Building A Better Game
The Conduit might have generated some mixed reviews when it was released back in the summer of 2009, but there is no denying the fact that the game was quite an ambitious project. High Voltage Software (HVS) was the only company with enough balls to create an original First Person Shooter exclusive to the Wii. With the goal of creating a definitive Wii experience, HVS pushed the Nintendo WiFi Connection to new heights with a hefty emphasis on online multiplayer, offered the player an unprecedented amount of customizable controls, and made maximum use of the Wii hardware and unique controller. At the very least, The Conduit gave hardcore Wii owners something to get excited about.
On a cold winter day in mid-January 2011, High Voltage Software invited me to their headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois for some hands on time with Conduit 2. The biggest complaints with the original Conduit were the linear level designs, the hackable online multiplayer, and a more simplistic story in a simple environment. After spending a couple hours with the game, Conduit 2 has not only made improvements to these categories, but they exceeded my expectations.
Conduit 2 has a brand new shiny coat of paint that has covered all of the game’s presentation values. Enemies, weapons, and the cinematic qualities have not only improved, but the plotline, which has been spiced up with a touch of humor, will take the player all around the world. Unlike the more structured Washington D.C. environments of the first game, the player will be exploring larger outdoor locations. You even play through mythological lands like the lost city of Atlantis; there is just something cool about fighting aliens in an ancient and long lost environment.
This sequel takes place literally minutes after the closing of the first title, something fans are sure to appreciate. But unlike the linear stage design of the first game (finishing level 1 unlocks level 2), Conduit 2 utilizes a new HUB-based mission structure. Without giving away spoilers, the player uses an unheard of method of travel to reach an underground world after the conclusion of the first stage. Here, the player will eventually activate parts of the world to reach new areas, somewhat similar to the castle in Mario 64. While the game is not an open world sandbox title, the player now has more options when moving through the 10-15 hour campaign.
The game’s campaign mode is strictly a solo player outing but many new features were added to create a true sequel, instead of Conduit 1.5. For example, the ability to sprint not only introduces a new way to move around the environment but also adds to the cinematic qualities to the game as the player might have to dash through flames to avoid fire or need some extra speed when making a longer jump. The campaign will also support five different difficulty settings, each with tweaked AI. But no matter the selected difficulty, enemies move and think with better behaviors. It isn’t uncommon to watch a baddie dive from a grenade or have an alien flank you from around a corner or kick over a desk to find cover.
The first stage of the game does its job of grabbing the player’s attention by the testicles. Set in an off-shore water rig, a laser spewing Leviathan constantly torments the player until the stage’s rainy boss fight conclusion. This stage acts as the game’s tutorial as button prompts pop up during the opening segments to get the player familiar with the control scheme. But it also introduces the player to one of the bigger additions to this sequel – boss fights. Although High Voltage would not give me an exact number of boss fights in the game to prevent spoilers, it seems that one will appear every so often to even out the game’s pacing, something that was somewhat lacking in the original title.
Although there are no drivable vehicles in the game, the game’s armory has received quite an upgrade to give players new options. Using a mix of both human and alien based weaponry, the player is going to have even more options available in regards to taking down foes; many weapons also have secondary fire options. One new weapon will never run out of ammo but uses a heating/cooling system to keep the weapon from being too overpowered. By shooting this gun in rapid succession, it will cause the gun to overheat. However, this added heat can be used to your advantage as it will reward users with longer invisibility time. Just don’t abuse this invisibility option or you will have to chip away the ice build-up from tip of the gun. Another gun is used like a shield, absorbing bullets until the player releases them District 9-style. New grenades and the ability to look down the sight of a gun also add more strategic elements to gameplay. For example, frag grenades have their obvious use, but you might want to consider going with flash bangs as they disrupt the cloaking devices of all enemies. The developers took the extra time to balance out all aspects of combat.
Speaking of balancing combat, Conduit 2 uses a new currency system which can be used in both the single player campaign and in multiplayer. Basically, doing things in single player, like completing missions or finding hidden objects (one of which is a nice Easter egg referencing a cult classic Sega game during the first stage), or racking up kills in online multiplayer will earn currency. This currency can then be spent on different loadout perks like being able to sprint for longer periods of time, causing more damage with energy weapons, dishing out dizzying melee attacks, or being able to take a little more damage. While this system might sound familiar to recent Call of Duty titles, Conduit 2 gives this system more balance as new comers to online deathmatches have a much better chance at survival since many of the game’s perks can become unlocked even before a single multiplayer match is completed. For example, if you play Call of Duty: Black Ops, level 1 players are not only at a disadvantage because they do not know the layout of the maps, but they do not have access to perks that the level 40 players have. Basically, the CoD perk system has the ability to totally pwn n00bs without mercy. Conduit 2 brings balance to this system by allowing the player to unlock new weapons and loadouts by playing the single player campaign. These unlockable features can then be used during the single player campaign and taken online.
