Video Game / Condemned: Criminal Origins
aka: Condemned

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cco113.jpg

Condemned: Criminal Origins (2005) and its sequel Condemned 2: Bloodshot (2008) are a two-part series of horror games by Monolith Productions. Their selling point is their vicious and brutal melee combat, which combines with (at times barely comprehensible) storytelling.

The game takes place in a fictional U.S. city. named "Metro City". Ethan Thomas, rising star in the FBI's Serial Crimes Unit gifted with incredible forensic instincts, is framed for murder when investigating a crime scene. The next morning, an enigmatic man claiming to be a friend of the family comes and warns Ethan to flee, before the police arrive. This prompts Ethan, at this man's urging, to begin searching for the serial killer that set him up. As the game progresses, a trail of dead birds and murderous hobos begin hinting that something is wrong in the city, more wrong than he might have ever hoped.

Criminal Origins has examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Getting all the collectibles slightly changes the ending to reveal that an ancient cult was behind everything. Ethan still appears to turn into a metal monster at the end, though.
  • Abandoned Area: Condemned is pretty much Abandoned Area: The Game. While the locations Ethan visits do have some human (and some not-so-human) inhabitants, they are devoid of any other people. Locations include a department store, school, Sinister Subway, apartment complex, and public library - all of them abandoned due to high crime rates or some other reason (the library caught fire at some point before the game takes place, and repairs never finished).
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • Averted. You would think a trained police officer would be a stronger asskicker than a jacked up homeless person, but they're on even level. Ethan does have much better stamina, but see Made of Iron as to why.
    • Played straight with the Dark Watchers; their leader takes a hellacious amount of punishment even when compared to the other Watchers.
  • An Axe to Grind: Not only are axes one of the best melee weapons, but they are required to break through certain doors.
  • Boring but Practical: The super taser. The regular taser does a little bit of damage, but still requires some skill to use. Stealing an enemy's weapon while they are stunned gives them a really powerful unarmed grapple move, and smacking them while they are stunned immediately gives them a hard-to-block weapon counterattack. The super taser however, does a ton of damage, knocks them to the floor, and makes them drop their weapon, opening them up for a free counterattack that, in almost all cases, will kill them even if it's just a kick to the shins. After getting the super taser, it's easy to go through most of the rest of the game that way and completely ignore the more intense melee combat.
  • Breakable Weapons: Using firearms as melee weapons will eventually cause them to break.
  • Chekhov's Gun: One is set up and the true payoff doesn't come until the finale of the second game. When Rosa and Ethan are examining his medical records in the library, Rosa points out that something in the neck area of Ethan's x-ray was redacted; indeed, the player can see a blacked out area on the film. It's eventually revealed that this is because Ethan has enhanced vocal chords and is capable of emitting damaging sound waves without any modification to his body.
  • Clear My Name: Ethan's goal is to prove that he didn't kill two police officers while hunting Serial Killer X.
  • Concept Art Gallery:
    • Unlocked bits at a time by picking up dead birds and pieces of metal. Yeah...it's that kind of game.
    • A few 50 point achievements can be earned by watching television, which involves walking up to a special TV and pressing the "A" button.
  • Cop Killer: The serial killer the player is following kills two cops at the start. This kicks off the plot of the rest of the game.
  • Crapsack World: You rarely visit anything apart from long-disused, run-down and mostly destroyed buildings. Almost everyone you encounter in them is deranged and murderous.
  • Crazy Homeless People: Whatever is causing birds to die also makes the homeless in Metro City act like homicidal maniacs. The sequel reveals this to be sonic disturbances of man-made origin.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: The level set in Bart's department store, which is decrepit and abandoned. From the décor and the faint ghostly music you can hear playing, the store closed down one Christmas. This is arguably one of the most atmospheric levels of the game largely due to the out-of-place Xmas setting.
    • Fridge Logic kicks in when the player recalls Rosa told Ethan that Bart's has been closed for 14 years. No one thought to turn off the power to the lights or PA system in that time? Let's chalk it up to Rule of Scary.
  • Driven to Suicide: The Torturer's method of "killing" is to drive his victims to suicide.
