Conduit 2 Review + HVS Skype Interview
A NintendoFuse game review by Jeremy Hardin.
Game – Conduit 2
Version – Wii
Time Spent Playing – 8 hours single player / 10 hours multi-player
Obtained – Review Copy courtesy of Sega
As many Wii owners may attest to, decent FPS’s are hard to find in the Wii library. The team over at High Voltage Software recognized this problem and decided to address it back in 2009 with their original IP, The Conduit. Unfortunately, the game was overhyped and didn’t quite deliver as hoped. However, the potential was there. I had fun with the game, but was left wanting more. Thankfully, HVS listened to their fans, realized their mistakes, and came back stronger than before in Conduit 2. The question remains, just how well did HVS do this time around?
For those not familiar with the series, I am including the story to The Conduit, followed by the story to Conduit 2. All of this information is taken directly from the games Wikipedia pages.
The Conduit takes place in the near future, as Washington, D.C. is shaken by several unusual and tragic incidents. A mysterious flu-like disease known as “the Bug” has swept across the region through local water sources, resulting in high-security locations being left understaffed as government workers are afflicted. Months after the initial outbreak, an alleged terrorist attack destroys part of the Washington Monument, and on September 11, a senator is killed by another terrorist cell reportedly disguised as members of her staff, greatly heightening local and national tensions. Most alarmingly, an assassination attempt on the President of the United States occurs only weeks after the previous attacks, carried out by the president’s own Secret Service detail. In the midst of these events, Agent Michael Ford must overcome the onslaught of the alien Drudge and the humans under the Drudge’s control, and defeat the masterminds behind the invasion.
The Conduit’s protagonist is Agent Michael Ford, a Secret Service agent who is inducted into the Trust after saving U.S. President Charles Thompson during an assassination attempt. John Adams is the enigmatic commander of the Trust who sends Agent Ford into Washington, D.C. to combat a rising terrorist threat and recover stolen Trust technology; he is later set up as the game’s central antagonist. Prometheus is introduced as the terrorist leader, but becomes the sole supporting character and assists Ford’s efforts against the Drudge.1
In Conduit 2 all characters from the previous game will be returning, as well as new characters being introduced. The original enemies, the DNA-created Drudge, will also be returning, along with new enemies. The backstory for the game is told primarily through scan-able conspiracy objects scattered throughout the game. Conduit 2’s backstory relies heavily on Sumerian mythology and the Annunaki conspiracy, a conspiracy theory that the Annunaki, a group of Sumerian deities, were actually extraterrestrials who used humans as slaves and entertainment. The progenitors fill this role in Conduit 2, serving as a basis for the Annunaki deities and having since scattered themselves across the world, secretly controlling and influencing the governments and people of their respective areas. References are also made to Tiamat and the Deluge myth. In addition, Conduit 2 incorporates other conspiracies such as the Dropa stones, Tunguska event, and disappearance of Col. Percy Fawcett.
The game starts immediately after the events of the first game, with Michael Ford following John Adams through a conduit. Ford finds himself on an offshore oil rig located in the Bermuda triangle and he catches up with Adams, who has arrived full circle at the derrick’s conduit. Adams escapes through the conduit shortly before it is destroyed by a massive leviathan. Prometheus is able to have the leviathan hone in the ASE, which results in it swallowing Ford and regurgitating him beneath the sea in Atlantis, an alien spacecraft that was used by Adams, Prometheus, and their siblings to arrive on Earth. Ford soon gains the destroyer exoskeleton suit, and awakens a woman named Andromeda from cryostasis. She reveals that her purpose is to aid The Destroyer, who Ford has become after acquiring the destroyer armor.
Gameplay and Controls
In terms of content, there is much to be experienced in Conduit 2 – between the single player campaign maxing out at around 8 hours, local split-screen co-op, and a robust online multiplayer – enough that you will spend many hours playing through it all.
