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"Condemned: Criminal Origins"


SEGA doesn't make game systems any more, but it still makes great games; when "Condemned: Criminal Origins" came out last fall with the launch of Xbox 360, I knew that I would pick it up whenever I signed on the line to pick up a 360.

My mistake in all of this was not realizing that this game is one of those stealth horror games, which I can usually get into...but, as almost all of the combat is hand-to-hand combat, there are even more scares due to this format than I had expected.  That can make a game more fun, but sometimes, it takes a little self-pumping to get myself excited to fire it up again and again, because on each level, you have to get accustomed to walking from room to room on the map, waiting to get jumped by a guy with a pole, while you try and fight back with an axe or whatever else is lying on the floor.

As an FBI agent charged with tracking down a killer, you spend each level running around deserted alleys, sewer systems, shuttered office buildings and the like to catch the killer.  Unfortunately, this game has so little story (and what little there is really blows) that its initially-cool "investigation" system is nothing more than an area-specific chance for you to hit the investigation button and take a picture of some evidence, or highlight footprints or blood with your UV light.  And that's it, maybe once a level.  The ongoing story didn't have me hooked at all, and after a while, it gets tiring to wait for your character to get attacked, because all you have is the world's worst flashlight to light the hallways (and, it's nighttime, so 95% of the game is played in the dark) and a melee weapon.  Enemies have the strange ability to use a gun with a full clip, reload infinitely, and when they are killed, you pick up the weapon and it's got three bullets left in it.

Come on.

After six levels, I just didn't want to play it any more.  But, the experience is harrowing at times, just not interesting enough to play through to completion.

Rating:  eBay


Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09