It’s also a game that starts off looking like an FPS, but soon transforms into something much more interesting. Early cues come in the form of FBI gadgetry, used to scan the opening murder scene and send clues back to Rosa, your friend in the lab, for analysis, but the game only reveals its true character when the gun is literally ripped from your hand. Condemned is actually a survival horror game, and a shockingly brutal one at that. If TrustedReviews were a crude and unpleasant place, we might describe it as a First-Person S***ter, because it’s definitely a brown trousers sort of game.
After the initial set-up – mysterious bird plague, violent vagrants, weird serial killers, you framed for murder – the game settles into a fairly steady pattern. You wander through a variety of creepy, deeply unpleasant locations, using your various scanning and imaging gadgets to uncover clues, while under frequent assault by assorted tramps, thugs, winos, nuts dressed like shop store dummies and depraved underground mutants. All these charming fellows come tooled up with planks (accessorised with nails or bolts according to whim or custom), pipes, sledgehammers, fire axes and – if you’re really unlucky – guns. You, in the meantime, are armed with whatever you can wrench from the scenery or grab from their hands. This puts the emphasis heavily on melee combat, for which the game uses a simple but effective system of triggers for whacking and blocking, plus some nifty counters and useful kicks. If you’re really stuck, you can even use a taser to buy some time – essential when taking a 2×4 with nails in to a guy packing a loaded .45.