Condemned by SEGA-Monolith Productions


N

NEXT BOX

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Condemned is has obviously been made using PC graphics hardware of the last
1-2 years, and most likely, ATi's graphics cards: Radeon 9800 Pro through
Radeon X800 XT




Condemned Announced For Xbox 2 & PS3

Sega of America today revealed that they are working with Monolith
Productions to develop a PlayStation 3, Xbox 2, and PC game entitled,
Condemned. The company revealed that it will be an first-person
psychological thriller and will place players as an FBI agent to find out
who the murderers are.


"SEGA expects Condemned to engage the game player with visceral,
in-your-face, urban combat and an unparalleled level of unpredictability,"
said Scott A. Steinberg, Vice President of Entertainment Marketing, SEGA of
America. "The atmospheric tension and cinematic qualities of Condemned offer
consumers the rich experience of a psychological thriller; something that
has not been accomplished on previous hardware platforms."

"New leaps in technology are allowing our teams to create immersive game
environments that are incredibly realistic," said Samantha Ryan, CEO of
Monolith Productions. "Monolith's goal with Condemned, is to combine a
disturbing atmosphere with realistic physics, devious AI, and a
sophisticated combat system."

Not much information has been revealed, but expect more information later
down the road. Condemned is slated to ship in Winter 2005 for the first next
generation console (which has not yet been announced) and the PC.





____________________________________________________________________________
_____________





THE FUTURE OF FEAR


Hanging from the crumbling ceiling, the light above you flickers and dies.
In the dark, your other senses park up, trying to help you navigate the
dilapidated area around you. A drop of water falls nearby. The roof is
leaking. The hair on your arm stands up as a cool breeze flickers over your
skin. A crack in the failing walls leads outside. A foul smell fills your
nostrils. The smell of death. He was here- he used this space to work on his
victims. You reach into your bag, pull out a small device and switch it on.
It throws out a sickly green beam, which quickly reveals a previously unseen
handprint on the cold brick wall. You scan the stone surface and see several
more handprints along its length. He went this way, steadying himself on the
wall as he carried his victim into the night. You start down the same path,
following in the footsteps of a killer. Ahead of you, the shadows shift, and
a soft cackle cuts through the silence. You are not alone.


This scene might feel like it is straight out of a Hollywood thriller, and
that's exactly what Sega and Monolith want you to think. But this is no
movie- it is Monolith's dark new title Condemned. The esteemed developer
wants to immerse you in the gloomy world of a psychological thriller and
create an entirely unique and frightening game. This is not a first-person
shooter, nor is it a survival horror game. It is a different type of scary
experience, one that draws more inspiration from films like Seven and The
Silence of the Lambs than the Resident Evil series or Doom 3. It is a game
that will scare players with atmosphere, pacing, and a tangible sense of
dread. It is a game that will stun with its realism and unsettle viewers
with its shocking moments and visceral feel. It is a game that is only
possible because of the raw power of Xbox 2.


As most gamers know, the Xbox 2(or Xenon as it is also called) is likely to
be the first next-generation machine to come on the market, with its release
probable before the end of the year. Despite the relatively short timeframe
before its debut, few details on the launch lineup for Microsoft's new
machine have been revealed. According to Sega, barring any exclusivity deal,
Condemned is being developed for multiple next-gen consoles and PC. However,
our investigation has confirmed that Condemned will be coming to Xbox 2, and
will likely ship around the launch of the console. Although neither
Microsoft nor Sega will confirm Xbox 2's existence, we have proof, beyond a
shadow of a doubt, that everything you see here is for Xbox 2, and we will
address it as such.


