When the first Conduit came out in 2009, High Voltage Games pitched the title as the Wii’s perfect version of first-person gaming. They were going to make the best-looking Wii game with the best possible shooter controls and multiplayer experience. They were even going to offer Wii Speak support for true hardcore gaming.
Things didn’t go quite as planned. Given the chance to test Conduit for themselves, players found a game that controlled a little better than expected but was mostly a disappointment. The storyline was boring and generic, with too many corridors, unimpressive graphics, buggy multiplayer, and largely unused voice chat. The future did not look good for Conduit as a franchise.
But like any lucky game blessed with potential, Sega allowed High Voltage to try again. Conduit 2 isn’t just a sequel, it’s a second chance for a franchise that promised so much. The developers now have plans to better utilize the engine behind Conduit.
From a graphics standpoint, their vision holds true. Conduit 2 looks substantially better than its predecessor, especially by Wii standards, and the developers are promising quality that can match. The addition of cinematics, more open environments, smarter enemy AI, and a stronger art style are good signs.
Control improvements will help the game's cause, as well. While the first Conduit offered one of the best first-person experiences on the console, MotionPlus support means the game rarely needs to find the cursor, and the customizable boundary box will make a welcome return. There is now a sprint button, an odd feature excluded from the original.
Online multiplayer is making a comeback, as well, although Wii Speak is no longer supported. Instead, the Performance Design Headbanger headset is recommended. All of the multiplayer modes from the last game will be available with the addition of Invasion mode, a variation on Horde Mode and a somewhat humorous take on the serious single-player experience, with players running around to collect coins for upgrades. Like other shooters, characters level up and are customizable. Four-player split-screen remains.
Interestingly, High Voltage has ported a level over to the 3DS. They allowed us some hands-on time with this level, which, truth be told, looks very similar to the main Wii version and plays quite well. With some developmental finesse, High Voltage could produce a full port, although the studio isn't focused on making one.
It’s clear that High Voltage and Sega are aiming to make Conduit 2 a much better experience all around. With a release date of April 22, they have about a month to tie everything together. Thanks to Conduit 2, the series has another chance to be the best shooter on the Wii.