Saturday, 26 April 2008

Condemned 2: Bloodshot: The Review

Okay, right off the bat, if you look on my gamespot profile you can see i gave the origional condemned a less than stellar review. citing it as one long rinse and repeat of reaching a door, then going to find something that opens said door. I also for lack of a more eloquent word springing to mind, bitched about the way it degenerates from intriguing CSI style hunting of a serial killer to magic and cults ala  Fahrenheit (or indigo prophecy if you prefer).
In short it took a good premise and then through it out the window in favor of something much less unique and therefore slightly less entertaining since it was nothing new.
so i didn't like it too much, great in practice but very flawed.

This view has changed however since i played its sequel "bloodshot". Right off the bat the reason for the homeless people going crazy is explained, now i loved the intrigue of the original, the fact that birds were drying for no reason, the blacked out xray and the like and it all gets explained in the first half. NOTHING is left to the imagination. in fact the only puzzle at the end is the introduction of an even badder bad guy which is obviously just  a plot device to stretch this already tired horse into a trilogy.
So remember ethan thomas?, that chubby, out of shape fbi crime lab investigator who was voiced by matt from heroes? 
Did you like him?
Too bad then as he's been replaced, or he's a time lord and undergone a regeneration, which given the plot wouldn't surprise me. 
Gone is the flawed hero on the run form the fbi. in his place is , for lack of a better term, an asshole who has undergone steroid treatment, vocal chord transplantation and had a nice emo haircut for when he goes to good charlotte concert. its not the same guy in anything but name, he's bizarro ethan thomas. a completely unlikeable and boring action hero type protagonist.
i've mentioned this before when explaining why fatal frame is scarier than resident evil 4. if you play a strong action hero type right off the bat your thinking "oh yeah, yeah he's definitely going to survive this. he's no longer a likable character, he's one of marcus fenix's drinking buddies.

The gameplay is, thankfully, a saving grace of this as the combat has been greatly refined. in the original it was basically strafe left and right hammering down the attack button till the enemy was  a fine paste or mist of "matter". 
In that terrible mechanics place is a new way to fight, left trigger is left fist and right trigger is right fist, both at once block.... and later on use magic powers- but thats for a bit later on.
you can use combos and ,ugh, slow motion real time button events to do real damage that looks painful rather than just the rag doll recoil of the original.

Its just a shame that a good half of the game abandons this for outright sup-bar fps gameplay instead. 
Case in  point Ethan now fights these inner demons using a machine gun.

i wish i was joking. the controls are better ill say that, but not for the right reasons.

The enemy a.i doesn't seem to have gotten smarter, in some respects its gotten worse. enemies will just make a beeline at you or, instead of just hiding round a corner like the original, will just stand in plain sight, practically kicking up dust and whistling a jaunty tune.
There are now boss fights a plenty but thee are easily the weakest point of the game, there just bigger versions of regular guys and just take longer to fight.... unless you use magic powers. 

the graphics range from bland early 360 graphics to superb in a bizarre mix. the opening is right out of silent hill, from red rust, to gooey crap (tm konami) covering the walls. and whilst the locations are varied many are just bland cut and pastes that make the original halo level design look ambitious. 

that said its not all bad, sure the story is asinine, its got tons of pot wholes (like a main character disappearing half way through and never appearing again), the tazer serves no purpose this time, and you beat the final boss by shouting at him.  but there is some great stuff in there too.
a fine example is running through an abandoned ski lodge whilst being chased by a rabid grizzly bear. or when you have to.... okay i honestly cant think of anything else but point is there's some good in there.
Its just a shame that its a pale shadow compared to the sheer amount of problems.

I finished it in one sitting, then got my money back. hands down the worst horror game ive played of 2008.