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

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on October 23rd, 2011

    (out of 5)

    When these 31 Nights of Terror started, I was pretty much set on spending time with both Condemned: Criminal Origins and the sequel Condemned 2: Bloodshot. As I got farther into researching the first adventure, I realized I rather keep on writing with the same material. There was certainly more story to tell and furthermore I liked what I was writing. Hopefully, you as the audience enjoyed it too. So here we go with the second part. Ethan’s story has only begun.

    Before I go ahead and continue with Part two, I do want to spend a few words on what I did with Part One. If you have not read it, please step back for a second and go back to Part One. Most will notice that for the most part, I followed the dialog word for word. However, I removed one character entirely. Lieutenant Rosa. Or as I like to call her, the cell phone character. Throughout the game, she analyzes crime scene data and gives Ethan all sorts of information. She was very much the epitome of a character created for a game. In a book or movie context, her role would be significantly reduced or perhaps even eliminated.

    So far, I have eliminated her. Furthermore, she makes Ethan look like he is a bumbling idiot. If I don’t start with a strong lead, then the story never gets to have the classic fall and redemption. Also, while I would like to follow the game somewhat closely, I don’t want to be afraid to step out of the comfort zone. Much like the Resident Evil movies, I might start with the classic video game. Little by little, I make it its own entity. Obviously, if this thing gains enough steam, I might actually complete it. Sure, I could never do anything with it (because of rights and all of those wonderful things) but I could say I really finished my first work.

    Anyway, on to…

    Condemned: Criminal Origins Part Two
    Ethan cautiously moves up the stairs. It twists from right to left as he slowly approaches the top. The walls are relatively clean with a thin layer of dust on the handrails. There is evidence of use but also of age. The brick is heavily chipped and the agent wonders if it is possible to feel the pain that have lived through these rooms. Chances are they might have been there for nights and weeks before they found new shelter or their end. As evidenced by the unlucky body that he left on the bottom floor, there were still people in this building. Waiting, plotting for this agent to slip up.

    The floor opened up just as the last one had ended. There are more office objects and bland white walls sprinkled with graffiti. But this floor also had moments where the spaces looked unfinished or were perhaps in the middle of remodeling that never got quite completed. Ethan moves through a couple of rooms before going through another door with the number, 236 indicating an office. This room looks to have more use with a couple of shelves. The left shelf sits in the back, filled with empty boxes ravaged from years of homeless going through them. Even the paper in these containers were used for warmth. In a decade, even the boxes probably wouldn’t be here.

    But there was something different in this room besides empty boxes. On the back of the wall was a ton of eyes. Each eye is drawn with what looks to be a black felt tip marker. A rough oval was drawn to resemble the structure and typically the actual eye was drawn in the top half of the design. A few of the eyes were messier and indicated that perhaps the artist was heavily agitated. However, the most interesting thing about these eyes was not the sheer volume of them. Actually, it was not even the eyes at all. In the center of eyes lay a rectangular piece of metal. It is affixed to the wall by a single nail. Ethan takes it off to study the sheet. On the sheet, there looks to be numbers and rough markings indicating use as it be a marker of some sort. The agent takes the piece of metal and places it in his back pocket. Perhaps once he got out of this building, he can be able to guess where it came from and if it had any connection to the murders.

    The agent leaves the room and continues to search through the floor for the power grid. It was easy to get lost here with each pair of walls and corridors looking the same as last. In fact, if it was not for the eyes, Ethan would have assumed he was lost and simply tried to find a window rather than the power grid. It was only a matter of time before something else found him and this time he would not be able to react as quick. But he knew the criminal was coming.

    As he turns another corner, a box suddenly falls off the shelf and tumbles onto the floor. Ethan quickly slows and creeps towards the end of the hallway. As he gets closer to the end, sunlight begins to creep in from the windows. Was it morning already? Had the agent been there already three or four hours? He shrugs it off and continues to walk slowly into the light. Ethan, now bathed in sunlight finally turns the corner to see another thug hiding behind a pillar. The only reason the agent can see the criminal is that he blatantly trips and then puts himself back behind the column. However, the agent does not take the situation for granted. Patiently he waits, allowing the criminal to expose himself again.

