The Conduit promised to push the Wii where no other development team had been able to, at least on a technical level. The final result was instead a basically average FPS, with a good control system but a series of more or less serious problems, in particular due to the brevity of a single player campaign not particularly inspired (which can be completed in four or five hours) and mediocre level design.
Given the results obtained in commercial terms (about 500 thousand copies sold worldwide, a ridiculous percentage if we consider that there are more than eighty-six million Wii around), we therefore learned with some amazement the announcement of a sequel. , who clearly would pick up the story where we left off, with agent Michael Ford chasing the evil John Adams (a powerful alien disguised as an Earth bureaucrat), while trying to improve everything else: the graphic style, the contents of the single player and also those of an already more than discreet online multiplayer, bearing in mind what the owners of the Nintendo console are used to (nothing, or almost nothing). So, here we are: Conduit 2 is finally available in stores and we have been able to test it well, a few days in advance, to understand if the developers of High Voltage Software have managed to make the leap in quality or not.
Around the world in a few hours
The single player campaign consists of thirteen stages, and sees us explore ancient ruins, snowy wastes, Chinese mountains and a host of underground areas in search of both malicious aliens and heavily armed human mercenaries. The game starts immediately with a bang, projecting ourselves onto a platform in the open sea towards which a huge sea monster moves, the Leviathan, which we will have to neutralize using some turrets. The amount of opponents that we will find on our path is respectable, also from the point of view of variety: from the annoying creatures that emerge from devices attached to the walls to human soldiers with or without heavy armor, from simple alien warriors to shoot in the head to the big and menacing ones, which go down only after a lot of gusts, passing through a whole series of more or less successful variants. We have not found any particular shortcomings in terms of design, in this situation, while the discourse changes drastically if we stop for a moment to analyze the protagonist of the story, the agent Michael Ford.
In fact, we are talking about a muscular guy with a pair of visor sunglasses, frankly unpresentable and to which the developers wanted to give a completely different look during the game, drawing on him an armor halfway between the Crysis nanosuit and the armor by Master Chief. Better, but not by much. Then there are some considerations that must be made both in terms of game design and in terms of level design. First of all, the single player campaign is once again too short, the duration is practically the same as the first episode and we cannot help but wonder why something has not been done to make it more substantial, considering that it is a defect. highlighted by many parts and that High Voltage Software cannot fail to have understood. Secondly, the difficulty appears badly balanced: at the "normal" level you can survive without any particular problems to everything that Adams manages to send against, but the fight with the "Chinese" Li boss comes together with a sudden peak in the challenge , which forces numerous attempts to be able to keep up with the opponent and his multiple offensive maneuvers. A sudden rise in difficulty could also be there, but it would not explain why the subsequent phases instead return to normal, with a final clash that is all too trivial in its simplicity. And then, well, there is the issue of level design, which from the trailers seemed much improved compared to The Conduit but which actually leaves a bad taste in the mouth even in this sequel. The numerous underground galleries in which the action takes place are in fact all the same, harbingers of a "high tech" intention that does not convince at all, with chromatic choices that are, however, questionable. TO Conduit 2 the personality is lacking, in the last instance, and some discreet dialogue between Michael and Prometheus (which a bit reminds us of the exchanges between Michael Knight and KITT in the "Supercar" series ...) is not enough to fix it.
Conduit 2 it can be played using the Wii-mote / Nunchuk combo, using the MotionPlus or the Classic Controller (much better if in the Pro version). In all cases the commands can be completely customized. The support for MotionPlus appears more formal than anything else: the precision in the movement is certainly higher than that obtainable with the Wii-mote alone, but this sensitivity leads absurdly to a lack of precision, with the reticle that moves at every slightest jolt and therefore it prevents us from hitting hits with ease. Using the Classic Controller instead you get the classic layout of the FPS on consoles, but as soon as you access the multiplayer, the inferiority of this solution compared to the motion detection one, much faster and more intuitive, is evident.
Who does not play in company ...
As mentioned above, The Conduit already had a good multiplayer sector and at the end of the day this is the aspect on which the developers seem to have worked the most in view of the sequel. Conduit 2 in fact, it has an engaging multiplayer mode locally, via split-screen, as well as a very rich online component. The maximum number of participants in the games does not change, twelve for the normal ones and eight for the "hardcore" ones, but the ways in which it is possible to compete with friends or complete strangers are multiplying. In the "free-for-all", for example, you can win based on the number of kills, try your hand at a race to see who holds the DIVA longer, in the classic "capture the flag" or in a mode called "bounty hunter" ", in which each player is assigned a specific target from time to time and must try to eliminate only that one (while guarding against the onslaught of others!). As for the team modes, you go from the most classic of deathmatches to "capture the flag", from the curious "DIVA basketball" (in which you have to throw the spherical device in an area of the map to collect points) to territorial modes such as "annexation" and "overload", in which respectively you have to conquer and control outposts or defend your base and then try to destroy that of the enemy team. All this action can take place within twelve maps, not beautiful to see (there is always the problem of the level design that leaves something to be desired, after all) but sufficiently large and diversified. When we first logged into Conduit 2 we were amazed that the game was looking for updates and then installing them, something that is not seen every day on the Wii, indeed.
Matchmaking works well, we have already found a good number of users online and cases of lag problems have been relatively rare. The support for the HeadBanger headset is certainly an extra value, since it finally makes voice chat between players possible, even if it will be necessary to see how many will buy it. With the experience points earned during online matches, you can buy numerous items, weapons and upgrades for your character, which translate into a real advantage on the battlefield. On the one hand, therefore, they stimulate you to try your hand at multiplayer, on the other hand they inevitably create an imbalance between the different players, especially as regards the novices. Moving on to a purely technical discourse, Conduit 2 it is improved compared to the first episode, but not by much. The frame rate is generally fluid and effectively supports motion detection controls, but in the most agitated situations it shows the side to noticeable (and annoying) drops. The textures are generally of decent workmanship and, as already mentioned, the enemies are quite varied in appearance and characteristics. The scenarios leave something to be desired, or at least most of them: structures that are too simple, poorly chosen colors, a low polygon count, which does not stand up to the best of the past generation of consoles has been able to show in its most recent productions. significant. The sound, dialogue aside, is mediocre: the music is in fact insignificant, while some effects border on the ridiculous (the noise of Ford's fist against aliens dangerously recalls that of the slaps in the films with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill ...) .
Almost two years have passed since The Conduit, more than enough time to make a sequel capable of solving the problems highlighted by many (the brevity of the campaign, the questionable graphic style, the mediocre level design). Too bad things didn't turn out like this. Mind you, Conduit 2 it is anything but a bad title, but it has a single player that is completed in four or five hours and slips away without leaving any particular emotions, as well as an obvious lack of personality in terms of graphic style and level design. In many ways, High Voltage Software's product turns out to be approximate, and in any case it can in no way compete with what the FPS genre is able to offer over the others. The only real positive note are the multiplayer modes: abundant, fun, with excellent potential that can also be exploited thanks to in-game updates.
- Great control system, better without MotionPlus
- Content-rich multiplayer modes
- Fluid graphics in most cases ...
- ... but the frame rate drops dramatically in some situations
- Level design once again mediocre
- Single player campaign lackluster and too short