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  • “31 Nights of Terror” A Scary Dose of Fiction – Condemned: Criminal Origins (Xbox 360)

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on October 17th, 2011

    (out of 5)

    Perhaps it is a cliché for a lot of review writers on here to aspire to be “published writers”. To go beyond the webpages that we put out two and three times a week (and in case of some hard working site owners and webmasters, two to three times daily) and produce a physical, published book. For many of us, it is a dream that we wish we could make a reality. Personally, I have had that dream for over twenty years and after hardships, setbacks and general depression, I find myself in a place where I finally feel I can write. Hopefully in these pages, we can consider this another step towards that fulfillment.

    Let me step back and briefly describe what the next three thousand words are going to be like before I plunge in. This is my attempt to put a video game in print. I am describing the situations and bringing words to life about feelings and thoughts from the playing the video game on the screen. I assure you that there is no plagiarizing here except pieces of dialogue that flow from the game itself. To be honest, this is a piece of fan fiction about a game that is incredibly rich with story and intrigue.

    My job is merely to be a muse and bring this to life. Most people have forgotten about this game and it has been replaced by quite a few flashy first person shooters since then. I hope that a few people go back and re-discover this game again. Or perhaps even loan out their copy to a friend who wants to borrow Call of Duty and end up giving them this one instead. Anyway, without further adieu, enjoy. Please leave any comments you would like at the bottom of this post. If this goes well enough, maybe we will even get a Part 2.

    One last thing, all rights, names, and that other legal mumbo jumbo belong to Sega and Monolith Productions. Without them, none of this here would exist. For that, I thank them.

    Condemned: Criminal Origins

    Ever since Agent Ethan Thomas was a little boy, he had wanted to be a FBI Agent. In many ways, his first day at the office was the first time he actually felt at home. The neatly pressed suit, the long hours, the epitaph of rules and regulations was second nature to Ethan. He had always lived a life of straight and narrow. But with the agent way, it not only seemed like the best idea but the only way to live. Ethan never took drugs or desired a smoke. He rarely participated in alcohol partly because he was always on duty and partly because his father still lived with the addiction day and night. His mother had died a long time ago and he could never go a day without missing her gentle touch. The problem was every time he would think of her sweet caress, he would see her crumbled heap at the foot of the stairs. Father still would not admit it after all of these years, not that he cared anymore.

    Agent Ethan Thomas was a standout, his rare blend of style and keen perception paved the way to conquering everything from a serial killer on the top ten list of criminals to a cold case that had not seen the light of day in twenty years. To most detectives, the first forty eight hours were the most important, plenty of cases for Ethan never made it that long. It was rare for him to get bogged down with a criminal of any size despite what the rap sheet told them. Ethan could not be touched but sometimes not failing at a task is perhaps the biggest downfall of them all. Humility is worse than any beating a man suffers, especially at the hands of himself.

    Ethan drives up to the Weisman Office Building at 4th Avenue and Stark Place. The office building was once home to a typewriter company but that company never grew with the times. Once computers and fancy technology hit, the company hit dust and the office building went along with it. Now, the only thing the walls held was criminals and the only use a typewriter would get would be against another criminal’s face. Police frequently had to patrol the vacant building since they were called up here a couple of times a week. Sometimes it was nothing, but more often than not it was a grizzly scene.

    Ethan had been stationed in this region for a while, the upper northeast. It was far away from where he grew up and the agent liked it that way. In the last couple of years, he was placed on the SCU, the Serial Crime Unit. As much as the whole Bureau was home to him, the serial crime unit was a place for investigators to escape from normal life and live a relatively solitary existence. They lived from murder to murder all the while searching for that one clue. That one clue would allow the break and they would finally then capture the killer. But many times, that killer would take more than a few victims, they would take a piece of the investigator with them.

    The police tape was already there in front of a small doorway. It looked like the door had been ripped off but more than likely had just fallen apart from years of neglect and misuse. A chain-link fence could be found to the left of the door which was mostly a vain attempt to keep out miscreants and vagrants.

    The ’96 Buick glides to a stop and Ethan stares at the lights gently looming over the doorway. He can see every piece of nearby graffiti, a reminder of how important light is to a police man.

    A bang suddenly raps against his windshield. Ethan startled, looks towards the driver side window to see Detective Dickinson with his flashlight tapping on the glass.

    Detective Dickinson had been in the force roughly twenty years. Dickinson was pushing his mid forties between his graying hair and slightly pudgy form. He was not a typical cop as he usually stayed away from the donuts but had a vice for stale coffee and decade old whiskey. Perhaps the glazed donuts would have made for a better disposition.

    “Thomas, I don’t got all day here. Let’s get a move on.”

    Dickinson flashes the light directly into the car, Ethan instinctively covers his eyes while slowly coming off the shock. The Detective soon steps away from the car and starts walking back to the police tape-covered entrance way. Ethan pauses to get his own flashlight before stepping out of the car and slamming the door back in place. Before he can say a word, Dickinson resumes talking.

    “People are scared. We need to get this one. Follow me, body’s this way.”

