Preview By: Cameron Morris
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In games, movies, comic books, and books, few genres are as popular as those involving elements of Horror. There are few elements of horror in fiction more tried and true than the serial killer - you just don't get much scarier than a guy who commits thematic murders. Similarly, in videogames, some of the scariest things on Earth only come from what can be conveyed through a first person perspective. Especially when this perspective requires you to come face-to-face with your enemy, the sheer immediacy of the danger they pose being shoved up your nose and deep into the recesses of your mind.
These concepts, by themselves, mean that Condemned: Criminal Origins is probably going to be so scary that most will be too chicken to play through it. Well, maybe not, but it sounds scarier than most games even dream of being.
In the game, you play the role of a Serial Crimes Unit Investigator, which of course means you are going to start off the game hunting down serial killers. All of your cases are dead ends, the crime rate has exploded...and, worse, you've been framed in the murder of two police officers, necessitating the infiltration of hideouts for lunatics who would like nothing more than to make your guts into a piñata. In the dark. With limited ammunition.
Like most horror games worth their salt, a good amount of the tension in Condemned comes from the fact that you are not going to be prepared to fight whatever jumps out of the shadows every time. Able to grab pretty much anything from the environment for use as a weapon - wooden boards, bricks, glass, table legs - you will find yourself feeling adequately protected while being under-protected. To phrase it more simply, you will feel quite secure with that heavy lead pipe you're toting around, ready to bust heads, until you see some lunatic come screaming out of the shadows with a machete.
Of course, that doesn't mean that you are defenseless: far from it. Aside from the ability to fight close up, you will have access to different firearms at different points in the game, including that old horror classic, the shotgun. The whole philosophy behind the game's combat, though, is this: put the enemy in your face and keep him there until one of you is dead.
The game would not, of course, be all about the combat and lurking in shadows. As a Serial Crimes Unit Investigator, you are competent when it comes to forensics, and finding patterns and recognizing the signs of a specific killer will be important when it comes time to actually hunt down the lunatics in the game, eventually leading to the one who framed you.
There's a lot that can be said for the game already: the concept has the potential to be the scariest in years, and a close-up combat system could work on a lot of levels if done properly. The atmosphere in all the screens already looks like enough to scare most grown men, and general elements for such a game look like they could form a cohesive whole that could amount to the scariest game to come along in years. When this comes out, expect to hear people run screaming into the night.
More as it becomes available.
Posted: 2005-10-29 05:39:00PST