  • Drop the Hammer: The mighty (yet slow) sledgehammer is not just useful for breaking in skulls, but breaking through locked doors.
  • Enemy Civil War: Mooks fight each other so often that it's practically a gameplay strategy to stand back and wait a fight out.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Subverted. Serial Killer X turns out to be the nephew of Malcolm Vanhorn, who tries to help him snap out of his psychosis - but to no avail. It's a subversion because SKX doesn't give a fuck about Vanhorn; strangling him in Condemned and later killing and dissecting him in Bloodshot even after Vanhorn nursed him back to health when he took a gunshot to the face.
  • Expository Gameplay Limitation: Whenever Ethan receives a call on his cellphone the player is slowed down to a walk, cannot attack (as he is holding his phone in his hand) and Invisible Walls appear around Ethan, significantly limiting the player's progress. Normal gameplay resumes once the call is over.
  • Fingore: At the end of the game, you get to watch Serial Killer X cut off Ethan Thomas's left index finger.
  • Fingerprinting Air: The level of details you get from analyzing crime scenes with just your on-site equipment is improbable, so it's honestly a surprise that exactly one set of fingerprints per game is actually too smudged for his equipment to properly identify.
  • Fragile Speedster: The pale, skinny enemies you encounter in the subway tunnels move very quickly, but die in one hit from any weapon (including the tazer which can otherwise not actually kill someone by itself). They do get tougher in the latter part of the level, but not by much.
  • Giant Mook: The large men in firefighter coats and the giant burn victims wielding flaming 2x4s.
  • Hammerspace: Averted for the most part. In the first game Ethan is always seen carrying a large bag storing all of the forensic tools. Doesn't explain why he can't carry med-kits with him though.
  • Hate Plague: Implied to be the reason why everyone is trying to kill you. Eventually revealed to be the result of sonic disturbances created by an ancient cult.
  • Improvised Weapon: Very nearly all of them, from pipes to electrical conduits to locker doors. Firearms are the only things you find that are actually built to be weapons.
  • The Killer Becomes the Killed: Serial Killer X kidnaps serial killers and uses their own methods to kill them.
  • Made of Iron: Justified towards the end of the game, when you come across a classified medical report that shows Ethan having "abnormally high" muscle and bone density. Your enemies, meanwhile, presumably have adrenaline and the hideous strength of the insane going for them.
  • Meaningful Name: Criminal Origins, the subtitle of the game, is explained in the sequel as meaning that the Oro are indirectly behind most if not all of humanity's atrocities.
  • Monster Closet: Happens once, rather literally, in the subway level - the player opens a locker and gets jumped by a pale, emaciated woman wielding a rebar.
  • Morton's Fork: Combined with Last-Second Ending Choice, the game ends with SKX taking a bullet to the face in the trunk of Malcolm Vanhorn's car, either from Ethan's gun or from his own. The rest of the ending progresses the same way no matter which choice you made; the only other change is whether you collected all the birds and metal pieces or not. For what it matters, dialogue in Bloodshot reveals that Ethan shot Vanhorn.
  • Murderous Mannequin:
    • Subverted. Though several mannequins appear to follow you around in the department store level, even completely encircling you when you fall into a dark pit, they never actually attack you.
    • But there are a bunch of crazies impersonating mannequins in that level as well. They have a different, more "relaxed" pose from the real mannequins, but without careful examination (or having never played the level before) you'd never be able to tell until they started clubbing you in the back of the head. Or you turned around to find that the mannequin on the pedestal behind you has walked off, or you see one looking at you.... A paranoid player may have attacked every single mannequin as a precautionary measure from the start of the department store level.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Enemies can reload their guns, while you cannot (although not every enemy carries spare ammo).
  • Neck Snap: One of Ethan's four finishing moves that he can perform on a weakened opponent.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Plenty. They get weirder and scarier as the game progresses to the point where it's difficult to tell whether something supernatural is happening or not.
  • One-Man Army: Ethan. Over the course of two games, Ethan fights his through an army of psychos with things like pipes, boards, wrenches, and the occasional firearm. Justified, because almost all of Ethan's enemies are crazy hobos with little to no strategy in melee combat or sense of self preservation, and Ethan is a trained FBI agent with "abnormally high" muscle and bone density.
  • Pipe Pain: A common type of weapon. Comes in many varieties, to boot!
