|Dev: High Voltage Software|
|Release: April 19, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p|
What hasn't changed, regrettably, is the lack of feedback to clue you in when things happen in the environment, the unoriginal plot, the stiff, hackneyed dialogue, the strangely abrupt level transitions, and the overall awkwardness of the storytelling. Not that Conduit 2 is unique in failing at these things: it's all too common in the shooter genre for action to supplant narrative. The thing is, in the broadest conceptual sense, Conduit 2 feels lazy. From the boilerplate wise-cracking hero with the game show host voice to the nefarious villain with the evil world-destroying scheme, it all feels pulled directly from a hundred other video games, TV shows, and action movies. Not even the addition of a hot armored babe midway through works to make things feel any fresher. The result is that you don't much care about the characters or the overall story and instead find yourself waiting impatiently through cutscenes so you can start shooting again. Most awkward of the storytelling issues by far is the ending, which surely was meant to be a shock in a clever "Usual Suspects" kind of way, but instead leaves you shaking your head thinking, "Did they really just do that?"
Aside from some poorly handled narrative, the Conduit 2 also falls short is terms of audio. Not only is the voice acting universally more wooden than a two-by-four, the sound effects are sometimes just plain odd. For instance, who would expect when whacking a metal 'bot, to hear a meaty punching sound? The music doesn't do the game any favors either, ranging from some fairly decent plinky asian themes to some truly ridiculous techno/electric guitar pieces that make what should be hardcore unintentionally humorous.
Conduit 2's single player campaign clocks in at a short 5-6 hours, but gameplay can be extended by playing the various multiplayer modes. Upgrades and custom armor can be bought in the multiplayer store with points earned during matches or in the single-player game and players can enjoy either four-player local splitscreen or up to twelve player online play. Splitscreen offers either competitive or survival mode while online multiplayer offers standard capture the flag and deathmatch (with a host of customizable settings) as well as some amusingly goofy games like Balloon Battle, where each player has three balloons hovering over their heads or ASE Basketball, where players compete for possession of a single All-Seeing-Eye and try to throw it through a vertical goal. None of these modes break any real ground, but the matchmaking system seems to work fairly well and the maps are, in general, fairly entertaining.
At this year's Game Developers Conference, it was obvious High Voltage was stoked about the improvements they'd made to their modest shooter, and in many ways, they deserve to be. On the other hand, there's not enough difference between the first and second Conduits to say they've made a true evolutionary breakthrough. Although Conduit 2 has more to offer in terms of environmental variety, it retains much of the original game's narrative unoriginality and awkwardness of presentation. Still, the Wii can't boast much in the way of shooters and so Conduit 2 fills a critical void. Gamers who care about cohesive plotlines may pull an ocular muscle rolling their eyes, but action lovers are sure to enjoy it.
CCC Contributing Writer