The Conduit was one of the most-talked about games of E3 2008, and with good reason. The Wii only boasts a couple of decent shooters, and the Conduit impressed us with its promise of fast action and absurdly customizable controls. The game was generally well-received upon its 2009 release, and Midwestern developer High Voltage set out to make an even bigger and better Conduit. At this month’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, they gave us some hands-on time with the sequel to the first game, Conduit 2.
Critics of the first Conduit accused it of having an uninspired storyline and retro (in a bad way) non-destructible environments, the dreaded “too-many-hallways” syndrome. The guys at High Voltage said they’ve taken all that feedback to heart and worked hard to address each of those issues. Conduit 2 is a direct narrative sequel to The Conduit and concerns the further machinations of alien villain John Adams. We weren’t given much more than that in regard to the fiction, so it looks like we’ll just have to wait for the game’s release. What we did see were a few of the many new environments in which the game takes place.
The original game was set solely in Washington D.C., which made for a good measure of monotony. Conduit 2 takes hero Michael Ford all over the globe as he searches for alien progenitors other than John Adams. We saw a range of different locations that add some much-needed variety to the game; we spent most of our time on an offshore oil rig. The game is still fairly linear but feels more expansive now that you’re not trapped inside various buildings and cutscenes convey important story points rather than dry mission briefings. We were told an augmented engine has made for an increase in character animations, more free-form level design, and best of all, AI improvements. This time around, the AI doesn’t just stand there waiting to be shot—it actually realizes what you’re doing and reacts accordingly, taking cover or altering its method of attack.
Leaving the single-player campaign behind, we fired up the multiplayer. This mode featured fully customizable characters with weapon and armor upgrades. Armor is modular and you can make each piece any color you like, the better to stand out on the multiplayer field. Each player can save up to four loadouts and each multiplayer loadout allows players to carry a principle weapon, a secondary weapon, and grenades. We were told that improvements have also been made to the All-Seeing-Eye, which will make for more scanning of new tech in the single-player mode that can then be used in the multiplayer mode. The augmented tech also presents players with new weapon options like the Arc-eclipse, which has a cloaking mode that makes you invisible until it gets too cold.
We took a run at the co-op splitscreen Invasion Mode where we tried out the new sprint button (yes!) and the amusingly odd coin-collecting mechanic. As you and a friend fight off hordes of Drudges, gold coins appear and go bouncing mischievously off, forcing you to run after them. As weird as the presence of these coins is, you want to grab them before your friends do because they grant you more money and more points. The thing is, it’s all too easy to forget you’re in a fight when you see that telltale glint of gold, which should provide quite a few laughs as you watch your buddies chase a bouncing coin into the middle of a bunch of enemies and get slaughtered. The game will still feature online multiplayer, and players will now be able to revive one another. Best of all, High Voltage says they’ve taken measures in hopes of preventing instant hacking and will be able to patch the game post-release and provide better security.
Upon its arrival this spring, Conduit 2 will support the classic controller as well as the Wii remote, and since High Voltage said Nintendo’s moving away from the Wii Speak, the game will support the PDP Headbanger Headset. From what we saw at GDC, Conduit 2 has made definite strides in addressing the issues of the previous game. While retaining the first title’s uber-customization, it promises to give us better AI, a better story, a richer and more secure multiplayer, more and cooler weapons, and a more lively, expansive world to use them in. Conduit 2 is set for release on April 19, 2011, so anxious Conduit fans only have one more month before the hunt for John Adams begins once again.