When I took on Condemned 2: Bloodshot, I was pretty excited. Sure, I’ve played a whole bunch of “horror” games in my time, mostly from the Resident Evil series. But as most gamers will tell you, Resident Evil is not very scary. Games like F.E.A.R. and Silent Hill are scary games. And if I’m being honest, I have never made it through any of those games. I knew Condemned 2: Bloodshot was going to be a scary game, but I didn’t realize just how terrifying a game could be. Condemned 2: Bloodshot definitely represents a great entry in the horror genre, and it’s not just because it has a creepy story behind it. Condemned 2: Bloodshot offers an immersive experience that looks, sounds, and genuinely feels like a horror game should.
Of course, we have to talk about the story first: Condemned 2: Bloodshot picks up the story of former special investigator Ethan Thomas. Ethan has had a rough time since the events of the original Condemned, and now frequents bars and smells worse than a hobo. He is tormented by visions of the horrifying things he experienced as a member of the force, and can’t shake his bad memories. However, when a strange message is left for the current members of the special forces, Ethan Thomas is forced to once again enter the underworld, where “Influenced” enemies with super-human strength and an other-worldly passion attack with an other-worldly viciousness. The “Influenced” encompass a host of people who used to be human, but have since been claimed in a most sinister and heinous way. One of the best things about the story in Condemned 2: Bloodshot is that it always keeps you guessing. As soon as you think you have figured something out, a new piece of evidence surfaces or alliances shift, and you’re literally back to square one. While most games wait until the middle or end to reveal twists in the plot, Condemned 2: Bloodshot has its first significant plot twist right at the close of level one.
The gameplay involves a combination of melee-style fighting and investigation. When you are confronted with an enemy, you will be using your fists to fight back most of the time. However, as you find them in the different environments, you can also use weapons like 2X4s and bricks, as well as many different types of firepower. It may sound a little strange, but the control for all of these fighting options is basically the same. You use the trigger buttons to either punch, swing your weapon or fire your gun. The only real difference is that when you are using a weapon or your fists you can chain together combos and perform special attacks. But if you have a gun, you are able to kill the bad guys much faster. In addition to the fighting component of the gameplay, you can also investigate crime scenes and gather forensic data about the events in the game. You’ll be required to analyze bodies and crime scenes, and will then answer questions based on what you see. Your answers to these questions will result in a forensic rating that will influence your end-of-level ranking. This is important because if you have a strong ranking at the end of a stage, you will get various weapon or armor power-ups. You can use forensic tools in your investigation, like a spectrometer, a high-powered UV light, and a digital camera.
One of the biggest things that makes this game so chilling has to be the visuals. The level designs are especially creepy and feature dark and slimy environments, small corridors, and plenty of suggestively frightening graffiti. Another thing that makes the levels very scary is the interaction between you and the environments; different actions in the game will cause your environment to change without your knowledge. One of the scariest moments in the game for me involved a snow-white mannequin in semi-formal wear. When I first approached the mannequin, I investigated it and decided it wasn’t something I could really interact with and turned in the direction of the door. But before I left the room, I heard a noise and turned around. Instead of one mannequin there were now five identical mannequins, and they were staring right at me. This may sound like it might not be too scary, but trust me: when you’re playing in the dark with the sound turned up, you’ll jump.
This game shines in 1080i. Characters, environments, and bad guys all look sharp and detailed. One thing that really stood out to me was how realistic the facial expressions of the characters were during cinema scenes. Characters furrow eyebrows, tighten lips, and make other various subtle facial gestures that aren’t usually seen in modern video games. This level of detail really impressed me and made many of the characters more believable.
Even though the story and the visuals make this game pretty scary, by far the scariest element of this game comes from the sound department. Imagine: the room goes deathly silent. Suddenly you hear the lonely squeak of a metallic wheelchair down the hall. Then, out of nowhere, you hear a maniacal laugh, and this time it’s loud. You whip around just in time to see an “Influenced” in a clown mask wailing on you with a weapon. The sounds are amazingly scary, mainly because of the timing. Most of the levels are silent or feature some light ambient music or noise. When you hear some low growling, or something unexpectedly fall to the floor, it definitely makes you jump. The voice acting in this game is also excellent, and the various characters sound very believable.
The single-player mode is extremely enjoyable, and is definitely worth the price of the game. But this title also includes online multiplayer modes. However, these modes are not as impressive as the single player mode. If you’re looking for an in-depth or lengthy multiplayer experience, this may not satisfy your needs, but if you want some fun and diverting short-term multiplayer, then this game’s multiplayer modes are right up your alley. There are two main multiplayer modes: Bloodshot Fight Club, and the standard multiplayer mode. Bloodshot Fight Club mode is exactly what it sounds like, and features combat-based multiplayer challenges where you and your online teammates have to take down several different types of enemies from the single player mode, like thugs, speedballers, and mutated dolls. The objectives vary, and some modes require you to kill a certain number of enemies, while others require you to keep certain NPCs alive. The other multiplayer mode features more classic multiplayer gameplay, with modes like deathmatch and team deathmatch. It also has a pretty cool Crime Scene mode that tests you ability to quickly gather and interpret evidence.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot definitely has all the ingredients for a memorable horror game. It has enjoyable gameplay, an engaging story, some freaky visuals, and super-effective sound. And while it is the single player mode that stands out as the best part of this title, the multiplayer is not too shabby either. This game is definitely worth adding to your library. That is, if you’re not easily scared. Don’t worry; we won’t tell if you leave the lights on while you’re playing!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.7 Graphics
Extremely atmospheric and eerie. The art direction and level design are amazing and make this title’s creepy factor go way up. 4.1 Control
Easy to use. There’s a fairly lengthy tutorial mode, and the gun / weapon / fist control schemes are surprisingly fluid, although there could have been a better mechanic for throwing weapons. 4.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Easily what makes this game so scary. Sound effects, while somewhat minimal, are used at just the right time to get you to jump. Voice acting is believable, and “Influenced” dialogue is terrifying. 4.2 Play Value
The single player mode is absolutely a blast and is the real reason to buy the game. Multiplayer modes are a little hit or miss, but if you liked the single player mode, then you’ll at least get some enjoyment out of them. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.