The History of Condemned (& Mystery of Condemned 3)

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The representation of horror in gaming wore many faces by the advent of the seventh console generation. Developers equipped with a knack for guiding players through terror-laden adventures had covered everything from zombie narratives and psychological horror to tales of suspense and the supernatural. For its Xbox 360 launch title, Monolith Productions endeavored to explore interactive horror from a different angle, a more brutal, in-your-face point of view teeming with themes about violence and the nuances of human nature. It accomplished as much with 2005’s Condemned: Criminal Origins, then pushed the envelope further upon delivering Condemned 2: Bloodshot in 2008.

Condemned’s claustrophobic setting and discomforting atmosphere were complimented by then-unparalleled hand-to-hand combat mechanics. And the decision to centralize an FBI agent following the trail of a serial murderer turned what could’ve been a typical first-person experience into a memorable psychological thriller. Thus, the first Condemned has long enjoyed the status of a revolutionary cult classic, yet many would argue its sequel faded into obscurity not long after hitting the market.

Why the second outing failed to garner the adoration afforded to its predecessor has puzzled series faithful for years. But there were some aspects of Condemned 2 that didn’t exactly gel with the path that some assumed the franchise would take. The tone changed, the protagonist—Ethan Thomas—evolved to a polarizing extent, and the mystery that had engulfed the original reached an equally polarizing resolution. While hopes of its potential return linger, Condemned constitutes one horror classic that may not get the opportunity to claw its way through the genre’s latest renaissance.

This is the history of Condemned.

Intro 0:00
Sponsorship 2:04
The History of Condemned 2:43

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