My pal Greg gave me a spare copy of Condemned: Criminal Origins when the Xbox 360 came out.
I just finished it.
I may have soiled myself. I’ll have to check.
Short version: Think about Seven or the big ending scene from The Silence of the Lambs, then turn that into a game with a first-person perspective. Creeping through sewers, abandoned buildings, burnt-out libraries and other stuff I won’t ruin here. You’re armed with whatever you can physically pull off the walls–pieces of pipe, 2x4s with nails in ’em, locker doors, you name it. You’re hunting a serial killer, but violent junkies and freaky homeless people leap out at you, armed with whatever they could scavenge. This was one of the most disturbing, truly scary games I’ve ever played, and it didn’t rely on shock value or even its plot–it was all about the pacing.
I started playing the game four days after the 360 came out, November 26, 2005. Thirteen months later, I finally got around to finishing it.
And I got my most prized achievement doing it–I used only melee weapons from start to finish to be dubbed a Gold Melee Master. Guns are in the game, but I felt that was not why Condemned was made. Hey, I can use a shotgun or a pistol in any other first-person game out there.
You can find the 360 version used for about $25 but there’s also a $30 direct-download PC version–try the demo, I dare you. You will not find a more terrifying game for the money.