Condemned: Criminal Origins - 360 - Preview
Getting my hands on a Xbox 360 controller in the Sega booth, I felt the kind of woozy thrill you get when you first lay your hands on something the outside world is yet to experience. I was touching something new and the game that was displayed up on the plasma screen was but a small taste of what the system can do visually. Condemned: Criminal Origins, a first-person shooter game that might just be available at the launch of Microsoft’s new system is already showing great promise in the visual department but when it comes to the action that I experienced wasn’t bad at all.
As a FBI agent on the trail of a vicious serial killer, you dare to step into the darkest corners of a city infested with deranged killers ready to tear you apart. Its dark tone makes the world like a decaying cesspool and while your job is to collect evidence along the way it is also to survive or be killed. “Don’t think Resident Evil,” Associate PR manager Ethan Einhorn said. “Think Silence of the Lambs or the movie Seven.” And playing through the game’s demo, you’ll see how this one will certainly be just as shocking as those thrillers.
The demo starts in a dilapidated building with the interior looking as though it rotted away with time. You’re armed with an evidence collecting kit and nothing else because in this game just about everything is a weapon. My first encounter was with a savage hobo that, judging by his snarl and his wanting to break a gym locker door on my head, isn’t interested in spare change. Grabbing a rusted pipe from off the ground I begin to pummel him over the head, sending the enraged madman to the ground. When he gets up, he’s even madder than before and it isn’t until I block one of his blows with my other arm and send my pipe down on his head that he doesn’t get back up again. Oh, it doesn’t end there.
Going outside, police officers are shooting other enraged thugs and a police helicopter is circling overhead. I turn in time to see another hobo attack a mean-looking thug and the pair fight to the death right before me. When the hobo is killed, the thug turns his attention on me and that’s when I discover the tazer. Using my tazer I zap my foe, his limbs suddenly twitching violently and realistically as the blue electrical volts fry him. He drops, his body crumpled naturally thanks to the Havok 3.0 physics engine.
Then more thugs come jumping off the fence in front of me, one of them wielding a gun. In my haste to move away, I pick up a 2X4 with rusted nails. It’s the perfect weapon because it quickly makes short work of the armed thug, sending him to the filthy ground. I then kick him, finishing him off and turning my attention to the other thug.
Control-wise the game feels good, although the framerate isn’t as steady as we’d like it to be. Secondly, the enemy AI still has a long way to go seeing as how some of the ones I’ve encountered get stuck in certain places. Still, with the Xbox 360 launch still a long way from now, there’s plenty of time to see to these things.
Visually, Condemned sports some seriously gorgeous lighting effects, fantastic textures and lots of detail that makes everything from environments to characters look so life-like. There are still some clipping issues. I knocked one enemy with a pipe and his head was stuck to the wall. The bodies also disappear without a trace.
Yes it looks good and yes the game is actually a lot of fun but it still has a few things to work out before it becomes one of the launch titles gamers are going to want to have among their new collection.