Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: The Conduit 2

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Rating: 5.0/5 (5 votes cast)

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            When Nintendo’s Wii made its first playable outing at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) back in 2006, many of the journalists on hand were wowed by the technical demonstration of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, citing the system as a perfect home for First-Person Shooter (FPS) games. And while Electronic Theatre was including in that opinion, such possibilities were never capitalised on, and Wii remains without its FPS killer app five years later.

            Aside from the early release of Nintendo’s own Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, it’s High Voltage Software that offered the most high-profile Wii FPS release since launch with The Conduit. At a time when the Wii console’s software library was looking increasing uncomfortable for the core demographic, SEGA and High Voltage Software partnered to release an FPS that was enjoyable, but ultimately flawedElectronic Theatre Image and lacking in technical prowess. It was a game that lived-and-died on it’s control system, and following some of the genre’s biggest names on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 The Conduit simply didn’t have what it takes to compete. That didn’t deter High Voltage Software however, coming to The Conduit 2 with an acknowledgement of the original’s flaws, and a commitment to righting all its wrongs.

            Starting immediately after the events of the first game, The Conduit 2 brings you up-to-speed quickly by offering a cut-scene that fills you in on the important details of the story so far, and sets the scene for an action-packed episode. As Michael Ford, you follow antagonist John Adams through the conduit, arriving on an offshore oil rig located area of the phenomenon known as the Bermuda Triangle. The Conduit 2 soars through many different mythological locations and icons on its journey, and is perennially interesting because of its delivery.

            What follows in the game has clearly been inspired by two main camps: Half-Life 2 and GoldenEye 007. The Conduit 2 fills in the back story through loudspeaker taunts and audio diaries, riffing off BioShock in a similar manner to Batman: Arkham Asylum, but the delivery of the story and actions sequences in-perspective is clearly Electronic Theatre Imagea design decision born of a love for Valve’s work. The GoldenEye 007 influence is obvious in the design of both the level structure and the available weaponry: tight branching corridors give the feeling that there are more options available to the player than the linear path they ware being pulled along, and the feeling of impact with the weaponry is something that many of the most widely respected FPS titles is sorely lacking.

            Unfortunately, The Conduit 2 isn’t without flaws. The game is often limited in scope by the hardware running it: there are often areas where you can tell were originally planned to offer so much more, but have had to be stripped back to maintain a respectable level of functionality. It may not have been so obvious on previous-generation hardware, but when competing against the dramatic combat of Halo: Reach and the complexity of environments offered by the likes of Homefront, The Conduit 2 was never likely to be considered a pioneer. And here too lies the problem with the game’s artificial intelligence (AI): balanced enough to compete against the games we were all playing five years ago, but often feeling like a clay-pigeon shoot in today’s market.

            Nintendo’s Wii is commonly known as a console but on a modified version of the GameCube’s hardware. Five years ago the console still had room to stretch it’s legs, but as designers begin to push the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 further and further, becoming more confident in their use of the hardware, Wii’s left lagging a distance behind. In some games that difference is rarely an issue, in what could be considered one of the most popular genres Electronic Theatre Imageof modern times, it’s a critical issue. The Conduit 2 does it’s best to push the Wii hardware, but in many respects it seems to be doing so in the wrong direction. Those little details dotted around the environment that you would barely notice in a modern FPS on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 are apparent by their absence in The Conduit 2, and the lighting design is simply years behind anything on the two more powerful systems. The soundtrack is something of a saving grace for The Conduit 2’s technical qualities, but even then some of the voice-acting is a little lifeless in places.

            The Conduit 2 is an improvement on its predecessor in many regards, but still falls foul to many of the same flaws. The multiplayer excels significantly; offering twelve-player online games as well as four-player split-screen, but it still feels as though the ideas are hamstrung by the hardware. And that may be the story of not just The Conduit 2 but Wii FPS delivery as a whole once the recently announced Wii U casts it as a distant memory: so full of potential, but seemingly unable to deliver on most of it.


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