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Sega’s invite to play games and eat cakes was too tempting, so Ripten arrived with pockets deep enough to hold a week’s supply of food, and pilfered enough grub to fill them. As well as the iced-goodness, Sega were keen to ram Condemned 2 down our throats. Fortunately, Monolith’s bloody, brutal horror also left a rather sweet taste in our mouths.

condemed2-main-char.jpgEthan Thomas, returning protagonist, is having a rough time. His past has twisted him into a burnt-out alcoholic who must now struggle with himself as much as the world around him. If he has been metaphorically giving “the system” a view of his prominent middle finger, Ethan can decide to give individuals a similar treatment – as demonstrated during our play test

Punching is an uncompromising affair: the enemy’s face suffering desolation under your resolute fist, flesh and bone breaking with jarring realism. It would be off-putting if it wasn’t so satisfying.

Offensive moves can be strung together into a combo, or the more creative player can relish the opportunities for environment-based kills. One resilient foe met his end getting his skull rammed into a television, succeeding in bringing out a disturbing smile.

His grittily realistic world plays host to a number of contrastingly surreal events. Are they real? You will have to play to find out, but Ethan’s adventure will be an interesting trip either way.

The game’s audio is particularly impressive. Every crunch, smash, and snap of combat suggests the researchers may have spent an hours working in a torture chamber. Putting on headphones and sitting in the dark reveals the effort of the developer’s in crafting an unnerving atmosphere.

One of Sega’s employees played out an investigation in front of us: a diversion where normal players are asked to make assumptions in answer to questions, with these responses being based on what they see in their environment. How did he die? The bullet hole in his back might be a clue.

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We also sampled a multiplayer deathmatch, which proved to be frantic fun – although opponents didn’t clearly react to our attacks, leaving players wondering if they had actually made contact.

Our brief taste can’t hope to represent the finished mode, however, and the true test of its value will only be evident when the game is reviewed later.

What was clear from our test is that Condemned 2 is a relentless experience breaking out very soon, and when it does it just may be a horror worth surviving.