Condemned: Criminal Origins

Originally posted on 12/01/2005 at

When I purchased my Xbox 360, there were only two games that I felt were must-have launch titles. They were Perfect Dark Zero, and Condemned: Criminal Origins. Now Perfect Dark Zero was everything I expected it to be, and a little more, but Condemned was an experience I wasn't necessarily prepared for. Condemned is a game that I was sold on after just a few gameplay videos. The first-person melee action looked too solid and beautiful to miss, and when I first played the game, my expectations were in fact high. Little did I know that Condemned was going to deliver, but in a much different way than I had expected.

I had read that Condemned was going to be a "scary" survival-horror type game, in the same vein as Resident Evil and Silent Hill. This didn't thrill me, considering I was anticipating the action and combat. In truth, Condemned turned out to probably be the first true survival-horror game. It reinvents the genre, and it does it in a way to engage the player in damn good gameplay, and also scare their pants off. Condemned is so scary in fact, that after putting the controller down hours ago I'm still left with this sort of gross feeling. A feeling that I imagine anyone in real life could feel after bashing faces in with pipes, fire axes, and sledgehammers. Every aspect of the game contributes to this feeling. The sound and visuals are so realistic that I can say almost indefinitely what would happen if I did hit someone with a paper cutter. At a time when the game industry is being lampooned for violent video games, Condemned delivers so well that it could be the icing on the cake of a very important lawsuit.

However, after playing through the game I come off with two very different feelings. Perhaps Condemned has gone too far, with next generation visuals and hyper-realistic gameplay, the feelings surrounding violent video games may in fact be too much for many to handle. While I have my doubts that DOOM could make some youth take out a classroom of his peers, Condemned on the other hand, I could believe. The part of me that feels this way hopes that while these games are wonderful outlets for stress and an experience cherished by many, they need to be carefully reviewed and kept in the hands of those that can respect what they deliver.

My second opinion is this, Condemned is truly realistic enough, to even scare someone out of doing things contained within it's gameplay. This thought came to me after seeing some fairly normal roadkill on my way to class, but I instantly got a chill, that made me think of smashed faces and bloody messes. These thoughts weren't there otherwise, a dead animal never meant the thought of a dead body, and a dead body in a game, never meant that I could imagine the sight of a dead body in real life. Knowing now how realistic a game can portray violence, I'm much less keen on performing violent acts. The very idea of doing something I saw within that game, is enough to instill within me the exact picture of what the outcome would be. A picture I hope I only ever see on my television screen.


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