Gaming Pastime reviews Condemned: Criminal Origins for the PC. A horror themed first-person brawler with occasional shooting.
Condemned: Criminal Origins was developed by Monolith Productions, published by Sega, and released for PC in April, 2006 (NA). You play as FBI agent Ethan Thomas who is part of the Serial Crimes Unit (SCU). Ethan is framed for murder and must track down the true murderer to clear his name. Condemned has a big focus on melee combat, making it somewhat unique for the genre. You can pickup almost any weapons found throughout the environments to beat lunatics over the head with including pipes, wood planks, conduits, signs, rebar, and more.
Check out our written review
I don't know why I play horror games I usually never like them nor do I ever get the urge to reply any of course there are exceptions but for the most part I just stay away from the horror genre in general they're dark dreary depressing and they're just not for me however I'm not blind to good gameplay and I think the only reason I ever get interested in specific horror games is for the gameplay that's exactly why I played condemned criminal origins I was intrigued by its focus on melee combat and thought to myself what the hell I'll give it a shot I want to be clear that just because it's a horror game doesn't mean I automatically hate it the game may not be for me but if the gameplay is up to par I would still recommend it to others condemned criminal origins was developed by monolith productions the same developer that brought us blood and even fear it was published by Sega and released for the Xbox 360 in November 2005 and the PC in April 2006 for this review I played the PC version so let's take a look Thomas I don't got all day here that's gonna move on the game takes place in the fictional metro city at least that's what I think it's called you play as FBI agent Ethan Thomas who is part of the serial crimes unit abbreviated SCU the story opens with Ethan arriving at a crime scene in some run-down building where a woman has been murdered Ethan believes the murderer to be a serial killer known as the matchmaker equipped with a flashlight Taser and handgun Ethan and the two police officers accompanying him start chasing down a suspect only for Ethan to accidentally drop his gun while trying to restore power to get the lights back on the suspect uses Ethan's gun to kill the two officers framing Ethan for murder so the rest of the story is about Ethan hunting down the real murderer and clearing his name I guess you could say the story is kind of in the mystery horror genre or maybe even psychological horror without spoiling anything the ending is really just not good it's a shame because the story kept me intrigued all the way to the end only to be let down by some real nonsense the voice acting of the main characters and during cutscenes is kind of hit or miss I mean it's not horrible by any means but it's not phenomenal either the game has a focus on this crime scene investigation stuff where you can use forensic tools to gather evidence find fingerprints shit like that apparently Ethan has some form of special ability where he'll occasionally see flashes of what transpired at a crime scene which I believe is just a storytelling device to make finding evidence easier whenever Ethan is near evidence like blood or prints or whatever the game will let you know and that's usually when these flashes occur the forensic tool stuff is a neat mechanic the first time you do it but it does get hold after a while you'll have to whip out your forensic tools frequently and it's all a matter of pressing one or two buttons to do everything so it's not like it's complex or even requires a ton of brainpower if you think you're gonna feel like Columbo or a law-and-order detective think again the game just guides you through every step of the crime scene investigation stuff after gathering the evidence it's immediately sent over to the crime lab where a woman named Rosa analyzes it and we'll call Ethan on his cell phone to inform him of the findings among other things the whole crime scene thing is a cool idea but I don't think it's implemented all that well it just feels like a gimmick more than anything so after being framed and thrown out of a window Ethan is saved by a friend of his father's who brings Ethan back to his own apartment and after waking up Ethan immediately goes on the run not only is Ethan after a dangerous serial killer but apparently he lives in the shittiest part of town some kind of crazy shit is going on so all of the homeless people junkies low-lives and scumbags have become extremely violent due to some supernatural forces apparently nobody is saying any more in this city and everywhere Ethan goes are lunatics that are ready to kill him and each other you'll traverse through all sorts of mostly urban environments like the subway back alleys and a department store and the one thing condemned does well is nail the creepy atmosphere every location looks rundown and nasty making it feel believable that homeless lunatics would live in these types of places you'll always be seeing shit that may catch you off guard like people running around something moving in the corner people just vanishing and if you've played the original fear this won't be anything new the sound effects are also really well done the sounds of shit moving around screams groans coughs people yelling and even basic shit like footsteps are exceptional and I would say the sound effects really carry the game all the way through now I don't know if I would call condemned a first-person shooter there are several guns to use but melee weapons are the real focus of the combat in this game and the melee is also the reason I wanted to play this in the first place you'll be bashing lunatics in the head with almost anything you can find in the environment like pipes wood planks conduit signs rebar and all kinds of other shit weapons will break after a while so don't expect to get attached to any one weapon melee weapons are never hard to come by and they each have different stats that include damage speed block and reach blocking is all about timing and you need to get good at it to survive in this game just holding the block button won't help you and if you're up against numerous enemies at once knowing when to block can be the difference between life and death now the reach of some of these weapons is