When I was younger, I was terrified the first time I saw the black and white version of Psycho. Everything in the genre spooked me. Even things that didn’t remotely related… like the X-Files theme song. I’m not proud to admit it, but I used to be the type of person that jumped at everything and anything, and I’d probably have a nightmare about it later.
However, things change. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but I do remember reading through Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery and thinking: “Wow, that was creepy. I like it.” Suddenly I wasn’t afraid of the genre, and in a random twist of irony, it turned out I liked it. Nowadays, I find myself looking through games, movies and books that are scary. For the most part, things have come up short or have just dissolved down to shock factor, excessive gore, and/or zombies. So, when I find something, like a game (Yes, I’m getting there), that actually is scary, I’m impressed. So, without further delays…
This week’s game…
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Here’s a brief synopsis. You play as FBI agent Ethan Thomas who is now investigating a series of grisly murders by the serial killer The Match Maker. During this investigation Ethan finds out that the killer may still be at the scene with him, and with the help of a few cops in the area, attempt to hunt the killer down. But things don’t go as planned and Ethan soon finds the situation out of control as the killer steals his gun. After being knocked out, Ethan wakes up in his apartment to find out that two police officers were shot using his gun. Now he finds himself on the run from the police while trying to prove his innocence.
In horror/suspense/thriller survival games, one thing that I’ve found maintains the balance of the 1 vs. 100 feeling is weaponry. If your opponents have no weapons, you have a melee weapon. If they have melee weapons, you have firearms. The protagonist always needs to have that little edge against his foes. The folks at Sega decided to say “The hell with that.”
That’s one of the things I like about this game. You find yourself on par with the enemies you’re fighting. Both you and your enemies will either fight hand to hand or with improvised weapons like pipes and axes. There are a few points where you get access to a firearm or two, but ammunition is scarce. However, the better part of your enemies are meth-out psychotic criminal ninjas who don’t feel pain and have a natural immunity to bullets (In truth, this is a minor exaggeration). It really raises the tension in-game.
The game keeps you on your toes from start to finish with a creepy atmosphere that doesn’t give up. No, not even for a second. I found it hard pressed to find any spot in the game where I felt safe for longer than a moment or two before I heard some crazed criminal rustling around in the shadows.
Check out Condemned: Criminal Origins for Xbox 360 and Windows.