    Dickinson steps again and proceeds to the entrance, sliding his body underneath the yellow tape while mumbling something about his age. Ethan follows, pausing briefly to look through the chain link fence before crouching and coming back out to the sight of Dickinson’s flashlight in front of him.

    “Come on, let’s go. Body’s rottin’ as we speak”.

    Again, Ethan started to speak but decided to listen instead. They continue down a couple of steps and move along the hallway.

    “The patrolman on duty said there was a mannequin involved…Just like the Match Maker.”

    The Match Maker who had murdered six young women so far was running up and down the northeast coast in the last year. He would kill these young women and then pose their deceased forms together with a male mannequin. The mannequin would also be disfigured in some way, often with a small mark on their face. Clearly a poster boy for bad relations with the opposite sex.

    “Whole damn city’s crawlin’ with sick killers. God, and why do they always have to kill in such maggot-infested dumps? Why can’t they pick a nice spot without addicts and gang members for once? …And some place not so damn dark.”

    Ethan tries to bring up a vague analogy involving bugs and killers but thinks better of it. The two come to the end of a hallway and he can see chalk marked off as if it had been the days stayed in a prison. It certainly felt like one here. Seven, eleven is marked on the walls, but Ethan is not sure exactly what that means or if it is even related to the crime here.

    “JESUS H! Nearly shot the bastard”, Dickinson exclaimed. A large rat stops and scuttles across the floor and goes back into another wall. “Come on, this place is creeping me out”, the detective continues, “Nothing’s down there. It’s this way”. The two soon find themselves in front of a door and a stairway leading up. Detective Dickinson leads his way up and Ethan again stops for a second when he feels a breeze to the right of them. Ethan looks in the direction but sees nothing except a metal shelf and a long stretch of darkness. He decides to start upstairs as well.

    The agent and the detective make their way up one set of stairs and then curve around for a few more steps. Dickinson’s flashlight goes out. He fiddles with it briefly before grunting, “Your stupid car broke my light. Better turns yours on; I hear you’re afraid of the dark.” Ethan switches on his flashlight and stares into the darkness. There is not much here except for office space and a few vacant rooms with desks still inside.

    A radio is heard, “One fourteen, One fourteen. Report in. Have the Feds arrived?”

    “Becker here. FBI on the scene. Over and out.”

    “Copy that. ” Ethan looks into the face of Officer Becker. Becker, about six foot three and weighing well over 200 pounds is standing next to Dickinson and is not new to the crime force. He likes the night shift, fishing and his two kids. He figures that if he fights the criminals at night while his kids are asleep, he can safely pretend to be flattered when his children call him a superhero in the day.

    “Agent Thomas, this is Officer Becker. Becker found the body on patrol.” Becker looks at Ethan briefly acknowledging his presence before moving inside the room. The room opens out to two sections with another large metal shelf on the left separating out a large part. Detective Dickinson moves around the small corridor to the right and Ethan follows. The room fleshes out into a scene straight out of a David Fincher thriller.

    In the middle of the room, there is a small dining table with a white tablecloth and two plates positioned correctly. Two goblets accompany the china with a small black bucket that might have been used for champagne earlier that evening. A male mannequin dressed professionally in a dark blue suit jacket and white shirt is sitting in front of Ethan with his right hand outstretched towards the middle of the table. On the edges of the room, there are five disfigured mannequins of shorter stature probably used to resemble boys or girls. Their face is removed and there is nothing to stare into except a pit of darkness in each one. The agent soon moves around the table to examine more closely the corpse which is sprawled out fallen on the other side.

    As Dickinson mumbles, “Sheez, sick bastard.”, Ethan gets into position to examine the body. The woman, probably in early twenties is wearing a long flowing orange dress with her hands stretched out perhaps bracing herself for a fall. The chair is still beside her and we can see that the woman’s midriff is exposed and she does not appear to be wearing any shoes. But the most stunning feature of this Jane Doe is that from her chest to around her neck and all the way up to her mouth she is in shackles. There was some sick game here and the victim was just a pawn. The lighting is already dim in the room and Ethan pulls out a small UV light and shines it down on the woman’s neck.

    Ethan studies the patterns and finally starts to speak for the first time as he kneels closer to the woman.

    “There is bruising here and it seems to indicate strangulation. Considerable force looks like it was applied as evidenced by the abundance of exposed vessels in her neck. There is more, the angle at which the strangulation occurred also indicates that the killer was right handed…and more importantly with only four lines of indentation, missing an index finger. Ethan stands up before continuing, “But wait, there is something more here. I can feel it.”

    All of the sudden the room goes black and spins around Ethan. Suddenly, he can see a man covered completely in a black robe hovering over a table. In his delicate hands, he holds a mannequin head. Showing careful craftmanship, the agent can see the killer treat the head as a work of art as he makes a precise mark on the cheek. The murderer raises the head up to indicate success as the darkness becomes light again. Ethan’s sight returns and he sees Detective Dickinson looking curiously at him.

