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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Gamerscore, Heart Rate On the Rise (Condemned 2)

BioShock had its fair share of creepiness and jump-scares.

Half-Life 2's Ravenholm was so eerie that I have yet to finish the game.

But Condemned 2: Bloodshot is in a league of its own.

Even though I've barely finished C2:Bloodshot's second story mission, I can't count the number of times that I've been scared witless. Every environment in the game is oppressive, creepy, sinister, and disturbingly real. As you make your way through an abandoned TV repair shop, an abandoned hospital, or a once-grand hotel, you can feel your heart beating. Adrenaline kicks in and you hear everything, see everything; your senses drink in every detail as the game jump-starts your fight-or-flight response.

Beneath the bload-soaked polish on C2:Bloodshot lies a competent and extremely interesting game. I'm afraid to play the game but I feel compelled to continue. If I were watching a movie dealing with C2's subject matter, I guarantee that I'd have my hands up over my eyes for the bulk of the feature film. But Condemned 2 is an interactive game. I'm forced to stare wide-eyed at my screen as I make my way through seemingly abandoned corridors adorned with blood and dead bodies ensnared in some sort of black goo. When something jumps out at me, I've got to fight the urge to drop my controller and must instead focus on the ensuing battle to stay alive and drive the story forwards.

I guess I'm trying to say that I'm really enjoying Condemned 2: Bloodshot. It takes a good game to keep me playing even when the thought of playing the game itself fills me with dread.

Condemned 2: Bloodshot is just a game like any other. There's good guys, bad guys, and everything in between. Jump-scares and edge-of-your-seat action, objectives and achievements. In the end, I dictate what happens on-screen and I plan to make the most of my time with the game.

So what have I been up to thus far? You'll remember from my first C2:Bloodshot post that I managed to pick up a couple quick achievements: The Final Word and GOOOAAALLLL!. I've been a busy boy ever since and have added a number of achievements to my gamer profile. Let's take a look and see what "bumps" have been keeping me up at night.

Flambe [25 GamerPoint]: Earned with the liquor burn method.

Thanks go out to the Bloodshot Fight Club for its smorgasbord of opponents, weapons, and scenarios that make it easy to clear many of C2:B's achievements. The Flambe achievement is unlocked by setting fire to 25 opponents. I worked towards this achievement in the Bloodshot Fight Club Practice Arena. I used the following Fight Club options: One Thug at a time, Exotic Weapons, and Molotovs.

Once the practice scenario started, I took a quick look around the environment and spotted a number of Molotov cocktails scattered around. They were already burning and are quite easy to spot. Once I had a Molotov in hand, I'd simply throw it at my current attacker. Easy-peasy.

After using up all available Molotov cocktails for my current practice session (I believe there are only six available per session), I quit my current session and started up another. Rinse, lather and repeat five times for the Flambe achievement.

Big Game Hunter [10 GamerPoint]: The antler was used with success.

This achievement was also cleared in the Bloodshot Fight Club using the following options: Practice Arena, One Thug at a time, Light Melee Weapons, and Alcohol.

To pick up the Big Game Hunter achievement, you'll need to kill 10 opponents using the Antlers melee weapon. Unfortunately, you won't actually find the Antlers anywhere in the environment. You'll need to grab this weapon from the second thug.

Here is the actual process that I followed:

  1. Finish off first thug (wears a hoodie and wields a pipe).
  2. Second thug will run up some stairs and attack you with the Antlers. They are invisible to the naked eye due to some freaky-ass glitch (I assume since I've seen antlers in real life and they're quite visible). When the second thug attacks, use your stun gun and grab the Antlers before he has a chance to recover. I prefer getting the Antlers via this method since it's quite difficult to find the Antlers on the ground after the second thug is killed.
  3. Use the Antlers to kill the third thug (wears a skull mask).
  4. Since there are only three different thugs who'll attack you in this Fight Club scenario, use the Antlers (if they haven't broken yet) to defeat the pipe-wielding first thug.
  5. When the second thug appears again, do whatever is necessary to grab a fresh set of Antlers.
  6. Repeat this process until you've managed to take out ten thugs using the Antlers.
Big Game Hunter is an easy achievement to clear once you've grown comfortable with C2:B's combat system.

EPA (Environmental Pwnage Area) [25 GamerPoint]: You've half-nelsoned your way to success.

Although you could clear this achievement during the single player campaign, I decided to stick with the trusty Bloodshot Fight Club Practice Arena. The benefit is that there is a never-ending stream of known enemies in a known environment. And there are zero jump-scares as well!

During combat, your opponent will fall to his knees in a dazed state once you've managed to inflict enough damage on him (without actually killing him). At this point, pull both trigger buttons to put your opponent in a headlock. Skulls will appear on-screen throughout the environment.

Lead your defenseless opponent over to one of these "skulled" areas and Ethan (ie. you) will perform an Environmental kill. It takes 25 Environmental kills to unlock the EPA achievement. If you're in the groove when it comes to C2:B's combat system, this achievement should take you no longer than 10-15 minutes. Not too bad for 25 GamerPoint, right?