    Like clockwork, the criminal comes out with a size-able two by four. The thug’s large face only to be made smaller by his gargantuan gut. As the thug raises the piece of wood, Ethan fires off a shot from his .45, piercing the thug’s chest before splitting out the other side. Except, the thug keeps coming and the two by four lands inches from Ethan’s face and slides down to graze his shoulder. Instinctively, the agent steps back and then pops two shots slicing through the victim’s gut. The giant man slows considerably but continues to lock on Ethan. He raises the stick again to strike him in the face but finds nothing but air as he smashes the wood into the pillar causing it to lodge. The agent recovers from his sidestep and walks right up to the man before depositing one last bullet to the side of his head. The criminal slumps down into his own pool of blood still holding the stick for a brief moment. The hand finally slides down as the last moments of breath escape his lips.

    Despite the man’s girth, four bullets were way too many to stop this thug, Ethan thought. He simply could not explain how the man could keep coming like that. The agent could not explain anything at all that occurred in the fight. Ethan did not usually make a mistake, but he nearly made one there. What’s worse is that now he had only three bullets and Ethan hadn’t even found the fuse box yet. After making a tourniquet for his shoulder wound, he resumed his search. The agent keeps walking and soon reaches another barely covered door. He touches the knob and his mind starts to spin.

    In the shadowed perceptive mind of Ethan Thomas, he can see a figure encased in black. There are no distinctive features about the man except that he is smoking a cigarette as leans over a fuse box. He leans over the box and starts to play with the controls. Satisfied with his work, the figure moves away and suddenly Ethan’s world comes back. He looks down at the knob and slowly removes his hand. The agent takes a few steps back and barrels into the door. The door budges easily and he literally jumps into the room. He quickly surveys the surroundings to only see nothing but the still air and same hallowed walls that he had encountered frequently so far.

    The room however is much larger than the ones Ethan has encountered. There are several parts to the room and along to the the back of the first section he can see two generators, devoid of sound. However, once the agent moves closer he can tell that he made it to the right room. The room splits off to the left and Ethan moves quickly towards the back. No bodies. But at the end of this corridor, he finally finds the fusebox. Excited, the agent takes a hold of the main lever and pulls forward. Unfortunately, he never bothered to see the still lit cigarette resting along the bottom of the box.

    Ethan’s gun hand bolts back and his body falls back as his crumpled body hits the floor. His world going to gray but he still breathes, instinctively reaching for his gun. However, it has slid across the tile during the shock and hits the feet of a man standing in the hallway. The man pauses to look at his feet and bends down to take the weapon. He points it at Ethan who can only look at the figure. The man laughs. “Bang bang”, he mocks. He runs off with the gun takes off down the hall.

    The agent is unable to move for many minutes. The shock was not intended to kill but it certainly rendered him helpless. Finally, Ethan is able to move as he comes to a sitting position. This time, he has made a mistake and what’s worse is that there is some criminal with his gun in this very building. The thug played with him and he nearly paid the price. The agent also wonders if that was the killer, perhaps even the Match Maker himself. After a few more moments and adrenaline kicking in, he gets up and continues back the way he came. He tracks the criminal and eventually comes to a desk blocking his way. The agent slowly moves the table and places it against the near wall. Along this wall, he can see a piece of pipe jutting out and loosened from years of little use. Ethan decides to grab it, it is not like he has much other choice.

    The environment has not changed except for mild patches of sunlight peeking through the broken boards that have long sealed this place from the outside. Ethan is weary, still recovering from the shock that happened at the fuse box. His hands are numb at the touch and his senses dulled as he turns a couple of corners. That is probably why he was slow to react when a piece of wall comes flying out right in front of him. A man, perhaps in his early twenties and well built comes out of the opening in the wall from the next room. Behind him is another man, smaller in statue and stockier. However, this man is obviously not as nimble as his friend and he finds it difficult to make it out of the somewhat disjointed hole. As the stockier assailant tries to find his footing, his friend comes right at Ethan with another two by four.

    Ethan is barely able to get his now heavy arms in position to block the oncoming strike. It weakly deflects off and the agent takes the brunt of the force pushing him back. Stunned and shaken, he raises the pipe and tries to deliver a shot of his own. The well built man pushes it aside with his free hand and uses that second to land a swipe onto Ethan’s weapon hand. He falls to the floor, covering himself with the pipe still found firmly in his hand. But now, the stockier man finds his way out of the wall and decides to join in on the fun.

