Conduit 2 (Wii Review) by Carl B.
Developer: High Voltage Software
Release Date: April 19, 2011
April 21, 2011, by Carl B. - High Voltage Software and Sega released their highly anticipated Wii shooter, The Conduit, on June 23, 2009 to the masses. HVS promised the best shooter on the Wii to date, and while they certainly didn't disappoint in that regard, many felt that The Conduit suffered from dated design mechanics and a generic art style. The original did have a fantastic online mode before hackers and glitchers were able to ruin it, and the weapon selection was nothing short of amazing. Two years later, HVS and Sega have released the sequel to The Conduit, titled simply Conduit 2. Does this new game fix the flaws of its ambitious predecessor, or will it be overshadowed by big name games that released on the same day such as Portal 2 and SOCOM 4?
Conduit 2 takes place literally right after the first game ended. Secret Agent Michael Ford steps into a conduit that teleports him to an oil rig off the eastern coast of Florida. The entire single player experience in Conduit 2 focuses around Ford and Prometheus gathering power into the All Seeing Eye device, until enough is stored up so that they can take on antagonist John Adams. The first Conduit game was set entirely in Washington D.C., and while the reconstruction of some landmarks were very accurate, HVS has ditched the single area setting in Conduit 2, instead opting to go global. Players will travel to a variety of different locales in Conduit 2, including Siberia and South America. The sequel also makes use of a hub world, where Ford is able to switch out weapons and use a conduit to warp to different levels in the game.
The first game took itself pretty seriously, and HVS has done the exact opposite with Conduit 2's story for better or for worse. New voice actors for the game's characters were hired, most notably Jon St. John as Ford's voice over. A lot of the dialogue in the game has a light feeling to it, and it doesn't seem to match up with the subject matter most of the time – aliens and a secret organization are taking over the world, but Ford doesn't seem to be too bothered by it. There are also several Duke Nukem-esque one liners in the game, and they often sound like forced comedy rather than natural comedy. That's not to say none of the one liners are funny, however, as one in particular was hilarious: I shot an enemy from afar – killing it before it could attack back – and Ford piped, "Is that guy's AI broken?"
Conduit 2 doesn't have an amazing art style like Metroid Prime, but the globe-trotting nature of the game definitely helps to remove the "generic" tag the first game had. The frame rate for single player is a smooth 30 frames per second with a few hitches here and there, character models look fantastic, and areas like China and South America have a nice art style to them.
The single player campaign in Conduit 2 had its memorable moments -- such as boss battles -- and the level design benefited greatly from the global setting of the game. Many levels are huge in scope, with many offering branching pathways for players to explore. Enemy encounters are scripted in Conduit 2, whereas in the first game HVS made use of spawn points for enemies, which have a ton of variety in comparison to its predecessor. AI is also very impressive, as enemies will hide behind cover, knock over objects to hide behind, and run away from grenades that are in their vicinity. One particular bit that impressed me was when I threw a radiation grenade at a Drudge – a grenade that slowly saps the enemy's health – the alien actually sprinted toward me in suicidal manner, knowing it was on the verge of death.
Single player missions are riddled with even more hidden objects for players to find than the first game had. Through the use of the ASE's scanning ability, players are able to scan conspiracy objects, wall inscriptions, weapon blueprints, energy containers, and secret documents, all in a Metroid Prime-like way. To fully enjoy the game's single player back story, it's essential to scan every secret document or wall inscription players come across. Conspiracy objects also add a nice touch to the game, as HVS has tied in popular conspiracy theories with their back story. Out of all of the objects players can scan, weapon blueprints are the most useful. If a blueprint is scanned, players will automatically gain that weapon in both single player and multi player – more on that later.
Unfortunately, the single player campaign is a short lived experience. I cruised through the game in a little over four hours on the second to lowest difficulty setting. Players who use a higher setting will surely complete the game in a longer time, but that still doesn't change the fact that the game's ending comes up out of nowhere – the game ended just as I thought the campaign started to get really good. With that said, there are several hidden, optional levels that I have yet to unlock. To unlock extra levels, players have to find and scan hidden coordinate documents found in certain levels. The ending itself was a cliffhanger mixed with a "WTF" moment, so it's safe to say that a Conduit 3 is on the way.
