Condemned: Criminal Origins Reviews

  • FFX BrotherhoodFFX Brotherhood956,195
    17 Nov 2012
    18 0 5
    Condemned or Condemned: Criminal origins if you are from outside Europe, is a First person perspective psychological horror game released by Monolith Studios in November/December 2005. The game emphasises melee combat and tends to avoid the use of fire-arms. A sequel known as Condemned 2: Bloodshot was released in 2011 following on the story from the original.


    You are Ethan Thomas, at least the character you are playing as is Ethan Thomas. One of the best FBI investigators the bureau has ever had, with a knack for solving crime scenes like no other agent. You are dispatched to a dilapidated building to analyse a murder scene left by the Serial Killer known as the “Match-Maker”. However upon arrival things evidently go badly, and one things leads to another with Ethan being forced out of the Bureau and on the run to attempt to stop the mysterious protagonist “Serial killer X” or SKX as he is referred to, a serial killer that kills other serial Killers. You will need to catch this SKX while fighting off gangs of violent and psychotic Hobo’s; bums; drug addicts ETC while trying to find the underlying causes behind the sudden sharp rise in aggression and violence.


    You play from a First-person perspective with the main key element of the game focusing on close quarters melee combat. Melee weapons range from pipes and bits of 2x4 to fire axes and metro station signs. There are guns available however ammo is scarce and you can only carry one magazine at a time. Meaning you have to make every bullet count. Right trigger attacks and left trigger blocks, the key to the game is working out the timing for blocking and attack to dispatch the enemies with as least trouble as possible. While the combat can be a little dodgy and a bit crazy at times, it really does give a brutal and visceral feel when you connect a fire axe to someone’s Jaw.

    Apart from the fighting you will also be asked to analyse crime scenes. Essentially you will be asked to pull out a certain gadget (Game decides which one for you) and you then have to find the evidence and either take a picture of it, take a sample etc. I found this quite innovative and interesting but also quite annoying sometimes. The clues are quite obvious as to what you have to do, so there really isn’t much of a search and find aspect. If anything it serves as nothing more than a simple puzzle game to break up the fighting and horror aspects and keep things reined into the storyline.


    The graphics are by no means great; the game was pretty much a launch game after all. However despite this the dark atmosphere and level design gives off a great sense of the locations being “Condemned” and dark. Levels are normally pretty dark but that is normally easily negated by your handy flashlight but even so some of the later levels you soon realise the torch doesn’t light up enough of the room to see everything that’s moving about.

    The game is also quite visceral. Fighting in particular is very bloody and gore ridden so if you aren’t too keen on that I would stay away. If you like blood and gore however then you are sure to love the feeling of connecting a 2x4 filled with bolts to some poor buggers head before watching blood and teeth fly out. In terms of enemy design some of the enemies genuinely look quite scary, by this I mean the creepy ones that crawl and look likes the Child of the Grudge. Other enemies look violent and psychotic and give off a sense that they really do not like you, so this is a plus. But again don’t expect high level graphics from this game, they are satisfactory at best but if you don’t mind too much for the graphics of a game then you should be fine.


    The sound in this game is pretty non-existent in terms of music. Although there are two sides to this, music can make a game scarier if used correctly but then so can complete silence, especially if you can hear the drug-addict in the room next to you breathing. So no music in this game, at least I don’t remember any; apart from the boss battle (Which is actually pretty good and used very well) but the silence adds its own creepy atmosphere to the game by making sure you hear everything that you don’t want to.

    Sound effects wise I thought the game was brilliant. Linking back to the violence there is a satisfying sound of connecting melee weapons with a bad guy, it’s like you can hear it causing them pain. Other sounds like cans and bottles being kicked are good; it leaves you debating whether it was you who kicked them, and noises of people’s foot-steps also add to the atmosphere of the game. Also some collectibles AKA the birds make “Cawing” noises so you need to listen out for them.

