Your Daily McMaster: there’s something in the dark…and it’s moving

, | Features

In honor of October, the spookiest month of the year, I’m going to share with you some of my scariest moments. These are tales fraught with horror, so beware ye faint of heart. Also, fraught with a grown man screaming and running away, if that does anything for you.

After the jump, more jumping

In Condemned, you play Ethan Thomas, a FBI agent that works in the Serial Crimes division. You arrive on scene to do an investigation and everything goes south. There’s a new super-drug on the street that’s turning people into crazed, super-human killers. The game plays much like a first person shooter, but with punches and melee weapons. A first person fisticuffer, if you will. Weapons of the rifle variety are rare and rather fickle, forcing you to creep through the dark with a flashlight and piece of pipe, just waiting for a crazy to jump out and eat your face.

By way of a fun fact, Condemned was a launch title for the XBox 360 and they had been selling the games for a few days before the console launched. I had, earlier that week, picked up a copy of Condemned and a few other launch titles. When I got home from picking up my 360 at the midnight launch, set it up and had everything going, it was pretty late at night. My wife and I had recently moved into this old, three story house built around 1900. It was creaky, drafty and still sort of dusty – the perfect place to play a horror game. So I turned off all the lights, turned up the surround sound and settled in.

After the cinematics, I began winding my way through the intro mission. In short order, I find myself alone, in a burned out office building, surrounded by darkness with only my surround sound system to keep me up to date on where all the psychopaths were creeping. From behind me on the right I hear someone kick a bottle. Off in the distance, I hear someone smash a pipe into a wall and cackle. I turn a corner and see a stairway. I begin towards it, with the intention of taking the stairs down. As I’m almost at the top of the steps, a lunatic jumps up and grabs on to the railing, swinging wildly at me with his rebar.

The events that followed are a bit hazy in recollection. I somehow went from a sitting position to standing behind the couch. At the time, I had no idea where the controller had gone but it was noticeably absent. When I returned my gaze to the screen, my character had died. Apparently, the 360 had no way to detect that I wanted to run away and cry, so Ethan Thomas had just stood there as the bad guy beat him to death. Not the most heroic of deaths for Agent Thomas. By the time I managed to settle down, find the controller and shut everything off it was 3:30 in the morning and I was tired. Still, I found the strength to turn on every light on my way up to my bedroom.