Sure it's not fasionable to like it, but I love Condemned. When I brought it I thought it would be good, but I didn’t realise how good it would be. The game was terrifying from start to finish, each fight I got into was a desperate struggle to incapacitate the maniac/s as quickly as possible, attacking them more out of fear than for kicks.
The locations were really atmospheric, sure the opening few levels were not anything to shout about, but the later locations such as the department store and library were almost unbearably scary, and had an air of menace about them.
The fact that you didn’t even get to go outside until halfway through the game (bar the opening 30 seconds of the game) made everything feel really claustrophobic. I still remember the feeling of absolute relief I got when I first saw the night sky in the game, a feeling I hadn’t felt since returning to the mist world in Midwich school after surviving the hell of dark world Midwich School in Silent Hill.
I recently purchased Condemned 2. It is not remotely scary, I can not understand why it is not, it feels like it should be. The reasons I feel it may not be are thus;
1. In the first game you could only attack with weapons. This led to frantically searching for weapons when you were not armed. In 2 you can use your fists, sure it makes sense, but takes away the fear of being unarmed.
2. Guns were very sparse in the first game, they had limited bullets, and couldn’t be reloaded. In 2 fire arms are much more plentiful and can be reloaded lots of times.
3. The locations just are not scary in the slightest. I do not know why. The developers obviously tried to create scary locations. The doll factory being the best example. Dolls are terrifying in horror, everyone knows that, but they fail in this instance. I think the fact that you are outside so much in the game and not confined so much to narrow tunnels and corridors is also to blame for lack of fear.
4. There are far larger amount of friendly NPC’s in the game. The first one had about 2 I think, not many anyway. This time you have SWAT with you, police officers, friendly hobo’s etc, so it doesn’t feel like you are alone, thus reducing the feeling of fear. I noticed this too with Fatal Frame 2 and 3, more friendly characters equals’ reduction in fear.
5. The enemies themselves are much less crazy, especially in the second half of the game when rather than crazed druggies and tramps you get organised soldiers.
6. The last reason I could think of was the plot. The first one had you on the run from the police, trying to hunt down a serial killer, there was many unexplained elements to the plot such as dead birds a-plenty, random strips of metal, and lots and lots of eyes drawn on walls. Everything is explained in the 2nd one which takes away the mystery and bizarreness. Plot wise as well you are working with the police rather then avoiding them.
I like the game, and I have yet to finish it, so it may improve, but the feeling I got at the start of the game was similar to the disappointment I felt when playing The Suffering 2 (for the record I absolutely love ‘The Suffering’)