First up, Conduit 2’s single player campaign is longer this time around, which is, always a plus. Your goal in the campaign mode is to stop the antagonist John Adams from taking over the earth. It’s a balanced mix of science fiction storytelling. Propelling the game is all the action, and the stockpile of weapons. There are three classes of weapons you will have access to, just not all at once. There are the Human, Trust, and Drudge weaponry. My personal favorites are the Human and Trust. However, each class has its own strengths and weaknesses. Plus, I like the organic look and sound of the Drudge weaponry. The ASE has returned, but with some minor improvements, it now functions more as a detective device rather than a puzzle solver. For those who don’t know, the ASE stands for the All Seeing Eye, which is a prototype developed by the Trust in The Conduit. Prometheus is still contained within the ASE and assists Michael Ford throughout the game.
I mentioned before that HVS listened to the fans and made some improvements. From the moment you start off on the oil rig chasing after John Adams, you will notice the changes. Whether it’s the shimmering rain pouring down all around, or the rolling waves of the sea down below, excellent lighting effects, and more, HVS has upped the ante with improved visuals. The AI at times can be a little dense, but overall the difficulty impressed and challenged me.
Upon completion of the oil derrick, you gain access to the underwater hub city of Atlantis. Once you activate the conduit inside, you can continue to pursue Adams across the globe and attempt to stop his plan for world domination. Before you start each level, you have the option to customize your weapon load-out and also your armor. This is a much needed addition which enhances the gameplay even further. Scattered throughout each level are weapon designs, which upon scanning with the ASE, will unlock them for use via Atlantis.
The controls which were a high point of The Conduit, have returned as good as ever in Conduit 2. Players have many options available to customize their control schemes that it may take some time for you to get everything just right. In addition, players can now use the Classic Controller Pro and Wii Motion Plus, if so desired. HVS has done a magnificent job of creating such a depth of control customization. It will be quite difficult to find controls as fine tuned as these on any non PC game.
Visuals and Sound
Developed on the Quantum 3 Engine, which is capable of providing lighting, mapping, and depth-of-field effects, the graphics of Conduit 2 are noticeably better than The Conduit. The effects when reloading your gun, the detail on the guns themselves, even the levels, have all been improved graphically. For me, the effects are where the graphics really shine, such as the depth-of-field.
Not only have the graphics been improved, but level design has been opened up. This will appeal to all those who remember The Conduit’s level design, which was too linear. Plus, you are no longer limited to just Washington D.C. This time, your mission spans the globe. We’re talking China, Siberia, off the coast of Florida, and more.
The dialog is cheesy, (some of it seems straight from a B movie) but HVS did a great job casting Jon St. John (a.k.a. Duke Nukem) to voice Michael Ford and make the dialog all the more entertaining. However, not all the voice over work was a success for me, specifically the Drudge. There was an instance where I happened upon an injured Drudge ally and a cut scene progressed. After listening to the voice of that Drudge, when I regained control, I wanted to end him myself. If you have ever seen Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail and can recall the “I’m not dead yet” scene, that’s the stuff I was thinking of. Check it out here – I’m not dead yet!
Moving on, the sound effects are great, especially the Drudge weaponry, each of which has an organic sound effect as you fire and reload. It’s oddly satisfying to hear squishing sounds as you jam your hand into to the Hive Cannon. All the weaponry sounds great and feels very connected.
I play with the subtitles on, wearing headphones. I noticed some issues with the voice overs, where in certain cut scenes, subtitles were displayed, but no audio was playing. I could even see the characters lips moving. Obviously I’m not a game developer, so I don’t know how tough it is to sync up audio with the character lips moving, but it seems inexcusable. This really drew me out of the experience.
Concluding Overall Impressions
Though the game still has some flaws, almost every issue from The Conduit has been addressed in Conduit 2. Taking into account the new levels with their opened up layout, improved graphics, epic boss fights, hidden collectibles, 4 player local co-op and robust multi-player, there is a lot to keep you entertained and challenged for some time.
Final Score: 4 out of 5
Check out my interview w/ Keith Hladik and David Pellas of High Voltage Software!