Conduit 2 Review
Conduit 2 overcomes its problems by offering a long and varied single-player campaign with a good sense of humor.
- Irreverent, B-move-caliber story
- Labyrinthine levels with plenty of secrets
- Varied artistic design
- Exciting boss fights.
- Hilariously awful AI
- Classic Controller issues.
Conduit 2 is a breath of fresh air in a genre that takes itself far too seriously. Breaking away from the shackles that made The Conduit an insipid chore, this unrestrained sequel addresses every concern from the first game with a jester's aplomb. Gone is the overly dramatic story that made government conspiracies as banal as a tour through a doorknob factory, replaced by a tongue-in-cheek narrative that revels in preposterous logic. The paint-by-numbers level design has been tossed in the scrap heap as well. You travel the globe in Conduit 2, and the circuitous layouts make it fun to figure out where to go next. There are even thrilling set-piece moments mixed in, culminating in a number of over-the-top boss fights that provide an explosive change from the normal action. That's not to say Conduit 2 is without fault. The core action is mired in problems, ranging from hapless AI to predictable combat, and the lifeless multiplayer fails to build on the cartoonish charm of the campaign. But Conduit 2 rises above these complaints. It has a style all its own, and though it has its fair share of issues, you'll still have a smile on your face the whole time.
When the story begins, it's impossible to tell if it's a serious attempt to relay the plot of another alien-themed conspiracy cover-up, or if it's making fun of genre cliches. Mr. Ford is a surly, take-no-guff protagonist, and his guttural growls make it easy to dismiss him as another run-of-the-mill tough guy. But it soon becomes apparent that you aren't meant to take this goofy story seriously, and the outlandish plot provides more than a few laugh-out-loud moments. Take, for example, the taunting words of one late-game boss. After you shoot him in the head for nearly 10 minutes, he bellows at you that he's through negotiating. In another amusing exchange, Ford questions why the architecture of the building he's in seems to repeat. Your helpful friend responds that time and money force designers to reuse assets, just like in video games. It's moments like this that make it easy to just relax and enjoy the show. Conduit 2 isn't particularly smart or insightful, but it has enough silly banter to make the story enjoyable.
The Conduit was heralded for its outstanding controls, and the precision offered by the Wii Remote/Nunchuk combo is just as impressive the second time around. Now the Classic Controller is an option as well, and though it's not nearly as accurate as the standard scheme, it's a welcome addition for those who would rather use a dual-stick setup. There are some notable issues, though. You may have to slam on the duck button multiple times before your avatar reacts, for example, and aiming is far too touchy, even after you tweak the sensitivity settings. These quirks are annoying, but they won't impede your progress thanks to the laughable artificial intelligence. Enemies act more like vaudevillian performers than trained mercenaries. You may see a soldier take cover against a wall of air or perform a somersault and forget to shoot afterward. Oftentimes, you strafe into a room with your gun cocked, only to find your foes standing around as if they're at a cocktail party. Make no mistake about it, the AI in Conduit 2 is atrocious, though it does fit within the B-movie vibe the game exudes. It's funny gunning down these fatuous fools, and because Conduit 2 never pretends to be a serious shooter, the inept AI only adds to the charm.
Your varied arsenal includes military staples such as machine guns and sniper rifles mixed in with a healthy assortment of out-of-this-world armaments. The earthly weapons generally act as you would expect, though there are some exceptions. Damage with the shotgun is woefully inconsistent, so you may behead a vile enemy with a sure blast in one fight, only to find it takes three headshots the next time around. Your alien firearms look a lot more interesting than an ordinary pistol, but they're not quite as effective in combat. Oftentimes, it takes two or three times as many shots to kill an attacker with an intergalactic offering, which makes using these fancy tools of destruction less enticing. There is one exotic gun that not only has a creepy visual design, but is a fine killing machine as well. The hive cannon looks like a grotesque insect, complete with slithering tentacles, and delivers a deadly punch when fired. Despite some neat-looking weapons, the action in Conduit 2 is rather predictable. Fights too often erupt in narrow corridors littered with handy pieces of cover, and the typical layout combined with the aforementioned AI problems make for functional, if derivative, shoot outs.