Conduit 2 Hands on Preview

Note: This preview was actually written after PAX 2010, not the recent Conduit 2 community event. As a result, the build I played would now be considered outdated. The only part of the preview this really effects is my opinion on the  frame rate, but nevertheless keep this mind. I actually have a few articles from PAX that never went up. You’ll be seeing the other article soon.

The original Conduit garnered a lot of press for being the first serious attempt at a Wii first person shooter. At the end of the day, despite all the hype surrounding it, The Conduit garnered only a good review score average. The game was criticized for being a very generic corridor shooter, with not much beyond typical running and gunning. With Conduit 2, High Voltage Software has set its sights on correcting all of the flaws of the original.

More after the break.

From what I got to play at PAX, the effort is definitely there. The drab cityscapes and office spaces of the original have been replaced by somewhat more atmospheric locales, such as an oil rig in the middle of a storm and, of course, Atlantis. In an effort to spice up the action, cinematic sequences have been added. Early on in the demo, I was trapped in a gas chamber, and had to shoot my way out via a glass window. Later on in the demo, the oil rig is attacked by the level’s end boss, the Leviathan, which attacks the rig several times throughout the level before finally coming for you at the end of the demo. Another neat addition to the game play is the ability to knock down objects in the environment for cover. Both you and the AI can do this, which comes in handy when you are in sudden need of cover.

Most of the weapons are your standard fair. You’ve got your pistol and your machine gun, of course. Much more interesting are the aliens’ weapons. There is a plasma rifle type weapon, which shoots devastating bolts of energy at enemies. If you hold down the fire button, the weapon charges up, and shoots a spread of three bolts at once. The neat thing about this weapon is that you can twist the Wii remote and change whether the bolts shoot vertically or horizontally. The other alien weapon in the demo is called the “Shield Gun”. This is a gun that can actually catch bullets, and fire them back in a bullet spread similar to a shot gun round. Hopefully, the final game will have more weapons like this.

The demo caps off with a battle against the Leviathan. The Leviathan is a big, hulking (and surprisingly well-designed) sea serpent that shoots a red energy beam from its mouth. Normal weapons are useless against it, so the player must utilize some conveniently placed turrets to take it down. The battle is fairly impressive, and a nice change in pace from the standard firefights in the rest of the demo.

After the demo, I got a peak at what will be the central hub for the rest of the game: Atlantis. Let me say, it’s not quite what I expected. In contrast to the realistic locales of the original Conduit, and the oil rig setting of the demo, Atlantis looks very alien. Glowing lines crisscross the floor. It’s very dark, dank, and you can see shipwrecks off in the distance.  It’s populated by these creatures that kind of reminded me of Half Life’s head crabs. Atlantis isn’t really part of the demo, so I only got to see it briefly, but it does appear to be more visually impressive then the stuff we’re used to seeing in Conduit.

Speaking of visuals, the graphics in the original demo were as good as in the original Conduit. For a Wii game it looks pretty nice, right up there with the likes Goldeneye and Metroid Prime 3. The only real complaint I have at the moment is the fact that the frame rate is terrible. Even to the untrained eye, it’s easy to see that the frame rate was chugging significantly in the demo. To be fair to the game though, this was the same pre-alpha build we saw at E3, not a new build put together specifically to PAX. High Voltage has said they intend to lock the frame rate at 30 FPS. Given its delay to April, they will hopefully have the time to optimize the game’s performance.

Finally, I did get to take a look at Conduit 2’s multiplayer….at E3. The experience didn’t give me much to write about, so I decided to wait until I got to take a real stab at its single player. The multiplayer is your standard fair for first person shooters, at least on the surface. Much like the single player levels, there are things in the levels you can interact with to take down your opponents. One level featured an alien craft in the center of the arena. It’s possible to actually access the ship and activate its engines, frying anyone who may have been coming after you. In addition to some level specific gimmicks Conduit 2 also has a customizable armor function. Armor parts can be bought to modify the look of your avatar, and also lend them special abilities such as invisibility and long distance sprinting. In addition to these armor modifications, you also have a variety of different character classes to choose from, each with their own unique attributes. You can switch between two character classes in any given match. By and large, Conduit 2’s multiplayer both looks and sounds more robust than anything the original offered, and indeed anything that’s been on the Wii. The level of customization was not really all that well represented in the E3 demo though, so it remains to be seen whether or not all of this customization will help Conduit 2’s multiplayer compete with its HD contemporaries.

So, the question looms….is it any good? Does it thoroughly address the problems? From what I’ve played…..not quite. The effort is definitely there, as I’ve said. But the scripted events are too few and far in between, and only one of these events required me to do anything. Knocking down objects for cover was also something I could only do on a handful of occasions in the demo. Really, the quality of the game isn’t going to depend too much on game play innovations. With good first person shooting controls on Wii being old hat now, Conduit 2 is going to need great level design, some very good bosses, some stand out weapons, and some truly well done traps and scripted moments if it’s going to stand out. It already has some stand out weapons, but the demo did little to impress me in the other departments. Hopefully these qualities will be in the final product.

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One response to “Conduit 2 Hands on Preview

  1. CrazyTails says:

    I don't know. It's cool to read positivity even about the early build but there are tons of other previews about the more recent build, which interests me a lot more =3

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