While Washington-based Monolith is well known as a PC developer, the company
has been yearning to break into the console market. The start of a new
generation was the perfect time for it to jump into the fray, considering it
's the first console project is a new type of game, one that has a better
chance of finding a audience at the start of a new hardware cycle. Consider
the games that have debuted with consoles in the past- many have carved out
new styles of play or redefined an existing genre. Condemned is such a game.
While first-person perspectives and scary games are nothing new, the way
Condemned combines the two is. Monolith's goal is to create a truly tense
and unnerving thriller that is rooted in reality, or something that has
never been done before in video games. In the past, several horror games
have managed to elicit genuine scares, but none have done so by convincing
the player that the action takes place in the real world. Condemned will not
put you against zombies or ghosts, instead populating its world with human
monsters. As Ethan Thomas, member of the FBI's Serial Crime Unit, you will
be tasked with tracking down several vicious serial killers, and will face
many other deranged individuals along the way. You will learn what drives
these vicious killers and stare into the face of madness itself. While the
plot will take many twists and turns to add intricate layers onto this
premise, believability is incredibly important to Monolith, and the game
will stay rooted in reality. Thanks to the abilities of Xbox 2, Monolith has
managed to create a world that feels just like our own- which is exactly
what makes it so terrifying.


There has been much speculation about what the next generation of video game
consoles will be capable of, and Condemned reveals many answers to those
questions. Improved graphics logically accompany each iteration of consoles,
and Condemned obviously excels in this arena. Throughout the game, you will
find yourself in a variety of locations, each more decayed and filthy than
the last. As you chase down a pack of serial killers, you will explore
subway stations, ruined factories, abandoned department stores, failed youth
centers, and more. Every environment is filled with clutter that is both
real and unsettling. Stained mattresses lay on scuffed wood floors, ancient
console televisions feature spider webs of cracks across their screen, and
broken plastic chairs suggest the lost innocence of structures once
populated by smiling children. Each are features rich textures, atmospheric
lighting, and creepy ambiance that you'd swear that they were real- and, in
a way, they are. The Xbox 2 is capable of displaying such realistic
environments that Monolith hired a location scout to find some of the most
run-down, disgusting, and downright frightening locations around the Seattle
area and capture them in photographs. The best (or possibly worst) elements
of these locations were recreated in the game with such attention to detail
that it is difficult to tell the real place apart from its digital
recreation.


The games appearing on the Xbox in the last year have begun to use powerful
graphical tools such as normal mapping, a technique that allows digital
artists to create the illusion of depth through detailed "wrapping papers"
on low resolution objects that have lighting information encoded within.
Normal mapping, an elaborate technique for the current generation, looks
poised to become the standard on the next. While it is a tool that the
current Xbox can utilize, it will be taken to the next level in Condemned by
using it in conjunction with several other mapping techniques, each of which
adds further detail to a digital creation. The combination of these
techniques creates visuals far more realistic than anything the current
generation can produce. Every surface and object in Condemned is made by
using multiple maps, such as the normal map, color map, specular map (for
further lighting information), and more. To create skin that looks real,
each character in the game is covered in seven different maps, and is built
from up to eight million polygons. The level of detail on these characters
is amazing, and simply is not possible on today's lineup of game machines.
The realism of both the characters and locations is further augmented by
volumetric lighting., a real-time light and shadow system that behaves
exactly the way light does in reality. In each area you explore, you will
notice how the meager light spilling in from a window diffuses into the
darkness, how your flashlight beam fades into the distant crepuscule, and
how shadows play realistically off of surfaces as a deranged lunatic comes
between you and the only small bare bulb lighting a room.


In many ways, the stunning graphics of Condemned are what allow for the
pacing, which is much slower than what gamers are used to in first-person
titles. Since at its core Condemned is about unraveling a mystery, players
are encouraged to carefully explore each area to help them find clues. "In
previous generations, you wouldn't want someone to walk up to a wall and
look at it, because you'd notice that it didn't look real," says Matt Allen,
Condemned's art lead. "We want you to look around." Not only are players
encouraged to examine areas for clues, Allen is simple proud of what his
team has accomplished. "The slower pace of the game forces us to create more
detailed environments, and we want to show off what our engineers can do.
There are all these little things that we've added to make a crossing a room
cool. We let you experience things more."


