Ethan Thomas returns in Condemned 2: Bloodshot for more hobo bashing, skull cracking, "WTF" filled action. The story starts out one year after the ending of Criminal Origins, where our hero has really let himself go. However, after a year being away from SCU (Serial Crimes Unit), he is called into service once again due to a strange message left by Malcom Vanhorn (a character from the first game). From there, the story takes off.
While it is certainly in Condemned style, some may think the story gets too strange. It does answer some questions from the first and while it does try and bring players up to speed (if the second game in the series is the first they've played), it helps to finish the first to really understand the situation (one part has you return to a location from the first game, where you see how much it has changed over the months). While I thought the story was an interesting one and worth playing through, it did certainly take a strange turn. But this is Condemned, and it wouldn't be so with out a moment where you think "what the hell is this all about".
The visuals of Bloodshot, while perhaps not the best, are most certainly capable of portraying a dark, disturbing world. There is a ton of detail to the environments, with piles of trash, grotesque/disgusting enemies, and overall detailed environments showing up on the screen. You are even allowed to see the city skyline more than once in this game, and travel to more diverse locations (even though they are all brought together by the common theme of decay and destruction). Overall, the visuals do a great job at portraying one of the most gruesome and disturbing games I have ever seen.
The sound in Condemned 2 is fantastic. From the weapons, the yelling/grunts of the deranged foes, ambient noises (helicopters, trains, etc.) to the strange music when encountering certain enemies (screeching and sharp tones when landing hits on these people) all bring the game to a higher level. The only thing that is slightly flawed is the voice acting, which can be uneven at some parts. Some scenes have the dialogue sounding unnatural and bizarre, while others sound really well done and authentic.
The gameplay from the first Condemned was rather slow paced and had a tendency, closer to the end, to get repetitive. Bloodshot tries to alleviate this issue by adding a fighting system with more depth, new hand to hand combat (opposed to being restricted to just pipes or 2x4's) and a higher focus on guns. While this new fighting system certainly gets the job done, by making it more fast paced, varied (yay for finishing moves), and brutal, the fact that the second half of the game has a large focus on guns makes you wonder whether this is Condemned, or just another shooter (that doesn't let you carry multiple clips for ammo).
But the most important part of these Condemned games is the scare factor, and that may be what most are wondering about. While there are certainly moments that made me jump, and others that had my heart beating extremely fast, I was disappointed that it did not seem up to par with the first game. There seem to be more predictable moments, and not enough random ones (mannequins from the first game, anyone?). The fact that the player got more guns, and an auto aim system, may have had a part in it. The guns allowed you to stay further back in situations, and if you thought you saw movement, you could blast away at the shadows. And when walking past a, seemingly, dead person on the wall and your targeting system made you focus on it (even though you were trying to look in another direction), it made you think "hey, there is a reason I'm focused on this person, perhaps they are alive". So, while there are a few moments that scared me, it was nowhere near the amount of the first and there were no moments that I had to pause the game to "recover".
Something that was enhanced and improved was the forensics aspect of the game. You are now given more control of the outcome (it doesn't feel as scripted) and there are more of these situations to break up the intense violence.
The online modes were, basically, what I expected. This means they were interesting for a couple of rounds and quickly became boring. Deathmatches dissolved into mindless, frustrating violence, in which poor hit detection and repetitive gameplay became the most noticeable aspects. More unique modes, like Crime Scene, were a breath of fresh air, in which one team (in true Condemned fashion) hides severed heads and the other team, made up of SCU investigators and armed with guns, try to locate them. Another mode was Bum Rush, where a couple of police officers have to face off against the criminals (who get more players on their side) until the time runs out. But, these modes become rather dull after a few rounds and will not keep you interested for long. In fact, you will also have a hard time locating games to play at all.
Overall, players of the original Condemned may feel disappointed. While the game has improved on some aspects, the lack of frightening moments holds it back a little and, as many people felt, the online should have been left out with more attention put towards perfecting the single player campaign. The achievements, going for a gold badge on every mission, FPS mode (unlimited ammo and more guns) and Fight Club do help with the games longevity and replay value, but it is still an experience that is on the short side.
It is still an action packed ride with many disturbing and intense moments, and a story with some twists and turns that leads to an obvious sequel, but it was not all that it could have been. And that left me with a bit of an empty feeling.