    The first criminal continues to poke at the agent. However, the strikes do not have precision and are merely an attempt to weaken his prey. The second criminal pushes aside the first and lays a strong strike, one that Ethan is barely able to deflect. The well built man falls on the floor temporarily and quickly gets up only to repeat the same gesture to his friend by pushing him down before weakly trying to strike the agent. Ethan is barely able to keep his pipe hand up despite the weak ravenous strikes. The stockier man, now frustrated slams his own pipe into the back of the first assailant. Brutalized, he goes down. However, the agent is able to use this to advantage and as the stockier man turns around, Ethan uses his strength to rise up and block the next attack. Simultaneously, he is able to trap the second pipe and disarm the thug. The next strike from the agent is slammed against the second thug’s head and he drops down in a heap.

    Ethan runs over to the first criminal and steps on the two by four slowly being raised. With a painful grunt, the thug drops the weapon and looks up into the agent’s eyes. The thug looks up with almost remorse in his eyes and then Ethan drives his pipe down on the thug’s head, killing him on impact. The agent throws down the weapon in disgust. He hardly ever had to kill a perpetrator, this night he had to kill four. Worse yet, he had to kill with his bare hands. Sure, he had a pipe, but that hardly counted. In the matter of hours that he had been at 4th Ave and Stark, he was no better than the two bodies that lay at his feet.

    The agent had to push on. It was likely that the killer of the Jane Doe was still here within these walls. Even if it was just some crazed criminal, he had to make sure that this place was throughly searched. But Ethan was out of breath, he needed something. Heck, he needed a drink. Ethan shook his head for a moment and continued to walk along the corridor. There did not appear to be anymore criminals here for the moment but that did not stop him from thinking there were. A couple of times, the agent swings at mid air, mistakingly the sunlight for another enemy.

    After several minutes, Ethan regained most of his strength. He needed a place where he could rest, most of all he needed sleep and medical attention. The rooms were not changing either, except now some of the doors seemed to be locked and forced closed. The agent was not sure what to do. He slumped down in the corner of one of these rooms for a minute and looked towards the window. “What exactly have I gotten myself into?”, Ethan thought. Perhaps he spoke it out too. “I can still smell the decaying flesh of the death here.”, he continued. “Wait…”

    Ethan reaches for his special UV light he used earlier and fumbles with the settings. Somehow, this sucker still works. He switches it to function as a gas spectrometer. The gas here was the source of the decaying odor. After just a couple of minutes and twenty or thirty feet away, he found the source of the odor. A dieing bird. It looked to be a sparrow, perhaps no more than a baby. However, it wasn’t just dieing, it looked like the feathers had been torn apart. It was foul, made more so by the obvious torture. Ethan takes a piece of nearby wood to prod it and all of the sudden the bird sits up and flys up towards the agent. The agent shields his hands to cover up and then looks down. The bird is gone.

    The agent soon finds the stairs to the third level of the building. “Perhaps we can finally get to the end of this”, Ethan thought. The third level was unfortunately no different than the last two floors. Except the walls looked even more abused and torn up. Paint cans were strung about, still around from when the typewriter company wanted to expand. Then the personal computer was invented. That expansion never happened. Ethan comes to a room that rests along several windows that lead to the outside. However, one of the windows is different as it is connected to the other building across the way via a rusty gangway. Well, maybe it used to be a good bridge to connect the buildings in the event of an emergency but now it looks like it could barely hold another person. Especially if that person is Detective Dickinson.

    “Thomas! Thomas! What’s happened?”, Dickinson exclaims, trying to balance himself on the bridge.

    “What the heck are you doing on there?”, Ethan shouts.

    “We heard an explosion.”, Dickinson finding his balance for the moment stands up, still slightly crouched.

    “Yeah yeah, I’m fine. Fusebox shorted.”, Ethan remarks. “I seem to be trapped over here and I believe the suspect has my gun.”

    “What!?!, How the hell did that happen?”, Dickinson shakes his head. He then looks over to Becker who is just behind him but not on the bridge. Becker hands the detective something large. Dickinson grabs it and makes a couple of steps closer to Ethan on the bridge. Ethan is able to move his hand close enough to receive a large fire axe.
    “Here. Take this fire axe and chop your way out.”