As you explore these highly detailed environments, you will notice the
little things Monolith has done to fill Condemned with an incredibly
palpable sense of dread. Even when the player is the only thing moving
onscreen, it feels like things are happening all around. All objects in the
game feature full Havok 3.0 psychics, and the sounds of each item have been
captured from real life. Trash from an overturned garbage can will spill out
in every direction, and maniacal laughter echoes disturbingly through quiet
rooms. Every footstep you take is audible, and you can even tell what type
of surface you're walking on by sound alone. Your character's movement is
noticeably different while walking up stairs than when on flat ground. A
flashlight is clipped onto Thomas' jacket, which casts just enough light to
pick up sinister movements in the distant shadows. The foes you'll face will
scamper quickly across a room, trying to lead you into a trap. Sometimes it
will be obvious that you're about to enter a fight, and sometimes it will
come as a complete surprise. Even though it lacks the frantic pace of a
typical shooter, Condemned features a very important focus on combat. But
like everything else in the game, it is approached from a slightly different
angle.


Quote:
"The anticipation of battle is just as important as the battle
itself," says producer Dave Hasle. "This game is about tension." As you
hunt psychotic killers through the dank, unfriendly locations, you will
encounter those that lead game designer Frank Rooke describes as "condemned
people." These are the people who have been marginalized by society,
mentally unstable unfortunates who have found their homes in the areas that
normal citizens fear to enter. Living in the slums and forgotten corners of
the city, they are the derelicts that have lost touch with reality and
civilization. They are the people that populate the areas that you will find
yourself in, and more often that not, they won't be happy to see you. As you
follow your quarry into forbidden areas, the condemned will greet you as an
intruder and deal with you as such. But crazy as they may be, these foes are
not stupid. In fact, their intelligent AI is another aspect of what makes
the game so realistic, and demonstrates the further abilities of Xbox 2.


Sometimes, one of these lost souls may charge you, swinging randomly
with a piece of lumber or rebar. But more frequently, they will try to sneak
around you, toss garbage cans at you, or otherwise put you at a
disadvantage. They will try to crush you by toppling shelves, and even try
to grad you and throw you down stairwells. If you approach an enemy while
wielding an axe, gun, or other powerful weapon, he will run from and try to
find a weapon of his own. Enemies will pull pipes and boards from walls to
attack you with, actively use group tactics to give themselves and
advantage, and even attempt to lead you into ambushes. They also know when
they are outmatched, fleeing if they realize you are too tough for them to
search for a better weapon. They will look for any opportunity to create a
tactical advantage, but sometimes their mania will simply take hold of them.
They will push their comrades out of the ay to attack, and may even leap at
you like a wild beast, kicking and scratching with all four limbs.


Building on the intelligent AI systems found in their previous games,
Monolith created antagonists that behave more intelligently and
realistically than any game to date. The Xbox 2 allows condemned (and the
other types of enemies you'll face) to act more naturally than traditional
video game enemies, and its power gives Monolith the freedom to use them in
more complex situations. Gameplay scenarios were presented to us that rival
blockbuster action movies in complexity. One scenario described had the
player trying to escape from a gas-filled building while fending off two
separate, unique groups of enemies inside, with a more powerful third
assortment of foes waiting outside. Including the player and the deadly gas,
this scenario asks the game console to deal with five distinct elements
simultaneously- something far beyond the abilities of current consoles.


The team at Monolith is able to create such complex scenarios thanks
to the tools built into the development kits. Engineering lead Joe Waters
was quite forthcoming about making a game for the new consoles, and how it
varied from working on other platforms (although Monolith's previous titles
have all been released for PC, most of the Condemned team has worked on
console games for other companies). The first Xbox, Playstation 2, and
Gamecube all required developers to create tools to make a game before the
actual game design even began, but the Xbox 2 does not. The development kits
are loaded with programs to help the team build the game and meet Microsoft'
s certifications. As a result, the programmers are able to spend more time
making the game great, rather than making sure it works with the hardware,
as it should. In other words, as Waters puts it, the Xbox 2 allows you to
"design your house, rather than design it after you figure out how the
plumbing will work."