Conduit 2 retains the same fantastic control options that were present in the first game. I felt that the cursor was too fast and the dead zone was too big in the default settings, so I went ahead and adjusted them to my liking. Like the first game, control layouts are completely customizable – I didn't like having to jab with the Wii Remote to use a melee attack, so I moved it to the bottom d-pad button and moved the 180 turn to the Wii Remote jab. I also moved grenades to the plus button and switched the ASE device to a Nunchuck waggle. Those who prefer dual analog controls can opt to use the classic controller instead.
Staying true to the first game, the weapon selection in Conduit 2 is absolutely fantastic. Favorites from the first game have returned, including the SCAR, MP5, Strike Rifle, Hive Canon, and Carbonizer. There is also a cast of new weapons in the game, each with their own special abilities. A few of my favorites were the AR-C Eclipse (a gun that turns the user invisible for a short period of time) and the Dark Star (a heavy weapon that conjures a black hole – yes, a black hole). There's even a sniper rifle that can shoot through walls, and luckily, every weapon is balanced perfectly. All three grenade types from the first game return in Conduit 2, including the always useful radiation grenades.
Where Conduit 2 really shines is in its online multiplayer component. The biggest difference right out of the gate is how streamlined everything is. In the first game, players had to vote on the weapon set that will be used in the given match. In Conduit 2, players are able to customize their own loadouts for both single player and multi player. Weapons can be bought with credits obtained in both online matches and single player scanning, and as I alluded to earlier, any blueprint found in single player will unlock the weapon in multiplayer as well, doing away with the need to purchase the weapon. Upgrades can also be bought for use in both offline and online, giving players a wide range of abilities including increased bullet damage or increased accuracy. The variety of upgrades does extremely well to create weapon specific loadouts that allow players to get the most out of any weapon.
Conduit 2 features 12 online maps to play on, with three maps returning from the first game: Streets, Sanctum, and Pentagon. The new maps stay true to the openness of the single player, giving players plenty of hiding spots and sniper towers. Team game modes are fully featured in Conduit 2, with modes that have players capture control points, transport an ASE device to their respective bases, and kill specific members of the opposing team. One really fun mode, called Power Surge, gives each team a generator that they must protect. Each generator has a shield, but only one is up at any given moment, meaning that when one team's shield is up, the other's is down. The object of the mode is to destroy the opposing team's generator, while communicating with fellow teammates to protect their own.
Some really nice additions were added to the multi player experience, including the ability to revive teammates, obtain medals, and unlock achievements. When a teammate has been killed, they will lay on the ground during the time before respawning is available. During this time frame players are able to revive their teammates, bringing them back to life instantly. Medals are awarded when players do certain things in an online match, such as revive a teammate or go on a kill streak. Medals give players extra EXP after a match, more credits, and all medals are tracked in the stats menu. Achievements are also fully featured in both online and offline, with a whopping 48,000 to unlock.
WiiSpeak has been ditched in order to support PDP's Headbanger Headset, much like Call of Duty: Black Ops did on Wii. Players are able to chat with any teammate during team games or players that are in their vicinity during free for all matches. Players can add their friends through the use of friend codes, but HVS also added a rival system where players are able to view anyone's online profile in the lobby menu (which shows their loadout, character model, EXP, and achievements) and request them to become a rival, which are essentially the same thing as friends.
HVS has also received clearance from Nintendo to issue online patches, just in case hackers and glitchers are able to ruin the fun like they did in the first game. There are some connection issues every now and then online, so here's hoping HVS are able to fix it. They've also hinted at DLC, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.
Conduit 2 has fans of splitscreen multi player covered. Up to four players can engage in competitive matches or cooperatively in Invasion mode. The latter of the two is basically Call of Duty's zombie mode, and for some reason, it's not available to play online.
11/15 - Conduit 2 features a nice soundtrack, but the voice acting is less than desirable.
19/20 - The Conduit was a technical marvel, and Conduit 2 looks even better. Some frame rate issues here and there are a bummer.
22/25 - A short lived single player campaign is really unfortunate; however, Conduit 2 features a multi player component that's better than that of Goldeneye 007 and Black Ops on Wii.
34/40 - Weapons in Conduit 2 are fantastic, and the single player is better due to an increase in scope. Conduit 2 is still a basic shooter, and connection issues for online are a drag, no matter how infrequent they are.
86/100 - Conduit 2 is a much better game than its predecessor in nearly every aspect. It features the best online multi player on Wii and some great visuals, but a short campaign and questionable voice acting and dialogue hurt High Voltage Software's best title to date.