Just like the first title, Conduit 2 has a control scheme for everybody. Whether using the original Wii remote and nunchuk or the new Classic Controller option (Gamecube controllers are not supported), just about every feature is customizable. Want to change all your buttons to a unique configuration? No problem. Want to decrease the movement speed of the X or Y axis? Go right ahead. This might sound like a “so-what” bullet point, but players will be hard pressed to find a game with this many customization options. Even creating your own multiplayer avatar is loaded with options.
Conduit 2 is also going to make full use of the new Wii headset. Nintendo has actually phased out their Wii Speak peripheral for the more user friendly and much more personable USB headset, and High Voltage Software will be taking full advantage of it. You of course will be able to talk to your friends if Friend Codes are registered, but players will also have the ability to chat with everyone in the lobby-after screen, which also makes use of their Rival system – a more convenient way to compete with worthy opponents.
The original Conduit lost some staying power due to hackers and having more straightforward multiplayer gameplay. Conduit 2 has upped the multiplayer ante in many different ways. First, 1-4 players can play local competitive. Every multiplayer mode, and there are even more this time around, is playable via splitscreen. Additionally, the game now includes a cooperative Invasion mode which is essentially a Gears of War Horde Mode or Halo’s FireFight. Choosing from three different stages and dozens of waves and options, Invasion mode is nice new addition to fulfill gamers’ need for cooperative play. Reviving downed players, working together to defeat bigger baddies, and using flanking tactics to find the troublesome and cowardly healer enemies are critical for survival.
Online multiplayer will support up to 12 players at once, just like the original. Of course there will be the standard Free-For-All and Team Deathmatch, but new Objective based matches have also been introduced. Borrowing a mode from a popular kart-racing title, Balloon mode gives each player three-balloons above your head. Each time you are defeated, you will lose a balloon. Once all three have been popped, the player turns into a controllable bomb to stop the remaining players, preventing downtime. This is just one of many Objective based modes to choose from.
Because the Wii does not have the luxury to auto update like Xbox Live connected games, keeping hackers at bay might be difficult. However, the developers have found a way to prevent online cheating by integrating an authorizing system that performs necessary scans each time the game is logged into Nintendo WiFi Connection. Combined with a more balanced perk system, it would not be surprising if Conduit 2 multiplayer matches are still played years from now.
As another extra incentive to play through everything the game has to offer, there is a built-in Achievement system. Taking a note from the 360 and PS3, each time an Achievement is unlocked, a little check mark icon pops up informing the player which task was just completed as opposed to viewing all unlockables solely through the main menu system.
It is also important to note that the Wii Motion Plus adapter is compatible with Conduit 2, but not necessary. And I received confirmation from the developers that using the Motion Plus is not going to provide an advantage in competitive multiplayer as the Motion Plus technology simply allows the game to keep track of the Wii remote’s IR sensor when it travels off screen. So instead of saying that Motion Plus will provide an advantage, it is more accurate to say that it will provide a “different” control option which might work a little easier for users who are not yet familiar with the Wii remote and nunchuk controllers.
The musical score in this sequel is also taken very seriously. The intense tunes match the gameplay and unique sound effects accompany every weapon in the game, some emitting from the Wii remote’s speaker. But some fans might be disappointed to learn that Kevin Sorbo isn’t making a return. However, the dude who does the Duke Nukem voice has a pretty substantial role in Conduit 2 which pretty much guarantees a top notch voice-over performance.
Conduit 2 is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated Wii games of 2011, and rightfully so. Originally, the game was supposed to be released in later 2010, but the developers at High Voltage Software wanted to take a few more months to really shine up that extra coat of polish, and it really shows. It is extremely rare to see a third-party Wii exclusive be taken so seriously and developed with so much care and thought. Now that the Wii is over half a decade old and rumors of the announcement of the Wii 2 are wildly swirling about, Conduit 2 could be one of the last, if not THE last, exclusive FPS on Wii. If this holds true, the Wii FPS genre will be going out with a bang.
Stay with MyGamer for our full review of Conduit 2 shortly after the game’s launch in mid February 2011.
By: Zachary Gasiorowski
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