PAX 2010 Preview: The Conduit 2By Stephen Johnson - Posted Sep 07, 2010
What We Know:
The sequel to the sharp-looking Wii shooter picks up immediately after the events of the previous game. Protagonist Michael Ford emerges from the conduit he entered at the end of the last game, and finds himself on an oil derrick in an unknown location being fired upon by suspiciously well-armed guards.
What We're Seeing Now:
Trying to make a Wii equivalent to a hardcore shooter is a pretty high bar to clear, so The Conduit's problems can be forgiven. It wasn't a perfect game, but it was a promising game, an ambitious game. In other words: Ripe for a sequel. Although it's hard to tell definitively from the Conduit 2 pre-Alpha level playthrough and boss battle I enjoyed at Pax 2010, Sega seems aware of the problems that plagued the first game, and is taking steps to correct them, while leaving in the things gamers liked about the first go-round.
Among the improvements of Conduit 2: Iron sights. This is a huge embettering-- you'll be able to pull up your crosshairs on screen to lock in on enemies, and counter the tendency of the Wii-controlled reticule to jump all over the screen. This makes the game feel more like a "real" shooter and less like a high tech game of Duck Hunt. The controls, overall, feel a lot more dialed-in than the controls in the first game. More intuitive and refined.
Another improvement over the original: A cover system. You'll be able to knock over tables, then hide behind them as you peak up and headshot your enemies.
Speaking of enemies, weak AI was one chief complaint from the first game -- bad guys would literally line-up to be murdered at times, or rush directly at you in opposition to all good sense. Although the AI was not complete, baddies did dive behind cover and try not to get shot. Definitely an improvement. The game's developers tell me the AI will be tweaked and improved as Conduit 2 gets closer to completion, so hoepfully we'll have enemies smart enough to be challenging when the game streets.
As for the look of the game, it's amazing. The Wii's graphics are being pushed to their limit here, but not at the expense of playability. What I saw was smooth, with no noticeable slowdown or framerate drops. It looks better than the first game, with an expanded color palate, and some impressive lighting effects.
My demo ended with a boss battle. A Leviathan rises from the ocean to attack the oil derrick where your player stands, and you must man turrets to send it back to the briny deep. Pretty typical stuff, but the sea monster looked impressive, with nice animation and a good sense of scale (that thing is big!).
Sadly, I didn't have a chance to play the game's multiplayer, although online is a big focus of the finished product.
Overall, Conduit 2 looks very promising, and may ultimately prove the must-buy game for fans of shooters who prefer the Nintendo Wii...assuming that those people actually exist.