questionable I mean I could be standing in a spot that's clearly far enough away but somehow enemies managed to land a hit and that's the only part of the combat that really gets annoying overall the melee combat can be quite fun especially when you master the blocking smacking enemies and watching them spin around from the impact is pretty cool they can block your swings as well as lean back to dodge and they'll even run away or hide behind walls waiting for you to approach enemies will sometimes drop their current weapon and grab another from somewhere nearby if there's multiple enemies you can sometimes just hang back and wait for them to kill each other off they will attack each other and I always found it in my best interest to just wait it out and then kill off the remaining enemies now the enemies will vary in appearance but they don't seem to be that much different in combat the bigger and tougher enemies will take more hits to bring down but that's about it if they manage to grab you you'll need to slide the mouse left and right so they let go but once you've fought one enemy you've pretty much fought them all there are some cool execution moves you can perform if you manage to get an enemy to drop to their knees you can Ram punch slam or even snap their neck there are several guns in this game but the gunplay is really not that exciting in fact it just feels generic there's never a mole lying around so you're limited to whatever ammo is in the gun when you pick it up guns will kill enemies quicker but I never felt like I was in any situation where I absolutely needed a gun it's obvious the developers didn't want you running around guns blazing because that would definitely make the game too easy with that said there are several sections where you can use guns but it always felt more fun to use the melee weapons and because the gunplay is so generic condemn'd would make a terrible shooter anyway Ethan is equipped with a Taser and that's probably the most useful weapon in his arsenal after using the Taser on an enemy you can grab the weapon from their hand while they're incapacitated and use it against them it's a really helpful mechanic went up against enemies with guns now each chapter normally requires you to get from point A to B certain weapons are required to open specific doors like fire axes and shovels for example so this can add some minor backtracking when you need to find those specific weapons it's nothing compared to the Metroid games but every now and then I would get lost and considering Ethan moves like a fucking snail navigation can become tedious and I think that's my biggest problem with this game Ethan moves a slow as shit movement is very limited you can walk in sprint but you can only crouch and jump when you approach areas that require you to do so sprinting drains your stamina so you'll have to wait for the stamina meter to refill and he just walks so damn slow there's no actual stealth mechanics so if you see an enemy then they see you so I don't know why he has to move so slow maybe it's to add a sense of tension but quite frankly I just think Ethan needs to move his ass in fact being able to move a little quicker during combat could be beneficial especially if you need to get away quickly look feral condemn'd is a linear game no doubt but there are some secrets to find it came out in 2006 for PC and that's also around the time achievement Horrors were born and the PC version does include in-game achievements there are birds and pieces of metal to find in each chapter as well as television sets other than finding health kits these are the only reasons to explore I believe the birds you collect are dead so why Ethan would even touch them is nasty but I think the dead birds have something to do with why everybody is going insane that's what I gathered from the internal reports you can read in between chapters anyway unlocking achievements enables you to view concept art and other behind-the-scenes stuff but if you're not interested in any of that then you may not even care now I'm happy to say I had no serious technical problems with condemned I ran it on Windows 10 without any crashes or any serious visual glitches this game came out back when game developers didn't know how to implement bloom lighting properly so some things are overly bright but I expected as much condemned also has this soft filter or something where everything looks like it kind of glows I'm not sure of the correct terminology but I think oblivion has this effect as well which also came out in 2006 so if you've played that you should know what I'm talking about I think some sound effects were either not playing or they're just not in the game there's one sequence where Ethan is riding on the back of a subway car and there's no sound effects for the car or the track or than anything really every now and then you'll see pipes blowing out steam and again no sound effects I don't know if this is normal but I'm guessing not coincidence I don't know what your game is here Vanhorn but I've got a job to do if you'll excuse me I went into this game with the hope that there would be excellent melee combat and for the most part there is dare I say it's even better than oblivion and Skyrim combat however the game really starts off slow and when things do get going it never feels like enough there's a lot of walking stopping to gather evidence and talking to Rosa the first time you play the tension may keep you on edge but that's the problem with a game like this once you've beaten it you'll know how things turn out so when you go back to replay it you'll know what to expect I could see this game being really boring the second or third time around there's just not enough melee combat at least for me and none of the fights were really memorable or anything now condemned is a genuinely creepy game that's all about atmosphere mystery and even story and I think it may appeal to horror fans so for those who can get into dark and creepy atmospheric games or even mystery games I would say give it a shot this is not a fast paced or even action-packed game I would say it's a story-driven first-person brawler with a forensic tool gimmick look I have no idea what any of it means something weird something unexplainable happened during my investigation but truthfully the questions you asked I just I can't answer I'm sorry Rosa I'm sorry too Thomas I really am take care of yourself you