After the hype, then later disappointment by some, over their second completely non-licensed game, The Conduit, High Voltage Software is back with the sequel to the game, Conduit 2. Conduit 2 wasn't as hyped up as the first game was because Sega and High Voltage wanted to be very careful this time around.
With the first game, there were multiple issues to be had. From the lackluster story, to the uninspired level design, to the basic enemy artificial intelligence (AI), and of course, the infamous online multiplayer hacking issue, The Conduit quickly dropped off of people's radars. Fortunately, with Conduit 2, High Voltage Software set out to right all those wrongs, but were they successful? Keep on reading and find out below. Oh, and spoiler alert.
Conduit 2 is the second chapter to an unfinished tale of protagonist, Michael Ford (voiced by Jon St. John). Back in Conduit 1, Michael Ford, a secret agent, saved the President's life when the rest of his security detail bailed out on him. Through this unfortunate event, Ford was lured into joining a secret government agency with its secret "governmenty" yet ironic agency monicker, "The Trust." This agency was run by John Adams. That John Adams, you ask? Well, sort of. This John Adams is kind of like, NOT human. At all. Yet, he looks human, but he's bent on destruction and corrupted by power, and that's where Ford steps in. This is a sci-fi game, you didn't honestly expect the story to be normal did you? We''ll get to more of that later. From there, Ford met Prometheus, who lives in a floating ball. Sounds like a David Blaine stunt, but it is not. This floating ball is called the All Seeing Eye (ASE) and it's some piece of alien equipment that's now home to Prometheus. Together, Ford and Prometheus uncover that John Adams has big plans with his alien posse. Plans that would, ultimately, take over the world. Just when Ford was about to take Adams down, he realizes he's been entrapped by him, and Adams leaves the area safely. We've been on a wild goose chase ever since. Whoever came up with that saying must be insane. Seriously, who chases geese? Conduit 1 ends with Michael Ford going into the conduit that Adams escaped through. Here's where things get cool, though. That point is exactly where Conduit 2 picks up at.
After Ford enters the conduit, he ends up on an oil rig off in the Gulf of Mexico. Strike two for High Voltage Software, by the way. Second time, in a row, they've predicted some shit was going to go down somewhere. From this point on, this is where the chase to John Adams continues. You'll be encountering many different things on this chase too. One thing that players will notice is that Conduit 2 sports cinematic cutscenes, unlike its predecessor. Nothing too crazy goes on in them, but now you actually have something to look at instead of mission briefings at the beginnings of each level. Since mission briefings are gone, and cinematics are in, the story has a lot more weight to it and there's much more to engage yourself in. Events seem to unravel right in your face as they happen rather than inadvertently squealing in a corner by the restrictions of mission briefings. You get a more, get ready for a very cliche word to be used, epic feeling. Oh, you also unleash the power of Andromeda. You're probably like, "That sounds pretty heavy. Getting other galaxies involved." Well, you see, Andromeda is a chick. And for the feminists, a female character. Through your missions in Conduit 2, Prometheus finds out that he's going to need the assistance of an old flame of his. This flame is Andromeda. This flame does not like Prometheus because of some crazy stuff that happened, say, over a thousand years ago. That's many menstrual cycles ready to explode into an angry fit. Well, from this, I guess you can see that the story's a little better than the first game, but still not as good as it could be.
High Voltage Software did some heavy engine optimizations for Conduit 2, and it shows. The graphics show it, the levels show it, and the art style shows it. Graphically, Conduit 2 is one of the better looking Wii titles. To help the visuals, the game can run up to 60 frames per second or even higher. Primarily, Conduit 2 is intended to run at 30 frames, but once you clear out a room, or walk into a room that's empty, the framerate rises up considerably. It looks great, and it feels great. Thanks to the fine tuning of the Quantum 3 engine, level design has seen a substantial boost. The very "corridory" designs of the first game are now almost nonexistent. Areas are much more expansive and there's also many different routes to take to get to one place. Each route has different enemies, if any, spread throughout it, also even secrets to be obtained. You feel a lot more free in Conduit 2 than you did with the first game. As level design changed, so did art style. In Conduit 2, you'll be seeing many different locales. You'll be in a marshy China, a snowy Siberia, a destroyed Washington DC, and a futuristic Atlantis (which is the hub world). Each area sporting its own and totally different art style.
