Condemned: Criminal Origins
An unnatural wave of serial murders terrorizes the city. As a member of the Serial Crimes Unit, you will rely on sharp instincts and sophisticated forensic tools to investigate crime scenes, collect evidence, and find clues that will lead you to the killers. With danger lurking in every shadow, you’ll need whatever weapons you can find to stay alive. If you run out of bullets, you’ll have to make do with a fire axe, shovel, two-by-four, or whatever you can pry from the environment around you.
RELEASE DATE 11.16.2005
PLATFORMS Xbox 360
Although the game is played entirely from a first person perspective (only broken for cutscenes) it is not a first-person shooter. Firearms are present, but fleeting. The guns that can be found, or taken from enemies, are only good for as long as the current ammo in the clip lasts; once this is depleted, the butt of the gun can be used as a weapon.
The focus of the experience is on improvised mêlée, allowing players and enemies to collect, or even pull, weapons from their surrounding environments, such as pipes, shovels, and 2x4s. A full list of weapons is available further down this page. The word often employed by the developers of the game to describe the combat is ‘visceral‘. A Duke3D style quick-kick is available for attacking without, or alongisde, a handheld weapon, and attacks can be unleashed in different directions and configurations, such as left to right or overhead, but combat is notable for not utilising a combo system, unlike similar titles such as The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. In many cases, blocking is necessary both before and after landing a successful hit.
The artificial intelligence displayed by enemies requires the player to think on their feet a great deal more than similar games. Enemies are able to flee and hide effectively, often surprising the player by quickly appearing from a concealed spot. Enemies can also effectively feint, in order to trick the player into blocking at an inopportune time, leaving themselvs open for the real attack.
It should be noted that although there are sharp weapons in the game, you cannot stab or dismember enemies. Some mêlée weapons fall under the class of entry tool, and act as keys in the gameworld, allowing the player to access new areas or locked boxes.
Condemned is unique for directly involving the player in crime scene investigations, offering the ability to, at the press of a context-sensitive button, call upon a suite of forensic tools to find and record evidence. The player character is linked to an FBI lab via his mobile phone throughout the investigation, allowing (almost immediate) remote examination and analysis by his support worker. Crime scene evidence can be used to solve puzzles, allowing the player to pass previously impassable barriers, and provide clues to the overall mysteries of the story.
Examples of evidence include fingerprints, footprints, fibres, fluids (such as blood), particles, residues, markings/etchings, material, imprints, wounds, small objects, documents, and body parts.
The player character is gifted with the instinctual ability to detect when forensic evidence is nearby, allowing players to bring up the detection and collection tools when appropriate. However, the “instincts” of the character only vaguely highlight the area in which the evidence resides, it is up to the player to methodically sweep the scene and catalogue any findings.
Official promo shots
Throughout various areas of the city, birds are falling from the skies and dying in droves. Inexplicably linked to this phenomenon is a huge increase in crime, particularly of the violent variety, amongst the homeless, addicted, and deranged. Even the police fear to tread within certain districts, as officers fighting in these areas are also being drawn into committing crimes, often against each other.
The game begins as FBI Agent Ethan Thomas arrives on a homicide crime scene. A police officer found the body on routine patrol, and the MO of the murder is found to match that of the Match Maker, a serial killer at large who abducts young girls and strangles them, posing them in twisted tableaux with male department store dummies; the face of the dummy always partially disfigured in the same way. From evidence on the scene, the killer is determined to be missing his right index finger.
It becomes apparent to the officers that the killer is still on the scene, and is able to take Agent Thomas’ firearm while he is incapacitated from an electrical short. Unarmed and vulnerable, Thomas witnesses strange hallucinations of shadowy forms. Several floors later, he is ambushed by the killer. Beaten and held at gunpoint, he is told “Don’t mess this up for us – we are both on the same path of righteousness.” As the other officers enter, the killer despatches them with one shot each, before warning Thomas to “get ready for death” and hurling him through the nearest window. Thomas falls several floors, landing on the roof of a car.
Thomas awakens on a couch in his apartment, somewhat dazed and confused. He stumbles into the bathroom to wash his face, and looks up to see a man-like creature attach itself to him and pull back his head. Thomas awakens, again. It was a dream. He is warned by an old friend of his deceased father, Malcom Van Hornn, to flee the police and clear his name for the killings of the two officers with his gun. He makes his way through the adjacent Metro station and finds evidence of the killer showing a distinct interest in Thomas’ career, tracking down serial killers. Thomas is able to find a handprint at the scene, but, surprisingly, it is not missing the right index finger.
The killer stumbles upon Thomas in his lair, and flees. Thomas follows, and catches up to him on a train. The killer knocks Thomas from the rapidly moving train. He is strangely unharmed, and continues investigating the area. He finds a supposed second hideout of the killer, matching evidence with that found on the initial crime scene, and also linking him to a department store in the area of Burnside. Therein, Thomas finds evidence that suggests he should be looking for another body; a handprint is found on a desk which matches the Match Maker’s, with the missing index finger, and blood splatter residue on the forward facing wall from the print. Thomas soon finds a residual blood trail, and follows it to find another Match Maker tableaux. This time, the department store dummy is female, and the victim is male. The male has a distinctive mark on his face which matches that of the male dummies… and is also missing his right index finger. While discussing the implications of this with his lab worker, they are interrupted by a fight in the department store erupting between addicts and the Police.