    “Thanks.”, Ethan mumbles.

    “Yeah you need some serious help.” “Here, you can also have this.” the Detective again reaches out towards Ethan and places a taser in the agent’s hands. Dickinson takes another step, but the bridge does not look to hold the cop much longer. “Becker and I’ll go ’round the other way. Try and stay in one piece.” The detective crosses back to the other building and he is gone.

    With that, the agent is again alone. He is no stranger to tasers, but the suckers were often slow to act and a pain to recharge. It was hardly a reliable weapon. But the axe and the taser were all he had at the moment. Unless he wanted to grab another pipe from the wall. The agent continues his walk through the third floor, this time towards one of those locked solid doors. Ethan rears back with his axe and swings not once, not twice but three times before it gives way. The axe swings cleanly and barely shudders from his swings. As soon as he gets through the door, an office chair flies in his general direction.

    Ethan is just able to duck as the piece of furniture crashes against the wall harmlessly. The agent whips out his newly found taser and aims it at the oncoming thug who is coming at him with a beer bottle. The taser releases and the becomes attached to the criminal’s body, shocking him. He goes down, still twitching. The agent pauses to look over him, this criminal was not hopped up on drugs like the rest. He was just plain drunk. In the corner, he can see a couple of unopened bottles. He grabs one and pops the top. Stale beer flows down the agent’s throat. He spits it back out almost instantly. Ethan takes a few more sips before tossing it aside. At least he had refreshment.

    This floor was smaller than the rest of them and rather than many individual office type rooms, it settled for a few large areas. In one of these large areas, Ethan finds another column but this one is similar to the wall he saw before and is full of eyes…with another metal piece. Ethan takes out of his back pocket the other metal piece and studies them. “They seem to be sequentially ordered, this piece is just a few off from the other.”, Ethan remarks. The agent is studying so intently and with his senses still blurred, he does not see the door to his right slowly open just a bit. After a few more minutes, Ethan picks up the piece and puts it also in his back pocket. He then looks around him and sees the right doorway a bit ajar.

    Ethan walks closer and closer towards the opening and steps inside. This is one of the rooms where the sunlight breaks in through the windows. “Time really stops here, doesn’t it?”, Ethan thought. He pauses to look through the window and that’s when he feels someone approaching. Ethan valiantly turns around but a gun swipe goes across his face. He looks into the face of a man in an orange jumpsuit, possibly in his forties with light brown hair and hardened eyes. The man in the jumpsuit grabs him, punches him once for good measure and holds Ethan who looks up at him with pain in his eyes.

    “How does it feel to be on this end of the gun?”, the hardened criminal aims the nuzzle of gun towards Ethan who is barely able to function at this point. “But listen you bastard, don’t mess this up for us. We are both on the same path of righteousness.” The man in the jumpsuit again punches Ethan in the gut with his own .45 revolver rendering Ethan to cough once more.

    “THOMAS!”, the voice of Detective Dickinson rings out, but Ethan is unable to answer.

    The man in the jumpsuit weakly smiles at the agent, “And the path takes strange turns.”

    Detective Dickinson and Office Becker bust through the door with guns drawn as the situation presents unfolds at their eyes.

    “Freeze, police! Drop the weapon now!”

    Dickinson does not get to say anything further as the hardened criminal quickly turns around and shoots the detective in his face instantly flooring him. Becker, the father of two quickly tries to strike a defensive position but it makes no difference as he also meets his demise when another shot from the weapon meets the officer’s heart killing him.

    Satisfied, the man in the jumpsuit looks one last time into Ethan’s eyes who is still groggy and consumed with fear. “Be ready for death, Agent Thomas. It shall come visiting again.” With that, he knees the agent in the gut and throws his through the nearby window. Ethan sprawls out into dawn, falling two floors and laying on his back into a dumpster with the garbage slightly cushioning his fall. As he lays looking up at the sky as the hardened criminal gets away, Ethan can’t help to think how he let all of this just slip away.

    To be continued…(maybe :))

    Posted In: 1 player, Average Difficulty, First Person Shooter, Game Reviews, Monolith Soft, Sega, Xbox 360

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