You know those warnings in the front of a games manual? The one that says take a break every so often but you never pay attention to? Well don’t worry, Condemned makes you want to take a break every 15 minutes. We’re not lying, it’s not often that you’ll find the Totally360 staff walking away from a game, especially one as good as Condemned. The crushing atmosphere, combined with the visceral attack on the senses combine to create one hell of a scary game; even with the lights on. Monolith has managed to create a game that blends genres, impresses graphically, and fills you with fear of what’s round the next corner. Condemned sees you take the role of FBI investigator Ethan Thomas as you chase down a serial killer with a fetish for mannequins and grisly deaths, all the time trying to clear your name. Following clues, searching deep, dank and dangerous surroundings, all the while fighting for survival with whatever you can get your hands on. Within the first 5 minutes of you turning on the game you’ll realise what we mean. Let’s just say, the game isn’t rated an 18 for advertising purposes. And survival is something that is hard to come by, especially on the higher difficulty levels. Other than the various ‘weapons’ you’ll find lying around, you’ll be armed with nothing more than a taser, your mobile phone, various forensic tools, and your wits; and that slightly dodgy flashlight. One of the first things you’ll notice is that the game takes place from a first person perspective. However, don’t think that Condemned is a Serious Sam type shoot-em; if anything, Condemned is better described as a first person shit-em-up. From the off, your confronted with a claustrophobic atmosphere, something the perspective enhances much to your discomfort. Add to that the often pitch black environment, and a solitary flashlight and you have the perfect ingredients for an uncomfortable gaming session. As I said, this game is much more of a shit-em-up than a shoot-em-up, and this is reflected in the choice of weapons. You’ll often find yourself lumbering along trying to find the best weapon; occasionally even refusing to pick up a gun because of the extremely limited ammo supply. Some other survival horror games such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill claim to have limited amounts of ammo; Condemned takes it to the extreme. Before ‘Chronicles of Riddick’ the idea of a first person game without guns was scorned upon by gamers; Condemned just goes to show how wrong everyone was. The sense of depth and distance is good enough to judge a decent crack around the head. That sense becomes extremely important later on when the body count begins to rise, and the fighting becomes tactical. And tactical is the right word to use, as at times the AI can do some astounding things. The first time you walk into a fight with a defenceless man, only to see him run, jump and rip the SUBWAY sign off the roof and then proceed to attack you, your jaw will drop. The slow pace of Condemned is a refreshing change of pace compared to the rest of the launch line up; Condemned does occasionally sufferer from repetitive gameplay. Also, because of the sheer levels of darkness, it can be difficult to work out what you need to do next to progress. On the Xbox Live side of things, finding dead birds and shards of metal all add to your Xbox Live gamer score but aside from that, any online elements are minimal. However, despite its few faults, it would be incredibly difficult not to recommend Condemned, especially as a refreshing change to the fast pace found in the other launch titles. Score: 8/10 GLG Honestly, this game is a piece of shit. Shitty graphics, shitty gameplay, shitty idea and totally overrated!