They set up a rendezvous in the downtown Library, which is currently closed for repairs after extensive fire damage; there should still be a usable computer terminal there which they can use, without fear of being monitored by the FBI. Rosa, his lab worker, determines from the evidence gathered thus far that out of 9 serial killer cases Thomas has worked on, 7 were crossed out on newspaper clippings in the first hideout, corresponding to cases which have gone cold. They decide it is fair to assume that the Match Maker is number 8. The final murderer is the Torturer.
At the library Rosa shows Thomas an addendum to his personnel file. Within, Rosa reveals, it is shown that Thomas possesses bone and muscular density beyond what was thought possible, and one region of his brain is hyperactive, the implications of which are unknown. The final part of the file is a chest x-ray, with the area of the esophagus and larynx redacted. Rosa is kidnapped while Thomas is hallucinating, and is forced to detail the MO of the Tortuer to Serial Killer X, the killer of killers. When reunited with Thomas, they deduce the location of the Torturer’s hideout from a recent news report of an ex-teacher coming forward with evidence. Serial Killer X also possesses this information, and it becomes a race to find the Torturer – and the teacher who has since gone missing.
At the school, Thomas is able to find the body of the teacher, who is now missing both his lips and entire left arm. Tibbits is found to still be (barely) alive, and tells Thomas of a second man who came and took Carl Anderson, the Torturer, away. A pesticide residue is found on the locker door where the Tortuer was pushed against it by Serial Killer X. Thomas suggests there may be a link there to the town of Brier, as it is very rural. This proves to be true, as an orchard is found there which used that same type of restricted pesticide. Tibbits dies from his substantial wounds.
Van Hornn drives Thomas to his next destination of the orchard, and leaves him to check the main house while he investigates the barn. Thomas is attacked by one of the man-like cratures in the attic, which disappears when killed. He finds a scrapbook covering his entire FBI career, and then the body of Carl Anderson, who has commited suicide by impalement on a fireplace poker after the torture proved too great for him. When Serial Killer X returns, Thomas switches his clothes with Anderson and plays possum. They fight, but Thomas is knocked down by a blow to the back of the head from Van Hornn, sporting a shovel. Van Hornn tries to reason with Leland, his nephew the killer, saying that he’s not in his right mind and can be helped. Leland responds by strangling Van Hornn just as Thomas’ consciousness fades.
It transpires that Leland has been using Thomas to find serial killers, and kill them by their own methods. This results in each case going cold, as the latest victims are not realised to be the killers themselves. As Leland is talking, Thomas looks to the rafters and sees the man-like creature there, watching. Leland cuts off Thomas’ left index finger, before being wrestled to the ground by Van Hornn, who yells to Thomas that “it” is behind all of the madness, and must be tracked down and killed.
Thomas pursues the creature, and eventually kills it. As they are driving back to town, Van Hornn tells Thomas that he can never go back to the Bureau or his old life – he has seen the visage of hate, they are the ones who drive people to violence and murder. Thomas discovers that Van Hornn has kept Leland alive in the trunk of his car, and wishes to exact revenge for all the death, and the loss of his finger. Van Hornn protests, claiming that he was not responsible. The player is then given the option of taking revenge, or showing compassion. If they shoot Leland, the scene ends. If they do not, or hesitate, Leland breaks free of his bonds and waves a gun at Thomas and Van Hornn, before turning the gun on himself and pulling the trigger.
Rosa confronts Thomas in a diner after the whole thing has blown over, informing him that the Bureau can link the entire thing to an ancient cult, which Thomas finds proposterous but is unable to provide any evidence to the contrary. At the close of the game, Thomas enters the bathroom of the diner, and washes his face in the sink. The creature appears behind him, and approaches. Thomas then turns towards the camera, and we see that he has a metal jaw just like the creatures.
- UV Light – The UV Light’s primary function is to detect traces of blood visible and invisible to the naked eye causing it to stand out brightly if within the light range of the device. It will illuminate the immediate area directly ahead of the device with a purplish light.
- Laser Light – The Laser Light device produces a relatively small cone of light that’s greenish in color. It’s capable of illuminating latent pieces of evidence invisible to the naked eye, causing it to stand out brightly if within the light range of the device.
- Gas Spectrometer – The Gas Spectrometer monitors the presence of a foreign substance in the air, displaying its concentration in a meter. The player can use the meter to track down the pollutant’s source such as fumes (most notably methan gas emitted by decaying flesh).
- Sampler – The Sampler evaluates the chemical makeup of a piece of evidence and transmits that back to the lab for identification and evaluation.
- 3D Scanner – The 3D Scanner captures the three dimensional aspect of evidence and transmits the information back to the lab.
- Digital Camera – The Digital Camera is used to capture images that are transmitted back to the lab for evaluation.
Firearms, entry tools & melee weapons
List of obtainable firearms
- .45 caliber handgun
- Pump action shotgun
- Sawn-off shotgun
- Submachine gun
List of entry tools (double as weapons)
- Fire axe
List of other obtainable weapons
- 2×4 (with bolts or nails, or on fire/burnt)
- Clothes rack
- Desk drawer
- Fighting stick
- Fireplace poker
- Large plank
- Locker door
- Mannequin arm
- Meat cleaver
- Paper cutter
- Pipe (large, small, steam, gas)
- Rebar (straight, concrete, or bent)