What about enemy AI? Hold on, I'll get to that. Since you've taken the honor into rushing me, I'll get to that right now. Due to engine optimization, enemy AI has seen improvement as well. Depending on the weapon you're using, the weapon they're using, and the area you and they're in, your enemies will make sure they won't go down without a fight. If they're using a low range weapon, your enemies will try to storm you and flank you with quick blasts. If it's the opposite, and YOU have the low range weapon, your enemies will take the liberty to stay as far away from you as they can. As you move forward, they'll tread backward, and as you tread backward, they'll dash forward. If they notice you're aiming at them, they'll dive, roll, and do whatever it takes to make sure they don't get shot. On certain occasions, your enemies will even bring in some of their heavily armored pals to take you down. Now those guys can annoy the hell out of you. They're armed with shotguns and they take quite a bit of fire to die. Like vampires in a Quentin Tarantino film. I know he's never done one, but it's my general assumption they'd be wielding shotguns.
Is single-player campaigning not your thing? That's quite alright, because multiplayer has obviously made its return and its even better than the first Conduit title. To many, Conduit 1's main attraction was its multiplayer, you know, before the hacking issue. With that issue now resolved, Conduit 2 comes along with fantastic online multiplayer. There's 14 game types, each being fun and extremely addictive. My favorite game types are probably Bounty Hunter, ASE Basketball, and Balloon Battle (Mario Kart meets Conduit). Single Flag CTF is still setting in on me. Bounty Hunter is a returning game type from the first game and it's goal is to have each player assigned a target to eliminate. The player who is assigned to hunt you is known as the Hunter. You earn points by killing your target or your hunter. Here's the zinger, you lose points for killing anyone else. Make sure you know who your hunter is, otherwise, you'll be losing points. Some players like to pretend they're someone's hunter so the player they are pretending to hunt shoots and kills them and loses points. It's a pretty nice strategy, just don't over do it. It's a very strategic yet paranoid game type. It's basically an in-game cops and robbers kind of thing. You also have your typical Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag game types.
Conduit 2 also offers an in-game store. You can buy new weapons, grenades, perks, armor, etc all from just one menu. It is a great system, but since you earn credits and level up so slowly in the game, don't expect to be buying much anytime soon. Another downside is the fact that you have to buy different colors. When I saw that I was a little shocked. Colors are something, I believe, should be unlocked from the get-go. If I want to make my guys arms red and his head purple, then gosh darnit I should have the right to do so. The in-game store would be so much better if it were just a little bit more accessible. 3,000 credit points to buy just a color is absurd! A nice thing High Voltage did was give the players the ability to have their online characters carry over to the single player and vice versa. That way, you'll never have to adjust to the differences between single-player and multiplayer. Conduit 2 also sports the rivals system. Instead of trading friend codes, you can also just go to whoever's in the lobby's profile and add them as a rival. You can also see someone's ranks, character model, etc when you're viewing their profile. Since Wii Speak has been discontinued, and Nintendo told all of their developers who want to use voice chat must use the Headbanger headset, well that's what Conduit 2's using. I've never used the headset, but from what I've heard it works great. It's a lot more comfortable knowing your entire house doesn't hear your friends talking about the girl you banged last night and how it felt to you.
Speaking of feeling things, how about those controls. There's really no reason for me to go into the controls. If you played, or even just heard/read about the first game, you would know that the controls are completely customizable. However, High Voltage Software decided, "Hey, we should throw in some Classic Controller support, and even Wii Motion Plus for better controller tracking." The Classic Controller feels great and you can completely customize the controls for the Classic Controller as well. With Wii Motion Plus attached to you're Wii Remote, you'll definitely feel the difference between the Wii Remote with and without Motion Plus. Everything is just much more fluid with Wii Motion Plus attached.
Although the single-player campaign story is still a little vague...and short, the voice overs acting the story out could use some work, and it's really slow leveling up online, Conduit 2 is definitely a first person shooter that needed to be on the Wii.