Back To Black

Originally Published: 4 April 2008

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Condemned is back for more hobo-bashing fun.

The original Condemned was one of my favourite launch titles. Not only did it come out a whole week before the Xbox 360 console, but it also scared the bejesus out of me for the first time since the dogs-through-the-windows section of Resident Evil.

Now Condemned 2 is unleashed upon the masses, and I spent last night waving prosthetic limbs around with such enthusiasm that Heather Mills-McCartney is scrabbling to put a padlock on her leg cupboard.

There’s just one teeny-tiny problem with Condemned 2. A problem it shared with it’s prequel. The timing is off!

Condemned arrived a whole week early. All I could do was look at the box, read the instructions and spin the disc round on my finger for seven long days. Then the 360 arrived, and smacking bums with shovels became a gaming joy (as opposed to something which would get me thrown off a building site). All was well with the world. The game cried out to be played in the dark, and a November release ensured that it was pretty much dark all the time!

Spin forward a couple of years. Condemned 2 cries out to be played in the dark. Everyone knows that – play it in the dark, with surround sound or a pair of decent headphones, and prepare to soil yourself. To add extra thrills, play it as above but add in a cat who creeps into the room you’re playing in and bites you on the leg. Anyway, the game needs the dark. It’s so obviously geared to playing in the dark that the options settings explain how to get the best picture in daylight and at night.

So here’s the thing, is the week after the clocks went forward to give us more hours of daylight in the evening really the best time to release a game designed to be played at night? Unless you’re blessed with curtains that block out so much light that they’d make an ARP Warden come over all unnecessary, you’re really having to wait until after 9pm to get the most atmospheric experience out of this game.

The down-side of this is two-fold:-

1) You’re playing a lot closer to bed-time, leading to an increased chance of nightmares
2) You mention this to the non-gaming girlfriend who than claims the daylight hours for herself to play Jewel Quest right through to the end – clearly not understanding that there is many a game that can be played while the sun is in the sky!

Timing really is everything.