According to Waters, the Xbox 2 is easier to develop for than PS2 or
Gamecube, and only slightly harder to work with than the original Xbox.
Programming for the new console is more complex, he says, only because it
gives developer more options to work with. He also claims that it is more a
true console than Microsoft's first (rather than a PC in a box), and that it
will be more powerful than the best PCs on the market when it launches. But
all of this impressive technology amounts to nothing if the story and
gameplay aren't there.


Fortunately, the rest of Condemned is just as impressive as the
technology that was used to create it. The story of a Serial Crime Unit
agent tracking down multiple serial killers might not at first seem like a
natural fit for the world of video games, but there is much more to
Condemned's plot than meets the eye. "Being scared is a huge element," says
Frank Rooke. "But at the same time, the sensation of unraveling a mystery is
what it's really about. Being scary is almost a byproduct." As Ethan Thomas
hunts down each of the deadly sociopath, he'll delve into the mystery of how
these people crossed over the line into madness. In the world of Condemned,
there is a shadowy element at play that corrupts those prone to mental
illness and causes them to descend into complete insanity. Both the serial
killers and the condemned people you encounter have fallen victim to this
force, making them a danger to anyone around. The idea of a mysterious
presence that drives people crazy may sound fantastic, but Monolith assures
us that nothing in this game will take place outside of the realm of
possibility. There may be some elements in the game that aren't found in the
real world, but there is nothing that couldn't theoretically exist.


The unrevealed sinister presence is only one of the deeper elements
found in the plot of this game. There is far more to the story than just
some diabolical killers - Condemned will explore themes of intuition,
madness, self-destruction, identity, and more; all while wrapped in a
twisting plot more complex than those featured in the mystery section of
your local video store. Rooke openly shared many major plot twists with us
to illustrate the team's goals with Condemned, but we would never spoil its
secrets by revealing them. One thing you can expect to see is the plot
delving into the motivations of the vicious killers. "What makes a serial
killer so interesting is not catching him or killing him," says Rooke. "It's
figuring out why he does the things he does."


Players will learn the title's secrets when they start exploring its
dark world come the launch of the new system. Thanks largely to the
realistic feel of the game, the story will unfold mainly in-game, and won't
rely heavily on cutscenes. Those that are included will be largely
interactive, allowing the player to move the camera and otherwise remain
involved in the action. One off the title's most compelling features, the
forensic detective element, functions both as a storytelling device and a
gameplay mechanic. Since Condemned takes place in a realistic universe,
levels aren't laid in simple, linear paths. Players must find their way
through the dreary environments by using detective tools. There are six
different tools, including a laser light, which can detect clues like
footprints, a UV light for uncovering organic evidence such as blood and
other fluids, and a gas spectrometer for detecting odors and gasses in the
air. A 3d scanner collects the data for transmission back to the forensics
lab. In one demo area we were shown, Thomas followed a trail of chemicals
through a train station by searching for the dripping trail with the laser
light. The chemicals glowed green under its beam, leading him through the
level.


Whenever the player enters an area where evidence awaits, Thomas'
intuition tells him to investigate, and an on-screen prompt appears to alert
the player. With a click of a button, Thomas removes his scanning tool from
his bag so the player can search the area. If something interesting is
uncovered, Thomas can transmit his findings to the lab, where his partner
can analyze it and report her findings. In the level we witnesses, Thomas
followed the chemical trail to a trashcan, in which several photographs were
discovered. Through a video response which played on his cell phone, Thomas
learned that the chemicals were used in photo development, and that the
pictures were shots of his own apartment taken from inside the train
station. In this sequence, not only did the forensics element drive the
player through the level, but it also conveyed the story without the use of
a cinematic.


Throughout the course of a level, the player will be treated to a few brief
cutscenes that show the killer you are chasing taking some sinister action.
These aren't psychic flashes or glimpses of the future- they are the clues
coming together in Thomas's mind. Referred to by Rooke as "mind's eye
moments," these brief videos are triggered when a key piece of evidence is
discovered. For example, when indentations that revealed a heavy object had
been dragged across the floor were found, we witnessed a quick sequence
showing the killer pushing a cabinet in the front of a door. Unfolding in
creepy photo-negative style, this vignette revealed Thomas putting the clues
together in his brain and told us that we needed to uncover this door to
continue.


