In 2009, Sega released The Conduit for the sadly FPS starved Nintendo Wii. The much hyped game fell short of the lofty goals set forward by its developer High Voltage Software, but did set the grounds for what could be a great franchise (with an honestly less-than-great name). After blasting my way through The Conduit, I was happy with the game. Yes, the narrow corridors were annoying and the talking heads cut scenes were a poor idea even in the PSOne era, but I liked the story that was established and I really appreciated that game focused in the Washington D.C./New England area. The setting was my favorite part of the game and set the stage for some memorable battles (like shooting up the Library of Congress or the battle at the Jefferson Memorial).
With Conduit 2, HVS is moving out of America and sending protagonist Michael Ford around the world. I was able to get in about two hours a playtime today and have already found things I really like with the game, and one that is really starting to get on my nerves. If you’ve been following the pre-launch to the game at all, you know by now that the first level in the game is on the oil rig.
Hold on, I’m jumping ahead of myself.
The first thing you see is a cut scene. And I mean a real cut scene. CGI and everything. It is two steps ahead of anything we saw in the last game, and thank god for that.
Anyway, there are plenty of videos on YouTube of the oil rig level, so if you’ve been following the pre-launch hype you know what to expect. Your character is running around the rig looking for Adams as a giant leviathan attacks it. The level is put together perfectly, and after running around it you really do feel like you’re on an oil rig. The actual graphics in this particular level look great, but nothing is really breathtaking. Some of the effects look cheap (like explosions), but overall HVS really stepped up their game on this one.
The second level (Atlantis) isn’t nearly as good looking. It’s mostly dark with annoying shiny enemies. The enemies, which are a security system for the ship, present the biggest problem I have with the game so far. These robots and some of the Drudge aliens, come at you in swarms. It’s annoying as hell. Clearly meant to be rip-offs of the Flood from Halo, these Drudge creatures hack and slash you to death leading to some very cheap kills.
As the second level comes to an end, the story, which was still good up until that point, takes a turn towards crap. First, Ford is given a new, dull, boring, “seen it in every other sci-fi themed FPS” suit (the one you see on the games cover) and then he meets Andromeda. Clearly meant to make up for the lack of females in the first game, so far the only thing Andromeda does is something that could have easily been done by Prometheus, who returns from the first game (although here, he’s more like that damned owl in Ocarina of Time than “patient zero” of the Drudge alien race). I hope her character, Andromeda, will develop into something relevant, but I’m not counting on it. During this scene at the end of level two, you are also given a sneak peak at Michael Ford’s personality, something that was lacking in the first one. So far, he’s a douche bag.
Level 3, which in my two hours of playing I wasn’t able to complete yet (thank you very much ankle biting Drudge), puts Ford back in Washington D.C. So far, it’s easily my favorite level in the game, even if some of the assets in it are copy and pasted from the first game. The enemies are more varied, the action is tighter and the level layout is, again, leaps and bounds above anything done in the first game. So far, the only thing that has bothered me about this level is a story point midway through. Time will tell how it pans out.
The controls, which were one of the big selling points of the first game, are improved in this game. It may take a few minutes to find your sweet spot with the Wii-Mote (for me, that was slower than usual turning), but once you do the game really begins to shine. In fact, when I switched to the Classic Controller Pro for the second level and immediately had to switch back because the Wii-Mote was so much better. WiiMotion+ is supported in the game, but I haven’t used it yet.
Two hours in, I really like what I am playing. The story is not as good, but it’s being told more thoughtfully. The controls and graphics are fantastic and the enemies put up a good fight (sometimes too good of a fight). I can’t wait to get more time in with this game and see where Ford heads next.