Chain Gang [30 GamerPoint]: Each level of chain attack has been executed a number of times.

Do I even need to mention the Bloodshot Fight Club Practice Arena anymore?

As Ethan takes out enemy after enemy, the Chain Attack Meter (located in the upper right of the screen) will fill up. There are three nodes to this meter. Each defeated enemy will usually fill up a full node if you're able to pull off some combos or an environmental kill during your fight.

Attack an opponent by double-clicking either the Left Triger (Left Chain Attack) or the Right Trigger (Right Chain Attack) to trigger a chain attack . The "Level" of the chain attack corresponds to the number of nodes currently filled in your Chain Attack Meter (1 Level per Meter Node filled up to a maximum of Level 3).

Once a chain attack is initiated, follow the on-screen prompts to follow-through with the chain attack. If you're successful, you'll be credited with a successful chain attack corresponding to the level and initiating hand (left or right). If you happen to screw up or if you wish to cancel the current chain attack (eg. you're trying to fill all three nodes of your meter but accidentally trigger a chain attack with only one or two nodes filled), your enemy will be unharmed and your Chain Attack Meter will remain unaffected. Of course, your opponent will be given a chance to take a free swing at you if you're unable to recover in time.

Clearing the Chain Gang achievement requires that you perform each of the following chain attacks five times: Left Chain Attack Lvl. 1, Left Chain Attack Lvl. 2, Left Chain Attack Lvl. 3, Right Chain Attack Lvl. 1, Right Chain Attack Lvl. 2, and Right Chain Attack Lvl. 3. You can always check the Options->Achievements tab from Condemned 2's main menu to see how many chain attacks you still need to perform in order to clear the achievement.

The Plumber [25 GamerPoint]: Your pipe is your friend.

This achievement was also cleared in the Bloodshot Fight Club using the following options: Practice Arena, One Thug at a time, Light Melee Weapons, and Alcohol.

You'll need to kill 50 enemies using the pipe to clear The Plumber achievement. There are two ways to get a pipe in the Practice Arena scenario. There is a pipe along the wall immeidately in front of you when you first start off in the Practice Arena. You can also acquire a pipe from the first thug who comes running down the stairs, wears a hoodie, and has a mild case of pink eye. Sometimes the thug will simply throw the pipe at you which makes it quite easy to pick up and use immediately.

Basically, it's easy to find a pipe. And it's easy to take down thugs with said pipe. If you can get in a groove, The Plumber achievement and its Luigi-free 25
GamerPoint can be yours in no time flat.

Beat Cop [10 GamerPoint]: You've taken on a mission and survived.

Finally, a story-related achievement! I cleared the Beat Cop achievement by playing through the first mission on the Normal difficulty setting. The mission itself is not very difficult. The true test of your skills comes into play when you're faced with enemies immediately following a heart-stopping jump-scare.

Unfortunately, I don't handle fear very well. If I feel myself getting a little too worked up, I'll break from my normal cautious form and start running through the level. I find this plan of action tricks me into thinking that I'm playing an FPS and helps steady my nerves by placing me in the role of the aggressor. Of course, I tend to die rather quickly when I fail to defend myself against the meth addicts, thugs, and evil goo monsters who've suddenly found themselves on the hunt for a panicky ex-FBI agent.

No matter how you play it, this is an easy but well-earned 10 GamerPoint.

Anger Management [10 GamerPoint]: You've expressed a wide range of emotions.

There are a number of opportunities for Ethan Thomas to respond to in-game NPCs. These responses range from flipping someone off to offering to help open a door. The opportunity to initiate a response will present itself as a timed press of the (A) button. Hit the (A) button in time, Ethan will make an appropriately gruff comment or action, and you'll be credited with one response. Ten such responses will earn you the Anger Management achievement.

Investigator [25 GamerPoint]: You took on the hardest and beat them at their game.

The Investigator achievement is earned by completing the first story mission on Hard Mode. I pulled this off right after completing the first mission on Normal Mode. Remembering exactly what needed to be done and the exact locations of my enemies made this achievement quite easy to clear. Mind you, I did die a few times since the various enemies seemed much more resilient to dying.

Sleuth [10 GamerPoint]: You earned a PERFECT with your investigative skills.

I cleared this achievement last night during the second story mission. A third of the way through the mission, I stumbled upon a body. By examining the body and the crime scene properly, I was able to earn myself a PERFECT rating.

If you're looking for a good guide to help you obtain a PERFECT rating on all of your investigations, you can refer to this guide. For what it's worth, I don't think it's very difficult to earn the PERFECT rating at a crime scene. However, you'll have to decide for yourself how much brain power you want to expend in your attempts to become a Master Investigator. I will say that it might be a little tougher to think straight when you can hear enemies scuffling about in the dark around you.

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So far, I've picked up 11 of the 38 achievements found in Condemned 2: Bloodshot. I only see myself picking up another 10 achievements; unfortunately, the other 17 achievements can only be unlocked via multiplayer.

If Condemned 2 remains as scary as it has been in the first couple missions, the last ten achievements will be some of the most difficult that I'll ever pick up. But it looks like I'm up to the challenge!

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