that the President was a member of the Oro. Finally, Serial Killer X is shown receiving Oro metal implants in his mouth, similar in appearance to the Oro Dark Primary, the "final boss" Oro member Ethan fought and killed at the end of the first Condemned.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot received "favorable" reviews on both platforms according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. Official Xbox Magazine praised the areas of atmosphere, graphics and sound for the game, and found it to be improved in almost all aspects over the original. The review did, however, find the ending to be weak and one of its major downsides. The three reviewers in Electronic Gaming Monthly praised the Xbox 360 version's atmosphere and improved combat system, but were not satisfied with the "laggy, unnecessary feel" of the game's multiplayer component. Edge said that the same console version had lost the first game's tight storyline in favor of a deranged psychotic bloodbath, in which guns and gore "occur anywhere and everywhere to ever-decreasing effect" and had taken precedence over the tension and fear factors which the magazine had enjoyed in the previous title. In a caption the review expressed surprise that "you can [...] make enemy heads explode by shouting at them" and noted that they did not expect that "the ABC Warriors would appear in the game's final act, and that you'd take them down with a sonic crossbow and giant magnet."
411Mania gave the Xbox 360 version an 8.7 out of 10 and said it was "a game that encourages you to think outside the box and use some strategy and smarts while challenging you to stay alive in hopes of bringing your city back to sanity." Wired gave the game a score of eight stars out of ten and said that it "has plenty of creepy moments, but it favors action over atmosphere. To that end it performs very well, and even throws in some juicy plot twists and a cliffhanger ending. But I miss the tension of the original, just the same." The A.V. Club gave the Xbox 360 version a B− and called it "A series of amazing shocks that are never quite worthy of suspension of disbelief."
Rumors about a sequel have circulated since Condemned 2's release; however, it had been doubtful that a Condemned 3 would ever occur. One of the Condemned series' previous developers stated in an interview with video game website NeoGAF, "Sadly it will never happen. Condemned 2 just didn't sell enough copies. It is sad that Condemned 2 got caught up in the 'everything needs multiplayer'. We could have really used the staff on multiplayer to make the single player campaign amazing. There was some good ideas of where to take the game. I've always wanted to do a reboot and just play Condemned 2 off as a bad hangover and have Thomas closer to what he was in [Condemned: Criminal Origins]."
Monolith co-founder and former CEO Jace Hall currently holds the rights to the Condemned series and on January 31, 2015, he expressed his interest on Facebook to find the right independent development team to "take over the franchise and move it forward."
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