  • Pistol-Whipping: You can use firearms as melee weapons, but it's not recommended as you'll break the firing mechanism after just a couple of swings. Pistols are also pretty much the worst melee weapons in the entire game, which is understandable since a small bit of metal doesn't compare well to a pipe or 2x4.
  • Scenery Gorn: The devs sure did a great job of making the run-down urban locations look as awesome as possible.
  • Serial Killer: There's a variety of serial killers who X is hunting down and killing; you explicitly deal with ones called the "Match Maker" and the "Torturer", though SKX at the end mentions two more, a "Roadside Carver" who simply slit his victims' throats, and a "Bone Cutter" who would apparently cut out his victims' internal organs and individually label them for the police.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: Serial Killer X, the main antagonist, is named as such late in the game after you discover one of his victims. The first guy you're chasing is the "Match Maker", a serial killer who sets up his victims (always female) with male department store mannequins that have been damaged with a specific marking on one cheek. But then halfway through the game, you find the same sort of scene, but with the genders reversed - a male victim (with the same sort of scar on his cheek) and a female mannequin. Turns out that the victim this time is the Match Maker, done in with his own methods.
    • Unlike many other examples of this trope, this guy is not doing it out of any sense of altruism or justice. He seems to be doing it as a way of "absorbing" the power of murderers or something like that.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Guaranteed to happen at least once while you're playing, even if you aren't aiming to do it.
  • Shock and Awe: The basic taser stuns enemies just long enough for you to steal their weapon. After getting upgraded in the library, it takes a huge chunk out of the enemy's health and causes them to collapse, allowing the player to kill them with a single hit. See Boring but Practical.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Pump-action shotguns usually come with enough ammo to help you get through a tough fight or at least keep you alive long enough to find a decent replacement weapon. Double-barreled ones on the other hand only come with 2 shots and are only useful for killing a single powerful enemy. In a game where you are constantly attacked by large groups of murderous hobos this makes it almost useless.
  • Shovel Strike: The shovel is a fairly rare and powerful weapon. It can be used to bypass certain types of locked doors.
  • Sinister Subway: Two levels towards the beginning of the game. Considered the Slow-Paced Beginning before the department store level really starts ratcheting up the tension and Mind Screws.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: Every time Serial Killer X shows up, and a few moments with some of the regular enemies.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: The subways have several female enemies that bear a resemblance to this trope - most likely due to the squalid living conditions one would expect in a subway.
  • Subways Suck: They're apparently infested with pipe-wielding psychotic maniacs.
  • Survival Horror: Weapons must be scavenged, guns and ammo are extremely limited, and health kits aren't exactly a-dime-a-plenty. A few sections have some Checkpoint Starvation to add to the tension as well.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Firearms cannot be reloaded, and must be discarded after using up all the pre-loaded bullets.
  • Verbed Title
  • Vice City: A Deconstruction in that it shows just how frightening a decaying, crime-filled city, in which the cops don't really do anything unless they have to, would be.
  • Vigilante Execution: SKX's modus operandi.
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: In the course of proving his innocence in the murder of two police officers, Ethan flees from the police (twice), breaks into multiple closed or condemned buildings, and bludgeons a small army of hobos, drug addicts, and assorted other lunatics to death. Then again, it's entirely possible Malcolm Van Horn or the Ancient Conspiracy pulled strings to get him off the hook.
    Shadrouge: Isn't the whole reason that you're sneaking around down here is because the police think you've killed someone and—
    Shadrow: Hey, look, the police are outside! Yay!
    Shadrouge: "I didn't kill anyone so I think I'll go run off and kill a bunch more!"
    BigPhyll: Like I pointed out before, yeah, this cop is just going on a killing spree with weapons like sledgehammers and axes!
    Fertro: No, they attacked him first.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Metro City, in which the games are set, is what appears to be a "Rust Belt" city, due to its large amount of abandoned factories and cold winter. However, the Rust Belt area is quite large.

Alternative Title(s): Condemned

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/CondemnedCriminalOrigins?from=VideoGame.Condemned