Whilst it may have had periods away from the limelight in recent years, the rise of Virtual Reality has done wonders for the horror genre, pushing it to the forefront of gaming and reigniting a huge interest in the unique genre once more. It’s not hard to see why either as horror provides us the opportunity to feel that sense of fear and dread within the confines of a controlled setting – something which is not really possible in many ways other than digital media.
On Xbox, horror games have been plentiful over the years and even the launch of the Xbox 360 was accompanied with a classic horror title in the form of Condemned: Criminal Origins – the first of two fantastic horror experiences. When the original released, it was enough to strike fear into the hearts of those who dared to play it, mixing the hunt for a deranged serial killer and psychological terror of the paranormal into one classic adventure. It was a fantastic experience and one many thought wouldn’t be topped… that was until Condemned 2: Bloodshot arrived and continued the dark and gritty tale whilst taking things one step further.
In the years since the release of Condemned 2: Bloodshot we’ve seen the horror genre evolve in a wide variety of ways. Slenderman, amongst many others have taken the internet by storm in the form of Creepy Pasta’s, the horror stories shaking fear into online readers. Zombies have returned to prominence as a key enemy within the genre, Resident Evil has both lost and then regained its classic horror feel, and a select few horror movies have become so fearsome that they are now arriving with warnings for those with heart conditions. All in all, horror is now in a very different state to what it was back in 2008. Nevertheless, very few games have been able to capture the unique style of horror seen within the Condemned series, with maybe only Outlast coming closest.
The story of Condemned 2: Bloodshot takes place just 11 months after the events of the original Condemned and in that time the mysterious phenomenon causing insane violence and mass psychosis amongst the homeless population of Metro City has got much worse. With riots breaking out all around the city and every street prone to violence each night, Metro City is one of the most dangerous places to be.
In amongst the mess is returning protagonist Ethan Thomas. This time around though you’re no longer a part of the FBI’s Serial Crime Unit – at least not permanently – instead, after resigning following the events of the Serial Killer X investigation, Ethan is now a homeless, violent alcoholic himself. The paranormal visions haven’t gone away and with alcohol problems taunting him as an antagonistic alter-ego during the paranormal visions, Ethan is caught in a downward spiral.
Under the orders of Director Farrell however, Ethan was recruited back into the Serial Crime Unit to investigate the murder of his former mentor Malcolm Vanhorn. Aided by old partner Rosa, Ethan’s investigations brought about the information that former nemesis Serial Killer X was still alive, having been nursed to health by his uncle, Malcolm Vanhorn.
Whilst the original saw gameplay focussed heavily on the investigation side of things, Condemned 2: Bloodshot took things forward with a slightly different focus. Investigation still played a part this time around but no longer was it the main goal and instead players were focussing on the story of the Oro organization, a secret cult whose plans to control everyone via way of sonic power were well underway. The remedy to the Oro was Ethan, and as a perfectly evolved being whose vocal chords could generate the Oro’s sonic power without having to use metal implants, this of course would see him proving to be a real threat to those wanting complete control. Naturally it wasn’t long before Ethan was once more being headhunted, but with the fine tuning of his powers, players were able to destroy both flesh and bone, making him quite the opposing threat to one of humanities deadliest cults.
Although the story focus was exceptionally different to that of the first game, gameplay was still very much the same – albeit with some new and well worked features added in to the mix.
The first major change saw the introduction of bare-fisted hand-to-hand combat which was controlled with the left and right triggers respectively. This allowed for chained combo attacks which provided some rather satisfying melee combat. These were perfectly showcased within the Bloodshot Fight Club maps which provided a separate game mode for players to enjoy away from the excitement of the main game.
Another notable change in the sequel was the heavier presence of firearms. Although they were present in the original, they were so scarce that the game never even had a reload button. That was changed in the sequel however and some levels within the game even brought focus on firefights against enemies wielding assault rifles.
Despite no longer being a part of the FBI’s Serial Crime Unit permanently, the game still held a heavy component of forensic investigation and it came in a much-improved state of that of its predecessor. With players able to investigate and catalogue different elements of each crime scene before making statements about the nature of the crime, when correct, it would see a better ranking given which would lead to upgrades such as body armour and brass knuckles.
It wasn’t without issue though and a key issue was the forced multiplayer. Arriving in a time in which multiplayer was beginning to really take off within console gaming, there was a pressure for Condemned 2: Bloodshot to have it incorporated in someway or another. The result was a terrible mess. It was laggy, it was dull, it was unpopulated and without it the game could have proven to be an all-round resounding success.
Even with a horrifically unsettling storyline, sales came in much lower than expected and Condemned 2: Bloodshot was the last we saw of the series, with the development team stating that a sequel will sadly never happen. However back in 2015, Monolith co-founder and former CEO Jace Hall – the rights holder to the Condemned series – expressed a desire to find the right indie development team to take the series forward. Of course, since that point, and sitting here now in 2018, nothing has come of it, but there’s still hope that a third entry within the series could be possible. With very little on the market even coming close to the unique experience of Condemned and Condemned 2: Bloodshot, there are sure to be many out there who would relish the return of forensic investigation into more of the unique and grizzly murders that Condemned mastered so well.
10 years without a sequel is criminal.
But what do you think? Did you enjoy Condemned 2: Bloodshot? Would you be up for another game in the series? Let us know in the comments below or via our usual social channels.