    Voice acting wise, the characters are pretty bland. There really isn’t anything special here to be said, apart from maybe SKX having quite a sarcastic voice which is at times chilling to listen to him speak. Overall I’d say if you wanted to play this game, turtle beaches or headphones would be good to amplify the immersion and atmosphere, plus it makes the bird collectibles easier to hear.

    Replay Value:

    There is NO multiplayer in this game at all. The only game mode is the single-player and this can last for a good 7-8 hours depending on your play-style and how you take the levels. However once the campaign has been completed there really isn’t that much in terms of replay-ability.


    The achievements are a typical mix of “Complete mission X” or complete game on “X difficulty”. Other achievements are the typical collectibles and multiple endings of which there are 2 possible endings. There are also random achievements for completing so many levels using only melee weapons or in fact for using every melee weapon and fire arm in the game. Nothing too difficult here if you want a 100%, could be done in a day if blitzed.

    One odd thing to note is that the gamer score actually accumulates to 970 gamer score instead of 1000. I assume this is because the game was released at launch before any of the modern achievement rules/guidelines came in and as such was left at 970G. Again nothing too difficult, there are some good collectible guides right here on TA for use if you want them.


    Overall I found Condemned to be a fun FPS/Horror game that at times actually had me scared. It’s also not one of those solely Jump scare horrors either; the atmosphere at times can cause you to psychologically fear things in itself. That’s not to say that there aren’t jump scares however because there are. I played this after I played the second so I can’t really say which I prefer, In terms of horror and atmosphere definitely this game would be better, but in terms of story and game play possibly the sequel Bloodshot. I would however strongly recommend this game if you are a fan of the sequel or a fan of nitty-gritty horrors and don’t care too much for graphics or voice acting.
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    kinskiundkinskiGreat review, very on the point.
    Posted by kinskiundkinski on 05 May 13 at 22:42
    FFX BrotherhoodThank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
    Posted by FFX Brotherhood on 06 May 13 at 23:50
    Dadmixi like it when you break it up into sections ie graphics,sound ect it makes easy reading. Good review after reading i broght it as i was on the fence about it. i know its old dated but its still a fun game & easy looking achievements,after playing it was worth the free £3 ms gave me 👍
    Posted by Dadmix on 29 Nov 19 at 12:17
  • K0mradeK0mrade132,069
    01 May 2009
    32 14 5
    Condemned: Criminal Origins is in my opinion the better of the two condemned games, and the best game to come out at launch. Yes it had bugs, and yes it had things that needed to be improved upon, which happened with Comdemned 2: Bloodshot. Even if you've played Condemned 2 and think it Criminal Origins would be a step back, you should play the first game because, though it doesn't have as many features, it offers a better playing experience.

    To save some people some time, I'll start off by saying this game is not in the least bit family friendly. If gore bothers you, this game would not be a good idea to play.

    From the beginning the game sets itself up as a particularly violent horror game, bordering on the sadistic at times, which gives the tone for the entire game. What really sets Criminal Origins apart from Bloodshot is its far more visceral feel. While the game does dip into the supernatural near the end, the majority of the game takes place mostly in reality with the occasional psychotic episode. To me, this is what made the game great.

    You play as Ethan Thomas, an FBI agent tracking a serial killer refered to as SKX(Serial killer X). The game has a pretty good mystery arch, which won't leave you guessing but it will leave you wanting to know what happens next. It's much like listening to a great story that you can see where it's going, but you just love to hear the next part anyway. The game does a good job of drawing the player in. It offers several varied locations all of which are drenched in a dark ambience that help to keep the experience nerve-wracking. A feeling of wariness is felt throughout the entire game. You'll find yourself at times being hesistant to go around a corner, or checking behind you just to make sure. The lighting can be a bit of an issue as the game is extremely dark. I'm not a big fan of straining to see so I turned up the brightness a little, and everything worked far better for me. The game's enviornment and atmosphere are its big winners, along with an interesting story arch.