As Thomas works his way through the city's seed underbelly in search of the
brutal killers, he will find many of the intelligent, deranged lost souls
standing in his way. These condemned people move with frightening realism
(the vast majority of character movements in the game were motion captured),
and react to Thomas in a variety of ways. Sometimes they'll scamper through
the darkness away from him, and other times he may stumble across them as
they viciously dispatch a helpless civilian. Other times they'll turn a
blind eye towards the intruder in their territory, but on most occasions,
they'll force Thomas to fight.


It may come as a shock to some, but the bulk of Condemned's fighting
involves melee combat. Thomas is not a cold-blooded killer, and thus doesn't
gun down the mentally unstable lurkers that lunge at him in the darkness.
But he must defend himself, and will use the objects around him to fight off
his attackers. Like his foes, he can pull weapons like pipes off walls, rip
apart a shelf for a punishing piece of wood, or use handly tools like
hammers, axes, and shovels for defense. Just as a prompt appears when Thomas
' finely honed senses indicate that evidence is nearby, an onscreen
indicator appears when an item can be used for a weapon. Beating someone
with a piece of lumber feels every bit as vicious and brutal as it should. A
few cracks across the face will drop any attacker, and the sound it makes as
it connects is sickening. Blood sprays from wounds, and specific body parts
can be targeted to devastating effect. "It was very important to us to have
this guttural feel to combat," says Dave Hasle. "It's not clean, it's not
military or organized. It's very chaotic, using whatever you've got at
hand."


Although you a certainly dish out the punishment with your melee weapons,
Thomas is no superhero and can be taken out just as fast as anyone else. A
shot across the face with a pipe will cause your vision to flash red, and it
only takes a few swings to bring you down permanently. Of course you can
block, but remembering that you are simply human is the main to staying
alive. Melee combat in the first-person perspective has a spotty story, but
the fighting in Condemned is actually engaging enough to convert any
nonbeliever.


There are firearms found throughout the game as well, but don't expect to
blast your way through your foes once you find one. As no one in the real
world saves convenient stashes of ammo lying around, your rounds are limited
to those loaded in the weapon. You will be able to use the gun as a
blunt-force weapon once your rounds are depleted, and by doing so will
eventually break it. Fortunately, there are roughly 20 melee weapons in the
game, including brutal additions like shovels, locker doors, bar stools, and
more. There are plenty of defensive tools to choose from once your rounds
are gone, and you will also carry a laser that can stun foes at a distance
in case there are no weapons to be found. Of course, condemned will feature
several different types of enemies that battle as well. There will be three
distinct "levels" of insanity in the foes you'll encounter, which dictates
how dangerous they are. Those in the first rage of their madness are the
most common, and are basically violent street people. Those in the second
stage have fully given in to their rage and madness, making them the most
violent and unpredictable. The adrenaline and anger flowing in their systems
makes them aggressive, resilient, and incredibly deadly. On the other hand,
the stage three foes are the weakest- they have coped with their madness for
so long that it has consumed them, leaving their bodies weak and their minds
cloudy. They are still dangerous, but in many situations they won't attack
unless provoked.


In each of the game's eight stages, the foes you encounter will take on
different traits and appearances. One stage takes place in a burned library,
which is populated by unfortunate souls who were trapped inside. These
scarred transients cover their burns in whatever is available, making them
look diseased urban mummies. In another stage, Thomas explores an abandoned
department store, and will discover people who glue mannequin parts to their
skin and pretend to be statues until someone walks by. As Thomas battles
these maniacs, their plastic armor cracks off, revealing their true faces.
By populating each stage with a unique set of creepy, insane denizens,
Monolith hopes to keep players on edge throughout the entire game.


