The Wii has always been the most neglected console of this generation, and being a Nintendo forum, thatís no news to us. Third-party developers just donít want to dull-down their graphics and remake their games in order to contort games onto our console. Luckily, the Wii isnít totally void of attention, and it does get a decent amount of quality games. Developers High Voltage Software and SEGA have truly done an act of kindness. They proved to the world that the Wii was capable of big things when it came out with The Conduit. Though by no means a perfect game, it showed developers what to do. Unfortunately, it seems that nobody took that hint and the two teams partnered again in order to give the genre another go.
The story starts directly after the last game left off, with Ford and Promethius trying to hunt down Adams, the leader of a still-mysterious organisation known as The Trust. To do this, youíll travel to various gorgeously-displayed locations around the world, as opposed to the first game, where you spend most of your time in a hallway. If youíve read my review of the first game, youíll know that the originalís plot is filled with government conspiracy theories and itís all very serious. In The Conduit 2, players learn to laugh at the genre, and not in a bad way. The series doesnít take itself seriously anymore, and is able to sit back and laugh at what just happened, like seeing a movie with a comedic friend who feels the need to turn any point of criticism into a joke. In one particularly funny moment, Ford questions why the architecture of the building he's in seems to repeat. Promethius responds that time and money force designers to reuse assets, Ďjust like in video gamesí. The plot is nothing special, but is pushed along at a tolerable and enjoyable pace, and will be a lovely change of pace for gamers who may only own a Wii and are used to the regular mini-game fueled gameplay it commonly offers.
But you didnít play The Conduit to see what the story was like; you played it to see how a FPS works on a Wii, and chances are that you were pleasantly surprised. The gameplay mechanics in the original is what made it shine from the rubble that is the Wiiís third-party library. Fans or at least inquisitors of the original will be pleased to hear that the outstanding controls are back and better than ever, with a little push from both Wii Motion Plus and the option to use the Classic Controller for a more traditional FPS experience. However, it shows that a lot less time was spent on adapting the gameplay for the Classic Controller input method, as some buttons may appear unresponsive at times, and the analogue sticks prove to be far too touchy, even after some tweaking of the sensitivity settings. But the WiiChuck input isnít without its faults. It becomes noticeable when the toddler-like aliens are clawing at your feet, as if youíre one of the bloody Space Wiggles. Youíre forced to punch them out with the Wii Remote while still somehow maintain aim. After weighing the pros and cons of each input, I opted to play with the Wii Remote + Nunchuck control setup.
However, the Classic Controller isnít so bad when considering that the enemy AI donít seem like enemies at all. Sometimes youíll burst into a room, shotgun at the ready, and all the bad guys are just standing there, as if theyíre all playing the ďWho Can Ignore the Man Who Just Burst Into the Room with a Shotgun the LongestĒ game and nobody wants to lose. But that complaint is short-lived, because you may soon arrive at the exact opposite. Often the AI look like theyíre more concerned with practicing for their circus routines than, say, shooting the man who just burst into the room with a shotgun. At random moments, youíll come across highly-trained operatives rolling, tumbling and flipping around the room, even before you start firing. Either way, the enemies mostly donít care that youíre there, and they finally have an excuse to ignore you when you get a gun that makes you invisible. But this all adds to the Ďwe donít take ourselves seriously anymoreí vibe that game gives off, which some would call a charm, and others may call a dodgy excuse.
Like the previous game, confined corridors make up the surroundings of most of your armed conflicts, but the level design in Conduit 2 is actually one of its strengths. Diverse visual design is the most striking element. Each country/level has its own distinct style, and just soaking in each world is a pleasure in its own right. And if youíre ever tired of the traditional ďGo from Corridor A to get to Corridor B by shooting a bunch of heavily armed acrobatsĒ approach, Conduit 2ís levels have a multitude of alternate routes and branching paths, which means you have to put a bit of thought into where you need to go next. There are occasional problems with this open-endedness, such as vital ladders that are almost invisible when in imperfect lighting, but it's generally a success. There are even secrets hidden throughout each stage that give you a nice little reward for your sleuthing. Uncovering conspiracy pieces and blueprints scattered all over the world gives you points that you can spend in multiplayer. It's admittedly more fun to seek out these objects than it is to cash in your earnings, but itís the thought that counts. These hidden items include top-secret documents that shed some light on the complex backstory, but the best of these are as goofy as the main story. For example, you have to smash an aquarium to scan a rare coelacanth. Like me, this may make you giggle as to how the game predicted you were going to smash the tank in the first place. Male instinct, I suppose.
The Conduit 2 has a more structured playtime than the original, which some may say makes the game more predictable. I however found this to make the game more like a game and less like the narrated story split up into unfitting gameplay that the first Conduit was. There are a handful of boss fights in this game that do a great job of implementing some variety. Mostly, youíre aware of what the final boss is going to be within the first few minutes of the level. For instance, in the first level, the oil rig you're scurrying through is being hounded by a monstrous Leviathan, and you can see it breathing fire and gulping down soldiers as you make your way down its many hallways. Of course, the level finishes with you teaming up with the Leviathan and fighting the real enemy: a team of zombie bunnies. Nah, just kidding. Logically, you square off against this colossal foe, and you have to sprint from turret to turret to shoot its weak point and bring it to its metaphorical knees. These boss fights provide memorable moments that stay with you long after youíre done, which is a huge improvement over the immediately forgettable, but still wholly enjoyable events of the first game.
Because I only just bought the game, I still havenít finished the campaign and Iíve clocked in about 8 hours so far. But even after youíve completed the story, you can always go back to search for hidden objects or torment the spectacularly ham-fisted AI. But if you feel like paddling around in some fresh water, there's a hefty amount of online multiplayer aspects as well. Up to 12 players can go head-to-head in action-packed online battles. Being in Australia, I faced some massive difficulty hooking up with regional players, mostly to do with The Conduit having as much of a fanbase as irritable bowel syndrome. And even more unfortunately, the worldwide battles were a real lag-fest. Luckily, Conduit 2ís online mode is much more enjoyable, and although I still have a hard time finding players in my country, global mode is much more accommodating. ACE Basketball is, in my opinion, the best of the included modes, mixing your killing expertise with elusive skills in a thrilling team battle. But as much fun as this is, I canít help but feel like this has all done before. The Conduit 2 wasnít just late to the online party, but by the time it got to the party, the other games had already moved on to the after-party and were passed out after a long night, and itís fortunate for that because all Conduit 2 had to offer to the party was a packet of chips and some Ďfun factsí he had from an App on his iPhone 3G.
There is now a local multiplayer mode, which is fantastic in theory. I always thought that the original didnít have one because the consoleís hardware just couldnít handle it. SEGA and High Voltage Software actually pissed me off for accepting The Conduit the way I did. Not only was it capable of delivering a multiplayer experience, it was able of delivering it well. Better late than never, I suppose, because The Conduit 2 offered everything that The Conduit didnít, and it stands as a solid addition to the Wiiís library; not just third-party. Iím yet to play Call of Duty: Black Ops on Wii, but The Conduit 2 stands as heavy competition for the title ĎBest Shooter on Wiií.