Things are happening with the Conduit 2. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what I mean by that. All I can tell you is, if you do your homework and play your cards right, you could see something; something big.
Depending on how squeamish you are, you might not be prepared with what you find. Like a kid who’s turned over a rock to find a nest of centipedes, I was not fully ready to deal with what I uncovered in Conduit 2. Luckily, I had a gun that shot flesh eating flies with me. I may not have been ready to deal, but those flies sure were.
Read on for my full impressions of the Conduit 2.
The guys at High Voltage talk a lot of sh*t about The Conduit. At one point during my recent hands-on with the game, I actually told Eric Nosfinger (Chief Creative Officer on The Conduit and Conduit 2 ) that it sounds like I enjoyed his old game more than he did. Due to a mysterious technical failure with our recording equipment, I can’t give you an exact quote on his response, but I’m pretty sure it was something along the lines of “Of course I don’t hate The Conduit, but it’s not the game I wanted it to be. Not even close.”
The Conduit wasn’t the game I wanted it to be either. I really like parts of it. Its controls, its weapons, and its They Live-style storyline are all great. From there though, it just seemed like High Voltage ran out of time and/or money. Some of the selling points that are pretty much standard in the modern Sci-Fi FPS (huge bosses, in-your-face storytelling, large battlefields) were largely missing, while a lot of the other things that game could do well (enemy variety, advanced texture mapping, voice-acting) it only pulled off some of the time.
All of that seems to be fixed with Conduit 2. It may go on to be known as the Evil Dead 2 of videogames, as it feels like both a sequel and a remake of the original at the same time.
As soon as you boot up the game, you’re treated to a big budget CGI recreation of the last moments of the original Conduit, giving us the climactic ending that the first game should have had. Then you’re dumped onto an oil rig; a cooler looking, more exciting battlefield than just about any place in the original game. That would have been enough for me, but right after that, a giant, laser breathing sea serpent popped up and started destroying everything. This is a boss fight; a real boss fight against a force many times larger than the player, with an old-fashioned health bar an everything. These are the blockbuster videogame moments that I waited for the entire time I was playing Conduit 1. Almost like an apology, Conduit 2 gave me all of that right away. Less than ten minutes in, and I could already tell that Conduit 2 wont be just a sequel. It’s a reparation.
The game has so many additions and improvements, it’s hard to even know where to begin. Just looking at my notes on is overwhelming. First off, High Voltage actually rewrote the way that the Wii outputs sound in order to make the Conduit 2 sound better than any other Wii title. Then there’s the little style tweaks, like the additon of the ever popular “healing factor” health regeneration and universal ammo systems found in many of today’s FPSs. Then there’s the previously reported, but still awesome, news that the game will addition of Wii Motion Plus and Classic Controller support. Then there’s the plan for headset support; a first for a Wii game. Also, the enemies A.I. has been re-written to include multiple new attack and defense maneuvers, there are over 100 different death screams for fallen enemies, there is an entirely new set of voice actors; the list goes on and on.
I wanted to spit those little details out before they got swallowed up by Conduit 2‘s bigger changes and upgrades. For instance, the game’s whole structure has changed. There is now a central hub where you select your missions, create new weapons, and interact with non-playable characters. Mr Ford (the game’s protagonist) is no longer alone in his battle against the secret society of aliens and ex-presidents that are trying to take over the world. Now he’s got a home base, in the middle of Atlantis no less. That’s where he gets help from an attractive, armor clad super model-looking lady who also wants to keep us safe from aliens and politicians. When Hamza Aziz first saw her, he let out an audible “Whoa…”, a sound that the HD loving Halo fanatic rarely makes when checking out a Wii game.
Thanks to the hub zone, we now have the option for non-linear progression. Sometimes you can choose what mission you want to take on next (Mega Man style), while other times you’re given the option to back-track to previous levels. Returning to old places may open up new areas, weapons, and missions. High Voltage is planning on piling on tons of additional content beyond the approximately 12 hour long campaign mode. This isn’t just to give you more bang for your buck. High Voltage’s real goal with this feature, and the game in general, is to make the world of the Conduit feel like a, real, tangible place. In the real world, there is never just one “mission” or just one problem to solve. The same goes for Conduit 2. No matter the situation, there’s always options.
This time, those options will take you all over the world. In my play-through, I got to see a level that takes place in China (complete with creepy alien statues that come to life) that introductory level (with the gigantic, laser breathing sea monster and destructible environments), and Washington D.C. stage (which has become a war zone between aliens and humans, with you caught in the middle). I’m told that’s just a fraction of the new areas that the game has in store.
There are also plenty of new enemies and weapons. One new gun (of alien origin) allows you to shoot some sort of disgusting, airborne alien insects at rapid speeds. Hit someone (or something) with a bug, and that plants a tracer into their body. From there, you can shoot bugs from around corners, crouched under cover, wherever you want, and they’ll home into whatever unlucky thing has that tracer planted in it’s body. It’s an evil, malicious way to take out an opponent, and it’s really fun.
In order to get this new weapon, you have to snag it from the cold, dead hands of an alien. I didn’t catch the name of this particular extra terrestrial, but I do recall that he had the face of a giant spider, and the confidence of a T-1000. I managed to take him out, but only because he was battling some humans at the same time. Of course, after he was down, the humans turned their sights onto me. It was a good thing that I had just picked up a new gun that shoots giant, ravenous alien horseflies. Those poor bastards didn’t know what hit (and then ate) them.
Beneath all of these new features and experiences is an air of unpredictability and mystery. That feeling was present in the first game as well, but it feels much more intense and complete this time around. The ties to real life history have been intensified, the stakes have gotten higher, and the depth of the conspiracies at work is on a scale that wasn’t this clear in the first game. The creators of Conduit 2 know things. There is a reason why they included real life transmissions from The Conet Project in the original game. I wish I could tell you those reasons, but they’d just scramble me if I tried.
There is so much more that I’d like to say about Conduit 2, but I’ve got to bring this to a close. Rest assured, there is more to come. High Voltage collected a notebook full of suggestions from their fans at PAX 2010, and they’re planning on implementing as many of those suggestions as they can before the game comes out early next year.
My suggestion was that they add a 8 bit or 16 bit version of Conduit 2 in the game to unlockable bonus, maybe at an in-game arcade or something. With the addition of huge bosses (complete with life meters), a hub world, and other traits common in classic gaming, it just seemed to fit. High Voltage didn’t promise anything, but they didn’t say no either. That seems to be the High Voltage way. These guys are 100% focused on making their fans happy.
I can’t wait to see how that turns out for them, and for us.