Over the course of the twisting adventure, Thomas will take on hordes of
deranged foes as well as several different serial killers, each with their
own methods and madness. In each mission, Thomas will head out after on of
the psychopaths, who sport colorful names like The Torturer, The Bonecutter,
and The Blade. While each of these monsters carries out their grisly
business independently, they are all tied together in a greater storyline.


As players unravel the mysteries of the plot, they will earn what drives
these killers to undertake their bloody work. They will also uncover a
sinister force that pushes people over the precipice into madness, and
observe the effects of what happens to a good man who spends too much time
surrounded by darkness. It is an ambitious tale for a video game, but one
that has the potential to redefine what can and cannot be done in a scary
game. Condemned is a title that demonstrates the freedoms made possible by a
the video game technology of tomorrow, one that has the potential to affect
its audience far more deeply than the best Hollywood mystery. Its
photorealistic environments, unnerving enemies, forensic elements, and
visceral combat put players in the shoes of the protagonist far more
effectively than the best movie, and the twisting, interactive plot is more
complex than what can be done on film. Thanks to the talented crew at
Monolith and the incredible abilities of the next generation of game
machines. Condemned just may take the art of fear to a whole new level.
 
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T

Ted

As a Sega fan, what can I say but "That game looks like crap". Just what
Sega needs; a game that brings to mind Illbleed mixed with The Ring:
Terror's Realm.
 
T

The Berzerker

Ted said:
As a Sega fan, what can I say but "That game looks like crap". Just what
Sega needs; a game that brings to mind Illbleed mixed with The Ring:
Terror's Realm.

I don't know what you and the other guy's talking about, I think it looks
great. Maybe it'll give Sega some recognition again... and what are you
talking about, Illbleed? They're nothing to do with each other... let me
guess, they both have blood, right?
 
D

DrBukkake?

NEXT said:
Sega of America today revealed that they are working with Monolith
Productions to develop a PlayStation 3, Xbox 2, and PC game entitled,
Condemned.

resident evil 4 can't be beaten...
 
T

Ted

The said:
I don't know what you and the other guy's talking about, I think it looks
great. Maybe it'll give Sega some recognition again... and what are you
talking about, Illbleed? They're nothing to do with each other... let me
guess, they both have blood, right?

No, they both look like they're supposed to be "funny" in an unfunny
way; Illbleed at least has the excuse that they were going for that,
even if it undercuts the scary part of the game. But you're right; the
design looks more like Death Crimson OX than it looks like Illbleed.
That's not really a move upwards tho. Perhaps you enjoy sterile PC
games; perhaps this game appeals to you for that reason.
 
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T

The Berzerker

Ted said:
No, they both look like they're supposed to be "funny" in an unfunny
way; Illbleed at least has the excuse that they were going for that,
even if it undercuts the scary part of the game. But you're right; the
design looks more like Death Crimson OX than it looks like Illbleed.
That's not really a move upwards tho. Perhaps you enjoy sterile PC
games; perhaps this game appeals to you for that reason.

I see nothing funny about this game but agree that Illbleed was quite
hilariously weird at times. I know the teams are almost definitely
different, but the overall quality of FEAR will judge whether I'll likely to
be buying this Condemned game. To be honest, it looks like another
potentially great FPS. I have no idea why you've dismissed it so quickly.
Let me guess, you're bored of FPS? The run and gun methods prove tedious?
Well, I just read the article, and it sounds like those are almost the last
thing planned for this. It's all about atmosphere, and taking it slow. Even
if the article is eventually proven wrong, I'm sure my undersized brain will
still find enjoyment in this, right Ted?

I'm sorry Ted, I love you really. You're my favourite.
 
M

Mojo JoJo

Try playing Deep Fear on the Sega Saturn. Sega's first attempt at the
survival horror genre, on top of that the voice acting is top notch(note my
sarcasm)!

Mojo
 
Z

Zomoniac

Try playing Deep Fear on the Sega Saturn. Sega's first attempt at the
survival horror genre, on top of that the voice acting is top notch(note my
sarcasm)!

Done by the guy from Little Britain, no less.

Zo
 
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