    The technical side of the game is far less impressive. The graphics are sub-par, and though I didn't buy a 360 until well after a year of its release I'm pretty sure they would have been sub-par at release. The combat is clunky. Hand to hand combat, the big selling point of the game, can be fun for a while but isn't implemented that well. It does make sense that you can't do anything terribly amazing while wielding a piece of rebar, but simply bashing heads can only go so far to maintain interest. The gun combat is even worse. You never carry extra ammo on you, so you're always limited by that. It doesn't make much sense limiting you at all times to the ammo in your gun, but that's how the game works. You do get a tazer which can be very useful to stun enemies for an easy melee kill, which more often than not replaces your side arm in terms of what you jump to first.

    The sound is the game's best technical aspect. There combat effects can sound grusome, and the voice acting is mostly well done. Being the game's best technical aspect doesn't mean that it's great, just that it's about at par for what you'd expect.

    The game's replay value is poor. The main thing that sucks you in is the story, and once that is wrapped up the combat is not something you'll come back for time and time again. It definitely makes a better rental because one play through will take you a good 10-20 hours, but that's about all the play time most people will get from this.

    Condemned: Criminal Origins, is in my opinion a better game than Bloodshot. While it offers a less refined and clunkier experience than Bloodshot, Criminal Origins offers an experience that is better. It may be older, uglier and more awkward, but at the end of the day an experience that sucks you in is still an experience that sucks you in....unless you don't like gore. Then it'd probably be an experience that makes you retch.
  • cc99999cc99999310,507
    09 Oct 2009
    24 10 1
    In a Minute Review - Condemned

    Condemned combines the best elements of the FPS genre and survival horror. The game takes place in dank dark corridors of burned out and abandoned buildings as you try to cobble together clues to track down a serial killer (who just might happen to be you!?!).

    Even by today's standards, Condemned is a good looking game. It's also very dark- and perhaps that's why it comes across as being so eerie. You never get the feeling that your are alone in the game's skeletal corridors and even though the game never throws more your way than you can physically handle (Monolith gets my undying love for not featuring infinitely respawning enemies - save for the basement of one level) - mentally, though, Condemned should test the mettle of even the most veteran horror fan.

    I briefly mentioned the FPS genre. For me, Condemned, upon its release, was one of the best FPS I had ever played on a console. Condemned doesn't oversell firepower- especially in close quarters- oh shit someone just jumped out of the shadows- combat. The game features an ample amount of melee objects and the occasional firearm with limited ammunition. Isn't that more realistic than countless ammo drops along linear pathways?

    I think so. One of Condemned: Criminal Origins' contemporary titles was the exceptional Call of Duty 2. If you allow yourself to follow my line of thinking- Condemned limited ammo and limited reliance on ammunition makes Condemned the best launch FPS - and Call of Duty 2's endlessly spawning bad guys and bullet time life-or-death trials of error as you try to advance from checkpoints to checkpoint was the best puzzle title available at launch.

    Or maybe I'm just being retarded.
  • StiltongrenadeStiltongrenade404,161
    06 May 2019
    4 5 0
    I received an Xbox 360 in Christmas 2008 and Condemned: Criminal Origins was the first title I played. It had me from the get go, the dark, claustrophobic environments, the bone-crunching combat, the ambient soundtrack, the feeling of wandering a cursed city occupied only by maniacs.

    The combat is visceral, landing a hit gives clear visual feedback of damage as an attacking hostile stumbles around dizzily, every fight is a brutish melee fought with random objects picked from the surroundings, planks of wood, pipes, etc. There are firearms but they are few and far, the game insists on the close quarters combat.

    The setting is eerily atmospheric as the player navigates murky public buildings, the whole city has a feeling of desertion, signs of decay to structure and faulty electronics exacerbate the ruined feeling.