A screen capture from the first Condemned game (PC version).
A screen capture from the first Condemned game (PC version).

The Condemned series takes a first-person perspective and applies it to both action and horror genres. As federal agent Ethan Thomas, the player walks through a variety of dilapidated and foreboding buildings. Most enemies in the game are psychotic in nature and will viciously attack the player on sight.

Although firearms are present in the series, Condemned games place a strong emphasis on improvised melee weaponry. Players can find a variety of brutal weapons around the game’s environments, like axes, lead pipes, 2x4s, and more. Using the triggers, players can either swing or block with these weapons.

The hallmark of the series is the way in which these melee battles are presented. Fights in Condemned are up-close and often very jarring. As enemies attack, the camera snaps back as if to absorb the impact of the blow, and wavers as Ethan regains his composure. Likewise, striking an enemy causes them to recoil under your force and yell in agony. These fights have made the game slightly notorious in the media, but in general the Condemned series’ extreme violence has very rarely been under any scrutiny.

Sequel Controversy

Condemned 2: Bloodshot was released for the Xbox 360 (which the original was released on) as well as the PS3. Although many critics gave the game positive reviews, many fans took exception to the game’s increasingly surreal and supernatural elements. The most scrutinized feature in the sequel is a late-game power that allows you to explode people’s brains by shouting. In addition, the latter portions of the game required shooting sections instead of the physical combat the series is so noted for. This led to a feeling of a letdown in comparison to the original. Some, however, found these changes made the game more intriguing and fresh.

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