Lights Out, Everybody!
Forget that the stupid name could have graced a Steven Seagal movie from the mid-90s. Forget the buckets of guts that rank right up there with tawdry torture-porn flicks. Forget about scenarios and villains apparently taken from a list of all-time classic creeps like abandoned hospitals and evil clowns.
Then just turn out the lights. Condemned 2: Bloodshot may have a cheesy title. It may have a cheapish plot that always goes straight for the easy gross-out with the goriest kills this side of Manhunt. And it may round up its levels and baddies from the most obvious horror-game stereotypes. But with the house in darkness and everyone but me snuggled safely into bed, I canít help buying into the bloody action and the solemn, bizarre tale in this first-person survival horror game.
Itís all about brutality and atmosphere. Developer Monolith Productions knows how to smack you in the face and send shivers up your spine, as it proved with the original Condemned: Criminal Origins and oldies but goodies like the Blood shooters (easily two of the creepiest games that Iíve ever played). The story is certainly ominous enough, picking up about a year after the first game left off. By this point, though, paranormally-enhanced FBI agent Ethan Thomas is suffering some seriously deleterious effects from his earlier investigation. Messing about with serial-killing serial killers and psychotic hoboes has left him out of a job and half out of his mind, to the point where heís now a homeless wino who has to suck back booze to fend off the shakes and shoot straight.
Of course, dark stinky evil doesnít give Thomas the chance to check into the Betty Ford Center. Instead of rehab, he gets another jaunt into the darkest corners of Metro City. The mass psychosis from the first game has gotten worse, with thousands of afflicted persons known as the Influenced rioting through the streets and wearing ever more ghoulish getups like hideous clown and skull masks. So Thomas is recruited back into the FBIís Serial Crime Unit in an attempt to finally figure out whatís causing this epidemic of insanity. You soon find out that Thomasís arch-nemesis from the first-gameóthe not-so-imaginatively monikered Serial Killer Xóis still alive, and that a mysterious cult may be behind all of the nastiness.
These plot points should sound familiar if you played the original Condemned. Bloodshot pretty much follows the same storyline of its predecessor, right down to the grimy first-person perspective and the strange, surreal plot. But this isnít a straight-up rehash. Where the first game had Thomas using all manner of blunt instruments and a taser to take down baddies, the sequel lets you go to town with your fists using the left and right gamepad triggers. Melee weapons are more varied and interesting, running the gamut from pipes and electrical conduits to prosthetic limbs, bowling pins, and other out-there accoutrements (you havenít truly played a shooter until youíve bashed an enemyís head in with a toilet seat).