A game that has 'WTF' moments, but not in the way you might expect.
Review written by
April 19th, 2011
With The Conduit, High Voltage Software set out to do the improbable, and create a successful core shooter game for the Wii. While the game wasn't a huge success, it nonetheless wasn't a failure either, and with at least a quarter of a million copies sold, managed to break even for publisher Sega. Now High Voltage is hoping to do even better with the newly named Conduit 2. Unfortunately, High Voltage may have been trying a little too hard to ape the business tycoons at Activision and their enormously successful Call of Duty franchise, as Conduit 2 feels cheap, generic and rushed, despite being delayed several times.
Once again, Conduit 2 puts campaign players into the role of former Secret Service agent and member of the notorious Trust, Michael Ford. After initially stopping the mysterious leader of The Trust, John Adams, Ford is out for Adam's blood and is determined to stop his plans at any cost. Along with Ford is the consciousness of his alien companion, a 'Progenitor' known as Prometheus. The game becomes a race against time to stop Adams and gain the powers of other Progenitor aliens already on Earth with the help of a newly awakened guardian of Atlantis, a human woman named Andromeda.
In early press interviews and previews, High Voltage claimed that they were trying to tell a more detailed and better story in Conduit 2 than the Dan Brown style conspiracy story in The Conduit. Unfortunately, the game and characters suffer because of a focus on the 'gritty sci-fi' that Halo has made popular. Every element of Conduit 2's story feels generic and done before, from a central Conduit in Atlantis (Stargate), to an AI companion and set of super powerful armor (Halo) to warring aliens who give you prophetic nicknames. With the possible exception of Prometheus, none of the characters are likable, not even Ford, who one would think the player could understand and grow close to. However, Ford is made into a terrible mishmash of Nathan Drake's irritating quips, and Duke Nukem's refusal to take fighting aliens seriously. Ironically, the developers seem to revel in this, as Ford's voice actor Mark Sheppard has been replaced by Jon St. Jon, the previous and upcoming voice of Duke Nukem himself. As if these problems weren't enough, the ending is so ridiculous that it feels like High Voltage nicked a few members of the old Timesplitters team from Crytek and is one of the few game endings that one could call stupid. If the game was intended to be a parody of the first person shooter genre and the popularity of Halo, it's succeeded on all fronts. If High Voltage is trying to get players to take the game seriously however, only multiplayer can hope to succeed.
Luckily, the gameplay does fare better, though there are a few issues. Like most FPS games, the premise of single player is to make it to the end of various levels, fighting robots, humans, the alien Drudge and occasionally a boss. High Voltage seems to have taken some inspiration from both Halo and Perfect Dark, as there are both human and alien weapons in equal amounts, with most weapons unique from each other. There's the standard pistol, grenades, shotgun, rifle, etc., but there are also alien barb cannons, laser charge rifles, and the Phase Rifle, which allows players to shoot enemies through walls, just like the Farsight in Perfect Dark. The motion and regular controls work great, and can be customized to the player's liking however they wish, with Wii remote, MotionPlus and Classic Controller options all allowed, with the unfortunate exclusion of Gamecube controller support. It is likely however that you'll want to stick with the remote, as precision aiming is made much easier with motion controls. There are five difficulty settings in single-player, each of which adds enemies and increases the difficulty and in some cases adds new levels not available in easier difficulties. For the most part, single player is pretty fun, but there are some gripes; first off, the game features no beginning tutorial and instead only gives a short, hard to see instructional video. Also, the game is really short, even for a FPS campaign. Though the game has quite a few fun bosses to fight, you'll probably finish the game within four hours at most. Luckily, there is multiplayer.
Multiplayer in Conduit 2 is truthfully nothing new or special, but it is probably the best online multiplayer game on the Wii. Like in Call of Duty, players start out as a low 'leveled' character. By engaging in multiplayer matches and by earning medals through various actions during said matches, players earn experience points. After gaining levels, players can get new weapons, armor, helmets, characters and abilities to use against other players. Custom matches are available, but there are two issues with them; specifically, there are not enough players at present for more specific multiplayer matches and unlike other games, there isn't an option to adjust matches based on player skill. If you wish to play multiplayer be prepared to get killed a lot, unless you're a hardened veteran from the original Conduit. Also, friend codes are still needed for closed multiplayer matches, though this isn't necessary for just quick matches or offline split screen. Conduit 2 features a few kinds of matches unique to this series, such as Bounty Hunter in which players only earn points by killing assigned 'predators' and 'prey'. Other than select few matches like this however, most of the match types are taken straight from other games. This includes an exclusive splitscreen mode exactly similar to the 'Horde' mode originated in Gears of War, so most of the multiplayer is good and well made, but it has mostly been done before and better. The game does feature extras that players can unlock, but comparing Conduit 2's costumes and small extras to say Zombie Nazi modes just shows how much of a gap there is in production values between it and other titles.
The graphic quality will vary depending on a player's expectations for the title. It's a nice looking game for the Wii considering the huge amount of things going on for the online modes, but it is hard to deny that the Conduit series does not look very good even compared to the earliest PS3 and XBox360 titles. There are frequent jagged edges, character models look almost N64-like at times, and there are frequent clipping and pop-up issues. Also, the art direction feels not 'inspired by' but outright copied from Halo, Metroid, Mass Effect, and just about any other modern Sci-Fi game one could think of, including Too Human. In addition, the single player mode experiences frequent slowdown, and it can be very distracting when in the middle of a firefight. Surprisingly, this isn't an issue at all in Multiplayer, even with twelve other players online. Though there do appear to be some players who have already managed to hack the system for exploits, Conduit 2 itself is largely lag free.
The music is quite good and works to create an ambient mood, but isn't that memorable, which is equally true for the sound effects. The voices are at least done decently, which makes it a shame that the script is so terrible. Riddled with smarmy quips for Ford and sci-fi cliches for everyone else, the game's 'acting' feels almost like a B-movie, which isn't a good thing. Voice chat is available in multiplayer, but not through Wii Speak, as Nintendo asked High Voltage not to support the peripheral. Instead, the Headbanger Chat Headset by pdp.com has been chosen to work with the game and is even endorsed on the back of the instruction manual. The Headset isn't the best of its kind on the market, but it certainly is a better solution than Wii Speak and works well for Conduit 2.
Conduit 2 is a game that seems to have a slight identity crisis. On the one hand, its single player campaign is short, riddled with cliches and feels like the game equivalent of a B-movie, complete with hackneyed acting. On the other hand, the multiplayer is well constructed, lag free, and has the potential to be a lot of fun if there are enough players to support it. Like most FPS titles, the emphasis is on multiplayer, so if you only own a Wii console and want to get your Deathmatch on, it's a good title. Otherwise, there are far better and cheaper alternatives for any other current console or PC.
HVSTaco: When I first laid eyes upon Conduit 3 on the new Wii 2, which is coming out in December 2011, I had only 1... read more
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