“My Nintendo Wii is collecting dust.”
I never knew what that phrase meant until the recent drought that took place, in which the console has gone 5 months since Donkey Kong without any noteworthy release. The Conduit 2, developed by High Voltage Studios and published by Sega, has the entire console’s attention to itself. I enjoyed the original title, so this improved sequel should be a welcome and fresh experience during the gaming absence.
The Conduit 2 is a fun motion-controlled FPS, filling a massive gap in the Wii’s current release schedule, but it’s a game that ultimately feels unremarkable and forgettable.
That’s not to say that it’s a bad game, though. Where the Conduit succeeds is in its refinement of motion controls — which I found to be fun, enjoyable, and the reason for this game existing — and its plethora of multiplayer options. For the game, HVS managed to make motion/pointer controls easier to use than the Classic Controller’s traditional layout, even though that arrangement can be changed to match Call of Duty or Halo nearly identically. It’s definitely more accessible, yet still maintains some “core” features. Locking on to an enemy, for instance, only “locates” them; I still have to point at aliens and gunners with relative accuracy to get a good headshot in. It’s a nicely refined shooting experience with the only controls issue being melee sending the screen into a chaotic spiral. After the first two attempts at the motion I gave up, preferring to shoot enemies at close-range if I needed to.
The Classic Controller felt awkward not because of button layouts (which are completely customizable) or physical controls, but because of the design decisions made within the game. Instead of holding down a button to crouch, the maneuver is either “on” or “off.” That is, with the shifting camera angles, I would sometimes accidentally end up crouched and move at a snail’s pace across a battlefield.
But is it enough to just have a refined motion/pointer shooting experience as a backbone? In this case, it may not.
Granted, High Voltage took a lot of feedback from the fans of the original to heart, allowing for even more customization, better weapons and locales, and even a live patching system – yes, the Wii allows for patches to games, and HVS intends to fully utilize that in cases of cheating or possible improvements (and may need to). The variety of environments is a welcomed addition, with crumbling buildings, battles outside of monuments, lush foliage, sewers, and more. The levels are huge, with plenty of well-placed check points throughout, and the game generally looks good. The lighting in the underground subway portion of the game is a standout, with the WiiMote acting as a flashlight/gun throughout.
It’s a shame, though, that the locations and controls can’t prop up the rest of the single-player experience. The story of the original game was stale, but at least it was leading somewhere; the sequel focuses on goose chase island-hopping, poorly executed comedic interplay and a generally uninteresting plot. It picks up right where the original left off, and abruptly ends in much the same way. The Conduit 2 is trying to be a sort of “Halo-Lite” with some Duke Nuke’em thrown in, and I guess it succeeds in that it seems to be catering to a gamer that is just getting into serious FPS games. That, incidentally, might be perfect for the new Wii gamer, but not for those of us who have been playing Bulletstorm or Black Ops... or any other FPS in the last 3 years.
The game does incorporate some solid, fun multiplayer. It capitalizes on the great controls and adds in several worthwhile play modes, both online and split-screen. The split-screen mode, Invasion, is played with all four players on a team against wave after wave of invading Drudge, the main alien enemy of the game. Players can revive each other, but left alone long enough and they permanently die, with the game ending when the last player is killed. I found this mode, although a fun addition, to be frustrating on a smaller screen using the pointer. I found myself over-aiming and my pointer disappearing off of the screen often.
Save for a few bugs, the online multiplayer is pretty seamless. The standard Capture-the-Flag and Team Deathmatch modes are there, as is Bounty Hunter, in which each player is asked to take out one specific target each. Call of Duty-style perks are included, as are improved levels and the purchasing/modification of weapons. With up to 12-player matches taking place on large playing fields, and using the pointer controls, I never feel like I’m overmatched. Again, the accessibility is aimed towards gamers who may be relatively new to FPS games.
But, it still feels like a generation or two behind other FPS games in terms of originality and longevity. Even Goldeneye, a re-make of a game more than a decade old, feels more ambitious than Conduit 2. It’s unfortunate that the game feels like Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls: it’s what the original Conduit should have been, but still doesn’t feel like the optimal experience.
It’s one of the last big games for the Wii, but may already be too late.
Who should buy/play this:
New or young Wii owners who are looking to fill their cabinet with a good variety of games.
This review of The Conduit 2 is based on a copy of the game provided to the Editor by Sega. The game was completed on Guarded (Normal) mode, and at least one match on all multiplayer modes were played.