What If? Condemned 3

One of the best times of my entire career in gaming was working on Condemned: Criminal Origins and Condemned 2: Bloodshot. The friends I made while working on that team still are strong today, and every once in a while I will see threads like this one on NeoGAF that warm my heart hearing such fawn memories of the game.

One of the most common things I see from fans of the series is wanting Condemned 3. Sadly at this time I don't think WB Games, Monolith Productions, or Sega would want to move forward with a 3rd game, but that doesn't mean it hasn't crossed some of our minds that worked on it. I figured I'd share some of my ideas of where I would have loved the third game to go.

To be clear, these ideas are my personal ideas. Contains spoilers on Condemned, LOST, and more. Read at your own risk.

Good & Bad of Condemned 2

So let's start with many people didn't like Condemned 2. While it improved the forensic mechanics, it added too much gun combat, and the story was all over the place. I personally think Condemned: Criminal Origins was one of the scariest games created, and part of that was the feeling of being powerless when you didn't have a weapon. In Condemned 2: Bloodshot it was common for players, especially later in the game, to ditch all weapons and just use their fists because they were so overpowered. This broke the tension and thus made is less scary.

Next up was the story, which worked, but went in a direction I personally though got a little strange and if not silly. Not that Condemned: Criminal Origins was going to win awards for its story, but Condemned 2 just didn't click and fans reacted.

Condemned 3

Since fans have a sour taste about Condemned 2, how do you fix it for Condemned 3? By pulling a Dallas, Newhart, or St. Elsewhere. If you don't understand those reference they are some of the best or most insane twists in television history. Pretty much all of them have the entire series or multiple seasons all be a dream.

In my Condemned 3, Ethan Thomas would wake up shortly after the events of Condemned: Criminal Origin. Serial Killer X/Leland Vanhorn is dead. Malcolm Vanhorn is missing. Ethan has been placed on permanent paid administrative leave due to the events. Ethan is consumed by his attempts to find evidence to prove the existence of The Oro. It has turned into an obsession that has caused Ethan to drink, thus giving a allowing for Condemned 2: Bloodshot to be a dream during a drunken stupor. Removed as if it never even happened. That cleans things up nicely to move forward.

The idea for Ethan's obsession came to me while watching LOST. For those that remember after being rescued, Jack becomes obsessed with finding a way back to the island. His obsession has taken a toll on his relationships with others, and on himself. Becoming an alcoholic and even contemplating suicide. This is how I envision Ethan. Someone who has lost all his relationships and clearly on the edge. Hell, Jack and Ethan in Condemned 2 look similar.

Jack really wants back on the island

When someone is obsessed in that manner, evidence is their salvation. Two other sources on how obsession takes over ones life. One being Fox Mulder career trying to prove the existence and related conspiracy of aliens on the X-Files. Second being the adaptation of John Carter, where Carter spends years attempting to find a way to return to Barsoom.

Obsession of John Carter

Ethan's only goal is evidence, as that is the only thing that could convince people that he isn't insane. Thus the goal of Condemned 3 would be to gather evidence of The Oro and seek out what their goals are and who else might be involved. The game structure would change from a linear level system to being more of a hub and spoke allowing the player to explore the various destinations of the city to gather evidence and bring it back to Ethan's apartment for further examination and cataloging. Taking influences from The Darkness, Metroid, and Blade Runner the player would have to return to locations based on the evidence they have already gathered and unveiling the story like a puzzle. Being able to return to locations multiple times based on the players prior investigations or inventory opens up a great deal of interesting options including changing the environment. Perhaps you go to a location and nothing is there. Upon returning you see an active murder investigation and since Ethan is not part of SCU, he is unable to explore. Returning again the investigation has completed, but Ethan can explore in search of evidence.

World Map Example
Evidence collection would be an evolution of the improvements made from Condemned to Condemned 2. With the hub and spoke design, the user would be allowed to take certain tools when leaving Ethan's apartment. Either it be UV light, flashlight, pistol, camera, or other items, all of which would help Ethan collect evidence and unravel more clues. Some items would provide larger clues to the overall story of the game, while others are filler content. The player's goal would be to leave no stone unturned and return to areas multiple times to see what may have changed or investigate it again with new found abilities or tools.

While combat would still be a part of the game, it would be greatly toned down from Condemned 2: Bloodshot. This would return to the roots of player safety at all times. Guns would be available but ammunition would be rare. Melee weapons would give you a false sense of safety, and if you are down to your hands, it might be better to run away and hide. I'd want the player to be terrified if they don't have a weapon. I'd want that same feeling I had when hearing a monkey in System Shock 2. Enemies in Condemned 3 would range from violent homeless thugs to non-violent bystanders, as well as The Oro lurking around including some that would hunt you similar to Nemesis from Resident Evil 3.

And that is the elevator pitch if I was in charge of Condemned 3. Sadly the likelihood of another Condemned being made is zero due to limited sales of Condemned 2: Bloodshot. Even in the remote chance, majority of the team have left Monolith Productions, so it really would be a totally new team creating it. In the end I think everyone involved with the Condemned series is extremely proud of the games we made and hearing fans express their gratitude and enthusiasm for the series that will be 10 years old next year just shows you that we were doing something right.