Condemned Review for PC

On: PCXbox 360

Sega and Monolith team up to make this next generation FPS psychological thriller.

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8Out of 10
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This isn't a game for kids
This isn't a game for kids

This isn't a game for kids

Videogames definitely aren't just for kids any more. If that wasn't obvious after the barrage of 18-rated releases over the last few years, Condemned takes a gas pipe and beats you around the head until it's all too painfully obvious. Imagine the crazed villagers from Resident Evil 4 but more demented, visceral melee combat with the most brutal weapons ever seen in a videogame, dark and gloomy environments that could have been ripped from the most grim of horror movies, a heavy dose of the surreal, and then experience it all from an immersive first-person perspective. Condemned has already freaked out Xbox 360 owners, but PC gamers aren't safe any longer.

As agent Ethan Thomas you're called to investigate a strange murder scene where the victim has been set up with a mannequin to create a dinner scene. After collecting evidence, noises are heard in the apartment above you, and a short fight later two cops have been shot dead with your gun, the killer has escaped and you're the prime suspect. Back at your apartment you start to see things and a mysterious man appears with stories about your special powers. With the cops on your back and the mysterious Vanhorn advising you to flee through your window, you set out to find the killer and clear your name.

The game then uses the premise of brutally beating up violent mind-altered tramps, drug addicts and other members of society that the world has left behind, and sticks with it for its duration. You don't get much explanation for this, other than information on a disease that's killing birds and seems to be infecting humans too (albeit only those living on the streets). The actual core storyline revolving around the murders moves along nicely as you fight enraged tramps through a tube station, a shop, a school and more. It's all pretty grim stuff and over the ten or so hours it'll take you to get through it, you'll predominantly be smashing enemies in the face with blunt weapons and occasionally getting hold of a gun of some sort.

'... psychotic enemies all look a little worse for wear and move with striking realism, blood and human remains litter the environment...'

It's certainly not going to win any awards for its depth of gameplay, but when this basic concept is so entertaining, it's easy to see why Monolith (the studio behind last year's F.E.A.R.) didn't try to add any more complexity. One button swings your weapon or fires your gun, another raises your weapon to block an enemy attack, and you have access to a taser (momentarily halting an enemy) that comes in very handy, particularly against enemies carrying guns. If you're brave enough you can kick enemies, knocking them to the ground and enabling you to brutally kill them with one of four finishing moves. These aren't essential to your progression, but they do add some variety to proceedings.

The only diversion from the relentless beating is the odd bit of crime scene investigation. This is handled very well, but it's more or less given to you on plate, with the game prompting you whenever you can whip out some high-tech gadgets. Responding to the on-screen cue will make Ethan take out the tool he needs and then it's simply a matter of looking for something that shows up under the light, following the smell of rotting flesh using your detector, taking a sample or something similar. Your findings will be instantly sent over to Rosa, your friend in forensics, and she'll give you her findings with calls to your cell phone, giving you little titbits of info on the killer you're tracking. Given that the focus of Condemned is clearly the frenzied combat, the simple nature of the actual detective work is understandable, but some more depth would have added an extra dimension to the gameplay.

There's not much light in Condemned, but the little there is, is used incredibly well. In trademark survival horror fashion every environment is dimly lit, with each object casting a menacing shadow. When you do see some brightness it's often blinding, offering little comfort over your previous adventuring in the dark. Fabulous lighting aside, Condemned does all it can to unsettle you: the psychotic enemies all look a little worse for wear and move with striking realism, blood and human remains litter the environment, everything looks trashed and a creepy black and white picture effect crops up from time to time, if only to mess with your head some more.

Guns are quite hard to come by in Condemned

Guns are quite hard to come by in Condemned

You could dissect the game's presentation and pick out some frame rate problems and the odd dodgy texture, but when you're playing you really don't care. When a tramp smashes through a wall and charges at you holding a nail ridden plank of wood, the last thing on your mind is how next-gen it all looks. It's all made more unnerving by some truly deranged sound effects and horrible, meaty sounding combat. Round this off with some impressive voice acting from the main characters, and you've got one impressive package.

As with Monolith's previous PC game F.E.A.R., you're going to need a high-end PC to play this as it was intended. A steady frame rate can be achieved by cutting back some of the more advanced features, but you end up losing some of the atmosphere that makes the game so great to begin with. Condemned moves at a slower pace than a traditional FPS, so you can get away with a less than spectacular frame rate. Be aware that the game forces you to play in widescreen, and unless you're using a widescreen display, the game will feature black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

Condemned delivers an experience that's worlds apart from what is usually on offer for PC gamers. At its core it's about as simple as a game could be, but it's presented in such a deranged and immersive way that it's hard not to get caught up in it all. Smacking someone around the face with a spade and watching blood spray from their mouth is a sight that will give many people the wrong view of videogames in general, but if you're old enough to play it and can stomach it, there's plenty of perverted pleasure to be had from Condemned.

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User Comments

Edwin's Avatar
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This game is becomes tedious and boring. It lacks the on going action (against enemies) and variety of surrounding. Not exciting.
Posted 01:34 on 05 September 2008
mike's Avatar
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yeah this game is really scary. Well, I'm one of those that scares out of anything, and (this may sound funny) I just play one level then exit the game and go play another game to let the fear go away. LOL pathetic but yeah, I'm 19y old and can't handle this game well. Haha. Anyway, you don't need a very high end machine, I have a P4 2.4ghz, 1gb ram, evga 7600gs 256mb AGP working at 4x speed and with all settings high except for soft shadows and texture size I think, but the game runs incredible smooth and scary as hell, since everything is really dark and creepy. It's fun to kill so many "zombies" (they look like zombies :P) but with the music, dark scenes and enemies yelling "Leave now" "Go away" you really need to be fearless or you will be playing like I do. One level a day. LOL :D
Posted 04:31 on 03 September 2007
Philippe's Avatar
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The scary ambience is not much there, you basically bash ennemies, find health kit and move on to the next bashing. The game doesn't know how to stuck a revolver in your belt so you must drop everything you have to carry another weapon. The game doesn't even remember what weapon you had when you go to a next chapter. Ennemies can jump over things but you can jump only over those that you are supposed to jump over. The game grab you by the nose and you need to follow. Why over 18y? well I wonder. I saw more gore in other games. Cherry on the cake, you have a nice scene with birds crashing though windows and when you go there all the windows are perfectly intact. You want a game with a scarry felling then better pass to another one. Very disappointing.
Posted 08:32 on 04 February 2007
vandy's Avatar


Yeah it does although I think most things would fly with that SLI setup.
Posted 22:47 on 19 April 2006
DonkyBoY's Avatar
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ok it does like to runon a fairly quick machine I got AMD Athlon64 3500+/ 1gb dual chan ram/ 2xPCIe FX6600GT in SLI and the game is cranking out the frames at over 120fps at some points all options set to maximum except for the texture size i only have 128mb on each vga card.
with this setup it is runnign silky smooth
I have also tried to run it on the old box that it AMD AthlonXP2800+/ 512mb pc3200 ram/ AGP FX5200 128mb it is running but not very well slows right down to 7fps and peaks at 57fps this is with all options set to low or off

On the Athlon64 the game is silky smooth and the atmosphere of the game really sucks you in i would say if you dont have a descent VGA card now would be the time to get one this game rocks.

I hope this info helps people out :)
Posted 22:19 on 19 April 2006

Game Stats

System Requirements
Out of 10
  • Nothing much like it on PC
  • Great atmosphere
  • Pretty short
  • Needs a high-end PC
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Release Date: 13/04/2006
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360
Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Survival Horror
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 2,394 744
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