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Condemned: Criminal Origins

There's nothing quite like skulking around the dark, armed with a 2x4 embedded with rusty nails, swiping at shadows of homicidal junkies. In other words, there's nothing quite like the visceral horror of Condemned: Criminal Origins, headed to PC in mid-April.

Already a success on Xbox 360, Condemned puts you in the flat feet of an FBI detective, investigating a serial murderer. But this is no glossy X-Files assignment; you'll stalk the stalker yourself, digging through abandoned apartments, filthy subway tunnels and disgusting sewer drains. Along the way, you'll fight a series of stealthy, strung-out nutjobs, all intent on killing you on the spot with whatever bits of debris might be available - lead pipes, metal signs, sledgehammers, whatever. The problem is, you're not any better armed than they are; except for a taser, you're left to fight back with those same improvised weapons. If grabbing a chunk of rebar and concrete out of a nearby wall is what it takes to survive, grab it, start swinging and pray.

The game's full of disturbing imagery, in part thanks to the killer's trademark: carving up department-store mannequins and posing them in creepy scenes with his victims. With a collection of high-tech forensic tools at your disposal, you'll uncover fingerprints, strangle marks and telltale signs of mutilation.

The PC version adds mouse and keyboard support for a natural, clean point-and-click experience that suits the action well. Before the game comes out next week, download the demo, kill the lights and dive into the dark. If you're not scared, you're not human.

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