Why are we posting a review to a game that came out over 2 weeks ago? Well, we never received an early review build of Conduit 2, which pushed back this review and made me wonder whether it was a deliberate attempt to delay bad press for a game they know is garbage. The truth is, however, that Conduit 2 is actually pretty enjoyable, and an improvement over High Voltage’s predecessor.
Let’s get this straight: Conduit 2 is far from a great game. In fact, I hated it for the first hour or so…that is until I switched to the Wii Classic Controller, which makes a tremendous difference. Despite some tweaks to the controls of the previous game (in the options menu, you can adjust everything from sensitivity to turning speed), I still feel like the Wii Remote just isn’t made for the precise aiming and quick decision-making an FPS demands.
At the beginning of the campaign, I died an absurd number of times because I either (a) couldn’t manage to point the reticule anywhere near an enemy, or (b) lost the reticule entirely while pointing off-screen to turn around, which causes you to spin in circles facing the wrong direction. And Conduit 2 is virtually unplayable online unless you have exceptional skills with the Wii Remote. Thankfully the Classic Controller remedies the problematic controls by allowing you to play with more traditional FPS controls.
The sequel’s story picks up immediately after the conclusion of The Conduit. At the end of that game, Special Agent Michael Ford destroyed the last of John Adams’ nasty race of bioengineered alien-human hybrids, and escaped through...a conduit. At the beginning of the new game you discover that it spits Ford out onto an oil derrick in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle, which is home to Trust scientists, soldiers, and a massive Leviathan - the mythical sea beast is credited as the source of all the missing ships and planes traveling through the cursed waters.
Once you bring down the Leviathan with bullets and harpoons, the fabled beast swallows you whole with its last bit of energy and then vomits you up in the lost city of Atlantis. The campaign gets progressively wackier from this point on. You meet Andromeda, who looks like an aluminum foil-wrapped hooker from Flash Gordon, and have to endure the protagonist’s one-liner mental diarrhea (example: “I’m a killionaire!”) There’s even a slimy organic gun that fires bugs that you load by feeding it a big egg.
Conduit 2’s storytelling - and dialogue in particular - is immensely cheesy, which might sound like I’m knocking it, but it’s actually what I like the most about the game. If you accept it as intentionally silly sci-fi schlock, Conduit 2 is fun. The flavour of the game isn’t for everyone, though, especially if you prefer a game with a solid story.
Aside from the delightfully hammy single-player campaign, Conduit 2 also features online and local multiplayer support. Up to four players can play against each other in split-screen or work together to mow down waves of enemies in Invasion, Conduit 2’s answer to Gears of War’s popular Horde/Beast modes.
All the essential elements are here: deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, a ranking system, etc., but overall its multiplayer is basic. It still offers some enjoyment as long as you’re not expecting an experience as polished and sophisticated as what you’d find in games like Call of Duty or Halo. Conduit 2’s matchmaking also works extremely well, making it surprisingly easy to quickly jump into a game, which is something you don’t often find on Wii.
Being average in most ways is Conduit 2’s biggest offence, and the visuals, while colorful, are a bit of an eyesore. Even on an expensive HDTV, Conduit 2 almost feels like you’re playing Crysis 2 viewed through a pair of one-inch-thick prescription glasses. This is, of course, partially a testament to the limitations of the Wii hardware, but it’s really hard to not notice how crusty the game looks when you can’t spot a ladder or pathway you need to use because they blend into your low-res surroundings.
High Voltage’s shooter sequel is certainly not a vast improvement over The Conduit, but its campy campaign and decent multiplayer is enough to make Conduit 2 worth recommending to fans of the first game. And if you’re a fan of shooters who’s willing to look past the game’s many flaws, you might want to give the game a chance.