If Condemned: Criminal Origins was just the tip of the iceberg, then Condemned 2: Bloodshot is the Titanic smashing into it.
Bloodshot, because of its expansive horror elements and copious amounts of gore, feels more like a harsh NC-17-rated sequel to its moderately R-rated predecessor. Forgetting the improved fighting mechanics, reworked game play elements, and prettier graphics for a moment, Condemned 2 is easily one of the most graphic, disturbing and pervasively violent games I’ve ever played. Not only will you be punching, bludgeoning, shooting, and exploding the heads of numerous psychotics, you will also be tossing them into television sets, dunking their heads in toilet bowls, smashing their craniums in doorways, and slamming their faces into posts, shelves, and fences. If anyone thought the first Condemned went too far with its violent content, be warned that Bloodshot pushes the limits.
But twisted violence isn’t the only thing on this menu; much of the previous title’s game play has been improved, reworked and revamped for this sequel. The first Condemned was, disappointingly, lacking a combo system to accompany its brutal melee combat. This, however, has been remedied in Bloodshot. Each respective hand is controlled with either the left or right triggers. You can perform combos with all sorts of handheld weapons and even your fists when a melee weapon is not equipped. Knowing when to block or parry your attackers, as well as attack with a combo are very important aspects of Bloodshot and will lead to you coming out victorious in each melee battle. Moreover, for each type of combo you string together successfully you fill up a small portion of your combo meter which will then allow you to unleash a devastating, Quick Time combo on an opponent that will immediately defeat most enemies. There is a seemingly endless supply of combos to try out and you will be practically begging for more enemies to come your way just to see what you can conjure up.
Also new to Bloodshot is the ability to perform environmental finishers instead of Criminal Origins’s four D-pad-based kills. Akin to the original Condemned, when you have weakened an opponent and gotten him to his knees, position yourself in front of them and press the left and right triggers simultaneously to grab them. Walk them over to skull icons in the environment, which signal environmental kills. There are an innumerable amount of ways to finish off an opponent environmentally, some as simple as slamming them into the corner of a shelf, others as brutal as kicking your victim in the face, laying his head in between a doorway, then slamming the door into it a couple of times. Rest assured, though, that the melee combat is just as satisfying as ever (if not more so with the inclusion of numerous, varied combos and the aforementioned Quick Time combo finishers). Firearm combat is also incredibly satisfying but like the original Condemned, firearms and their ammunition are quite scarce.
More impressive, however, may be just how deep Monolith has made the investigative sequences this time around. Instead of simply having the correct detection tool preselected for you only at the given moments they are most required, you can now select any of four tools at any time during game play. The investigative sequences are also now much more detailed and elaborate. You must now collect a certain number of evidence then come to an educated conclusion based on the given clues from the scene around you. You must determine, from a list of possible evidential conclusions, which selection (or selections) is correct and, the more correct deductions you make, the better overall score you receive for that scenario (and the better quality your item upgrades are). Due to their elaborate, involving nature, these sequences are what I really found the most rewarding in Bloodshot
Perhaps not the prettiest game around and not a huge departure from the first, Bloodshot is still quite a looker. The art direction is fantastic, the visuals are gritty and fittingly morbid, and the cinematics are some of the more interesting I’ve had the pleasure of watching (as well as some of the more highly detailed). Although environments, much like the first, tend to look the same moving from one location to another and are more like giant mazes than believable real-world locations, they create a sense of desperation and paranoia within their creepy designs, as well as bleakness. Character models are the game’s strong suit and all are presented with an incredible amount of detail and hi-res texture work. The game’s entire look, though not the most graphically impressive, is surely one of the most unique and that definitely counts for something.
It should be noted that Condemned 2: Bloodshot is not for everyone. The game’s ridiculously vile tone, morbid violence, and tense atmosphere will certainly alienate many, but those same attributes will please devotees of the survival/horror genre. First-person shooter fans wanting something a bit different from your more atypical action experience will surely want to seek this out.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol. This game can also be found on: PS3.