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Conduit 2: Limited Edition

Score: 80%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sega
Developer: High Voltage Software
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Split-Screen); 2 - 12 (Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Sometimes there are games that are simply hard to write about. Take Conduit 2: Limited Edition for example. Though far from a perfect game, or even a great one, it is still incredibly fun despite its flaws. In fact, you could almost (and that's a stretching almost) make the case that most of the glaring issues are due to the Wii's hardware limitations, not the game itself.

Take the visuals, for example. The original game received a lot of praise for what it was able to do with the Wii's limited hardware. It didn't match what was happening on the HD-side of the gaming spectrum, but at the same time, it showed that talented third parties could easily squeeze something worthwhile out of the system. Conduit 2 completely blows the original away. It still doesn't match the HD stuff, but it's amazing to see just how much detail High Voltage has managed to squeeze out of the system. The surrounding environments now match the already well-designed characters.

One of the few downsides to an otherwise great presentation is character animation. Character movements are a bit stifled and feel too canned in some areas. It feels a bit generic. I also noticed some lip-synching problems, which might exacerbate the awkwardly cheeseball dialogue. I happened to find the one-liners enjoyable, but it tends to push right up against the barriers between "fun" and "annoying," so it is completely a personal call.


Gameplay:

The original left off with a massive cliffhanger, so a sequel was (sales willing) a foregone conclusion. Conduit 2: Limited Edition begins right at the tail end of the original. Michael Ford has destroyed John Adams' race of alien-human hybrids and continues his pursuit of Adams through a series of conduits. This time, Ford meets up with a group of good aliens who also want to stop Adams.

Did I already mention that Conduit 2 tends to push against that fine line between "fun" and "annoying?" In regards to the story, that line is redrawn between "fun" and "B-Film Bad." Again, it's a personal call. For the first hour or so, I had no clue where the game was trying to go and wanted to write it off as another example of a bad sequel. Once I broke through the first section, however, things picked up just enough to keep me engaged. The short campaign length didn't hurt either; based on the ending, I'm sure the series is getting ready to jump clear over the line into "B-Film Bad" territory.

Conduit 2 makes the smart move of restraining story sequences to first-person view. I've always felt this should be mandatory for first-person shooters; it adds something to the story and keeps you in the action without any jarring narrative switches. Now, if we could only do something about the perceived need for mouthy heroes. I enjoyed Ford's dialogue, but would have been happy with less of it. Repetition isn't fun, especially when the voice acting is this bad.

The single-player campaign is short. Even after going back to collect items, I was barely able to squeak out more than ten hours worth of gameplay. It's not a bad number, but most of the time was padded with trying to find hidden objects rather than charging through levels. Compared to the original, levels feel more open, though objectives rarely get any more ambitious than "Get this. Kill That." On the bright side, there are a lot of enemies to shoot and the guns are fun to shoot.

Multiplayer is about as good as it gets on the Wii. Let's be honest, multiplayer is not one of the system's strong suits, making it a low priority for some developers. Conduit 2's multiplayer takes several cues, leading to one of the system's more worthwhile multiplayer experiences. Weapons are fun, you can earn experience and customize your character's loadout... it's a lot of fun. It should be fun to see how the multiplayer community grows in the next few months.


Difficulty:

Conduit 2: Limited Edition's difficulty issues are a combination of poor A.I. and control issues. I'll get into the meat of the control stuff later, though the issues are easy to fix and not as big a problem as it originally seems. Enemy reactions are so bad they're almost comedic. Nearly all subscribe to the "Stand Out in the Open and Shoot" method of attack. They'd be easy to pick off were it not for the sheer number of henchmen.

Conduit 2 tosses in a cover system, which both you and enemies can use. However, it tends to slow combat down rather than add strategy. If enemies didn't immediately enter a death charge, battles would turn into a violent game or whack-a-mole. These instances are made worse by the sometimes inconsistent hit detection. Even if you hit an enemy, they might not react, leaving you unsure of your standing in the battle.


Game Mechanics:

Even though the Wii seems perfect for first-person shooters, the system has had an incredibly hard time actually pulling in something that feels right. There have been a few minor (even playable) victories, though nothing has really jumped out as being particularly worthwhile.

Conduit 2: Limited Edition wrestles with the same issues as other pointer-based FPS's. It's hard to get incredibly accurate shots with the reticule and sometimes even the smallest of movements cause unwanted results. However, several issues melt away when you bring new pieces of hardware into the mix. There's Wii MotionPlus control, which - almost magically - alleviates some of the aiming issues. It's just the right amount of "touch." Gunplay is much more fun with MotionPlus. I still had issues when the reticule got to the edge of the screen, but this is probably an on-going issue with motion-based controls.

Conduit 2 also tosses in Classic Controller support. I enjoyed the motion-based controls, but eventually gravitated to the Classic controls. The pad is, first and foremost, familiar ground, but I also just like the way the controller feels in my hands. It is especially handy in multiplayer.

I really enjoyed the upgrade system, which encourages you to break from the set path and explore levels. Layouts are slightly more open than most corridor shooters (which, unfortunately, most FPS's seem to have become). It's not quite Metroid, but it's better than the norm. Taking the time to find collectables is also valuable to the multiplayer side -- since you earn multiplayer currency with each additional find.

If you're just looking for a FPS on the Wii and have no interest in multiplayer, you probably won't get your money's worth with Conduit 2. It's a fun experience, but it's also incredibly short.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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