CONDEMNED 2: BLOODSHOT
(Sega; Xbox 360 and PS3; Mature 17+)
In the original Condemned, FBI forensic investigator Ethan Thomas had to battle murderous freaks even while looking for evidence that could explain what was driving them, well, murderous. But while this unflinching first-person puncher played like Halo — if Master Chief was armed with pipes and two-by-four — what made it more than just Punch-Out!! with a story was its eerie atmosphere: a combination of unnervingly realistic sound effects, spooky lighting (or lack thereof), and squalid settings that might have come out of Se7en.
Fortunately, Bloodshot keeps the creepiness-index high, while offering some welcome new ingredients. The adding of combos to the already sturdy combat system makes the resulting mayhem less about blindly mashing buttons, and more about strategically pressing them at the right time. And evidence-gathering is worked into the story line, and not just Thomas’ way of finding the next fight. The game also now boasts online brawling, available in ?Deathmatch,? ?Team Deathmatch,? or the ?Kill The Guy With The Ball?-esque ?Bum Rush.? None of which makes this better than the original (or worse, for that matter), but if you enjoyed that game’s disturbing vibe, Bloodshot will make you feel warm all over. B+ — Paul Semel
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