With Halloween approaching, I figured I might as well play Condemned: Criminal Origins again and see how it holds up now almost 9 years later. (Damn I'm getting old.) Also, an overall score of zero is average.
Condemned: Criminal Origins (Review)
Condemned's brutal melee combat system still feels great and responsive. Monolith wisely makes players get up and personal with enemies even though the game is set in first person. After playing Skyrim these controls feels like heaven. (+6)
Enemies will punish greedy players who try to attack right away, and block and parry them. This bring forth a new level of realism which makes the game feel believable. (They will also do random things like run away or hide or simply go crazy for a few seconds.) (+2)
The level design is for the most part solid, though some areas are actually too realistic, as you can get lost. But overall the levels compliment the claustrophobic feel of the combat. (+3)
While the melee system is solid, the shooting controls are dreadful, luckily there is only a few times where you actually use a gun. (-2)
I praised the enemy A.I. here simply because it was sort of the next big leap from Half-Life 1. And honestly we still haven't advanced far past this. However the game does get repetitive with only a few cool twists for the enemies later, and fighting becomes a chore. (-3)
The crime scene investigative sections of the game do break up the pace and is a novel idea, but most of the actual gameplay here is lackluster. (-1)
This is a minor complaint, however the taser is ridiculously overpowered with infinite recharge. Using it only once per level would have been much better. (-1)
Gameplay Points +4
Criminal Origins has an interesting premise, (The player is tracking down a serial killer who murders other serial killers.) The game has some decent writing, and memorable characters, but the story is not Condemned's best part. (+3)
The last few levels are really well developed and have urgency to them which ups the tension, disappointing boss fight aside - the end is great. (+1)
Condemned ruins its immersion at the start of every level from some truly terrible cutscenes, the actual shots are quite good, but the facial animations are worse than Deadly Premonition. (-1)
The stories high points are spread to only a handful of levels so there are some "filler" missions. (-2)
Story Points +1
Monolith's launch title on the 360 has aged pretty well. They based their art direction on actual condemned and abandoned buildings, and it shows. Textures and environments still look great, (especially the school level.) (+3)
The presentation is lifted straight from movies like Se7en and the recent Prisoners. (+2)
The facial designs for every character are lackluster. (-2)
Player kick animation is laughable, its basically a leg punching straight up in the air. (-1)
Art Points +2
Rosa was literally the first non-attractive supporting women character I've ever seen in a videogame, this again adds some realism, which is a nice touch. "No! I want only smokin hot broads!" (+1)
For a survival horror game the game has some truly scary moments. The infamous mannequin in-game section rivals anything from Amnesia or Outlast. The school level also has some well earned jump scares. (+5)
Picking up random objects like a 2x4 off a wall or toilet seat as weapons is a great way to add variety to the combat since both the player and enemies have a shot at both. There are 40+ total objects. (+2)
The campaign is a decent length, but there isn't much to do on a second play through if you collected all the dead birds for an achievement. (-5)
The game dips slightly in frame rate with multiple enemies on screen. (-1)
Intangible Points +4
OVERALL SCORE +11 (Good, but not great.)
Personal Opinion: Condemned Criminal Origins is definitely a must play for horror fans. It does feel a little dated though.
I have thought up a different system on reviewing games, as I feel every game is completely different, so instead of a 5/5, or whatever number, I simply have whats good vs whats bad separated by subject. (An overall score of 0 is an average game.) Also, some things are obviously more important than others so more points are allowed.
So for instance, a game that is only a text based story adventure wouldn't get docked points in the gameplay or art department because those are not important to that specific game. So here would be an example of a review...
Bioshock: Infinite (Review)
At its core, Infinite has solid controls for it's weapons and Vigors, and both feel responsive. (+7)
Skyhooks as well as Elizabeth bring some variety to the gun fights and offer different angles of attacks, whether its launching yourself from the sky to strike an enemy, or Elizabeth throwing the player ammo when he/she is running low. These elements make the engagements a little more exciting and also give the players more options. (+4)
The majority of the game is spent walking or running to the next section, but occasionally skylines are used which is a nice change of pace. (+1)
The overall level design for the shooting sections are uninspired and repetitive. The same can be said for the mission structure, often times the game will force players to backtrack through the same sections they just finished and make them fight the whole way, which is a cardinal sin. (-8)
There are only a handful of enemy types and the Handymen are not in the same league as the Big Daddies from the first Bioshock. (-2)
Very limited interactivity with the world besides listening to audio logs. (-1)
[u]Gameplay Points +1[/u]
Infinite not only has a great setting for a videogame, but also has a unique story structure. (+3)
The writing and voice acting are quite good, especially the dialogue between Elizabeth and Booker. (+7)
The two main characters talking during gameplay is a great way to make the more mundane sections interesting. Most first person games have a silent protagonist, and this is a welcome deviation from the norm. (+1)
Despite having some interesting moral issues and messages, the game doesn't do anything with them, or if it does, it comes across as heavy handed. (-2)
While the ending itself is impressive, with no foreshadowing it feels rushed. A second playthrough has no excitement other than knowing who characters really are, (you won't catch Tyler Durden popping up at every moment.) (-3)
There are few minor plot holes. (-1)
[u]Story Points +5[/u]
Stellar art direction creates a truly believable world. The atmosphere is incredible. (+4)
The games presentation is attractive and consistent. (+3)
Wooden animations and character faces hurts an otherwise solid art style. (-2)
[u]Art Points +5[/u]
Connects Columbia to Rapture. (+1)
There is little exploration for a city so "infinite." (-1)
Cartoonish violence contrasts what the story is trying to do. (-1)
Lack of a boss fight or main antagonist makes completing the game less rewarding. (-1)
Zero replay value, an unlocked harder mode does not count since it could have been an choice from the start! (-3)
Gone are the options to hack a vending machine or a turret by way of mini game only enforces that this is a more casual game then the first Bioshock, but I do not want to count that against Infinite, since both games do different things.
[u]Intangible Points -5[/u]
OVERALL SCORE +6 (Slightly above average.)
[u]Personal Opinion:[/u] Bioshock Infinite is like Irrational Games trying to hook you up with their ugly daughter by giving you plenty of alcohol and making her as attractive as possible, but deep down she is just as ugly as those other repetitive shooters...
Ok, maybe thats a bit harsh. The game does have its moments.
So, with an average score of 0, and no limit on how high a games score could go, this system would not become irrelevant over time, as videogames keep getting better and better. For instance maybe the best game ever right now using this system would get a score of (+37) but in 10, 20 years we get a game written by PTA starring Daniel Day Lewis with photorealistic graphics and it has a score of (+52) etc etc. Or am I missing something important?