    Ethan says nothing and moves back to the mannequin. He switches the UV Light to a laser setting and shines it directly at the approximate jaw line of the mannequin. Dickinson motions to Becker to darken the lights in the room so that Ethan can see more clearly.

    “There, along the jawline is the same mark we have been seeing for months. The same MO, the same bloody work of the guy we are calling the Match Maker. He kills young women violently, poses them with these mannequins that have some slight disfigurement on their face. But unfortunately nothing comes up in the mug book searches.”

    Dickinson listens and looks up, “Becker! No smoking at a crime scene!”, the detective angrily shouts. Becker looks at the detective oddly and replies back, “I don’t smoke.”. “Well someone was.” Again, Dickinson pauses and walks toward a closed door. All of the sudden he rears back and kicks it wide open. “It’s coming from in here.” It opens up to another vacant room with several stairs leading up to a barren doorway. Ethan follows closely as Dickinson walks in expecting to find trouble. Dickinson exclaims, “Damn it, I can smell the cigarette smoke.”

    The detective and Ethan stand in a room before several windows which look out to see another building. In the room, there are two desks pushed together either to make more space or perhaps just to tidy up what’s left. It is dimly lit with fluorescent lighting and the bulb crackles softly. As soon as Ethan turns to notice the sound above, the light goes off leaving the agent and the detective in darkness. It flickers briefly and Dickinson pauses to look to one of the open windows. Cigarette smoke.

    “He’s right above us.”, Dickinson realizes as Becker runs into the room. “Call for backup, now!”

    Becker grabs his radio and speaks quickly into the receiver, “This is Officer Becker, we need backup immediately, 4th and Stark. Potential homicide suspect still in building.” The radio fires back, “Officers are on the way. ETA Ten minutes.” “Copy that”, Becker fires back before looking at the detective. Ethan takes out his custom .45 revolver from his holster, a present from his ex-wife Lucy, who never quite got the job and moved out two years ago this past February. Ethan never seemed to miss a beat.

    Dickinson looks over to Ethan and speaks, “Becker and I will head up the fire escape, you wait here for the backup.” Suddenly, the lights flicker again, off and on, on and off for what seemed like minutes. Finally, they stay off. “Okay, now he’s playin’ with us. Change of plans. Becker, secure that door. Thomas, check out the building and get these lights back on.” Ethan nods his head with his gun raised and follows Becker to a closed door. The father of two buries his shoulder into the door budging it slightly. A stronger shoulder comes this time as the door busts open into darkness. He does a quick surveillance, checking the vicinity for any sign of the killer. “All clear Agent”, as Becker heads back to follow Dickinson who has now started to move outside the window to the fire escape.

    “Sooner we finish up here, the better. Let’s go.”, Dickinson now outside the window on the fire escape looks back to Ethan, “Oh and for Christ’s sake, be careful.” With that, Dickinson and officer Becker disappear onto the fire escape and Ethan Thomas is left alone in the desolate room. A few minutes pass as the agent slowly steps towards the opening of the archway with his flashlight shining into the next office space. There is danger here to be sure and there is more here than just a criminal who loves playing games with his victims. The homeless, criminals perhaps all flocked to this building in search of shelter. Many of them were also on some kind of new drug, which made the addicts psychotic, violent and unpredictable.

    A human shaped shadow suddenly flashes across the darkened landscape and soon disappears to the right of the agent’s view. “What the heck was that?”, Ethan thought to himself.

    Ethan takes another couple of steps.

    “Hey pig, I know you are down here.”, the voice carrying from where the shadow disappeared along the wall.

    “Federal Agent. Come out peacefully or I will use force!” Ethan commands, his body shaking slightly but giving off no less confidence.

    “F—k You.”

    Ethan slowly moves forward when all of the sudden from the right room, a man in a black leather jacket runs out, two by four in hand. Just as the criminal starts to swing, Ethan slams the barrel in the man’s face and pulls the trigger. The man falls back as quickly as he came onto the floor dead. Blood drains out as Ethan kicks the body once more for good measure. He kneels down to inspect the fallen criminal. In addition to the black leather jacket, the assailant wore jeans and for some reason his face had a matching black ski mask on with a pair of goggles. Ethan removes the ski mask from the criminal’s face and studies the body for a few minutes. He quietly whispers, “This was not the murderer, I can feel it.” Regardless whether this criminal was just another one of the homeless amped up on hallucinogens or somebody with a grudge against cops, the danger was real.

    Ethan gets up and looks straight forward. Beyond the fallen body lay another wide open door with a pile of stairs leading to the next floor. There was more than addicts in this building, it was just the question of how much more than addicts there were. Ethan looked up into the stairwell and he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to find out.

    To be continued…

    Posted In: 1 player, Average Difficulty, Dolby Digital 5.1 (Game), First Person Shooter, Game Reviews, Monolith Soft, Random Fun, Sega, Xbox 360

    2 Responses to ““31 Nights of Terror” A Scary Dose of Fiction – Condemned: Criminal Origins (Xbox 360)”

    1. Sarah teh Noms Says:

      More please.

    2. Rex Says:

      No more please.

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