The Conduit II is a Microsoft Conspiracy!
Jokes aside though, The Conduit II is probably not what most were expecting after the first game. The moody feel of secrecy, conspiracy, and seriousness is all completely vaporized like High Voltage Software got a direct hit with the Deatomizer on it. While a number of game play elements remain and the multiplayer got much needed improvements this feels almost more like a reimagining than just a real sequel. It seems to pull in a lot of visuals and references to pop culture and many current popular video games. This gives it a sort of Shrek like feel that I did not find altogether pleasing. It also includes a fair bit of Metagame humor, that is jokes about you playing a game, which breaks the immersion factor even more and makes the title even less appealing. However, it seems to be a game you hate to love due to some very positive aspects.
So without further delay I will address the game in its various parts.
Without a doubt the story portion of the game takes a massive dive from the first installment. It is partially due to the poor presentation which prevents you from immersing yourself into the story. Between Metagame humor and too many pop culture references to count the story gets largely lost in the background and forgotten. Making this worse is that you are introduced to new elements of the story along the way with no real time spent to flesh out these plot points leaving them to feel like little more than foot notes of no significance. You will discover a new form of alien and without much discussion go about destroying it rather mindlessly when it felt like it could have been a rather intriguing plot point if more time was spent on it.
The story of The Conduit II IS technically a direct sequel to the first Conduit but with a new Voice Actor (Duke Nukem's Voice Actor to be Precise) for Ford it feels like it does not take itself remotely as seriously. I do not mind some humor, and there was some funny things on the radio broadcasts in the original Conduit, but this game takes it too far with so much humor it is like it became retarded between the first installment to now somehow. Many of the jokes are lame and hard to laugh at while only a few are really worthy of a chuckle or two. The best jokes of all seeming to be written rather than spoken. Many of the jokes try to tie in elements from our current pop culture like the tired Over 9,000 joke or the Mortal Kombat reference about soul stealing.
There is a fair bit of detail to be found in writing on the walls that seems a little less interesting than the first installment and by decoding various documents and objects you find along the way. This is supposed to flesh out the storyline a fair bit more and it helps but Ford's reaction to things and lack of interest in this data seems to be a let down. It feels like rather or not you personally find these bits interesting Ford is just a mindless grunt who wants to go around and blow things up. Considering he seemed to be more thoughtful in the original Conduit this leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
It cannot be stressed enough how much this game seems to steal from others in plot point and even the look and feel of a number of in-game objects. You feel like you are playing some low budget version of PerfectGearsofHaloDuty or something rather than a unique title onto itself. I have to be careful not to spoil anything but if you pay attention to how the storyline progresses and the vehicles/weapons in the game and keep the titles mentioned in mind you should see what I am talking about.
The story is also rather short which could be a blessing in disguise. It makes the joke end sooner rather than dragging on for even more punishment but on the other side of the coin it is partially why it feels so unfleshed out. If more time was taken to really attempt to immerse the player into the story and more story was thoroughly told then maybe it would not have been so bad.
To summarize, the Story in this installment is more or less a joke. It seems the makers perhaps felt criticism from the first game's story and decided to poke fun at their own storyline before anyone else could. While that is one way to defend themselves I think it was a failure and that they should have stuck to their guns and followed up with a dark moody sequel that kept you wondering and asking for more.
There is nothing bad about the graphics but there is nothing very good about them either. They look crisp and you can tell what you are shooting at. There are some decent lighting effects, environmental effects, and all the gun fire is acceptable. They did bump the graphics up a notch from the first installment but there is nothing that really stands out and demands your notice. None of the weapon effects are particularly outstanding to look at and even simple things like water feels a bit lack luster compared to other Wii Titles that include it.
The dialogue in this version is often out of sync with the character's lips and most of it is less interesting to listen to. The general sound effects are alright but somewhat bland and uninteresting. The music is acceptable but nothing to write home about or that you would want to get a download of. Some of the lines spoken by characters in multiplayer are pretty funny and there is a lot of voice acting that was done perfectly well which helps keep the sound score from sinking any further. Explosions and gun fire is good but it is not very easy to tell where it is coming from which would be the mark of very good sound quality.
This is where things get tricky to review. The gameplay is a mix of good and bad that is very hard to pin down. I will break down some of this point by point to make it easier to see and understand. These are not in any particular order but without these examples it is hard to fully appreciate just how mixed this category really is.
1) Controller Customization any time during the game: Much like the first installment it is still a nice feature.
2) Fully customizable HUD: A new feature and one I must say is VERY welcome.
3) CCP Control Available: I would rather not use an Etch'a'Sketch to shoot people but some folks like that arcane method.
4) New weapons which are useful and interesting: This basically speaks for itself.
5) More secrets to uncover in each level: Adds to the replay value and gives you a reason to explore a bit.
6) Good Cooperative Split Screen modes: They help earn you in-game cash too.
7) Customizable Online Avatar: Beats being generic and you have more options this time around.
8) It is easier to add friends and now there is a Rival system for on the go gaming buddies: Makes it a lot easier to find play mates.
9) Very customizable private rooms: Makes GoldenEye weep.
10) Host Migration: No getting dropped in a game thanks to someone pulling the plug.
11) HeadBanger headset support: Beats the Wii Speak but hardly anyone does anything with it.
12) You can now join a friend or rival's game in progress: No more HOPING to get into the same random game.
13) Healing ability in Team Games adds more cooperation and is a fun addition: You can now be a field medic! "MEDIC!"
14) More accolades and achievements to unlock: Makes everything feel more worthwhile.
15) Boss Battles: They are more fun than just gunning down random enemies.
16) It is patchable: Here is hoping they take advantage of this.
17) New Multiplayer Modes & Capture Points: Adds a new dimension to the game.
18) You can vote out people in public games: Hopefully getting rid of hacks and glitchers.
19) Easy to change loadout after Death: So you can get what you really want.
20) You can purchase appearance upgrades: This should have been the only purchasable upgrades.
1) You must purchase weapons and gadgets for multiplayer play: This means those with more in-game cash have a strong advantage over those who do not.
2) Respawn timers in Random Multiplayer are annoyingly long: Breaks the action too much.
3) Some old weapons have been made useless: The Warp Pistol these days is not the crazy spreader of Chaotic doom it once was.
4) Lock On system is less reliable: It functions oddly and throws off your aim more than it helps.
5) Aiming Down Sight is poorly implemented: You get stuck often when ADS is active and it makes it clunky and hard to use.
6) Objectives are less obvious during multiplayer: Makes it harder to know where the ASE is and where to go in order to accomplish your goals.
7) Harder to tell which side you are on: It can be hard to tell initially which team you are on in a match without checking the score board. Checking the board can get you killed by faster players.
8) Spawn Camping: It is the Rule and is EXTREMELY effective in this game.
9) Gadgets can be very unbalancing: Some combination of Gadgets can all but effectively give you the advantage it takes Hacks in other games to achieve and are less than helpful in making the game more about skill.
10) Glitches Galore: There are a LOT of Glitches and they are really debilitating. Did this get play tested much?
11) No real way to switch your loadout just before entering the match: You have to predict what match you will get and select it before hand.
12) Random Multiplayer mode does not allow you to CHOOSE type of game: Instead now you get to choose between a random selection of game types that will be voted on. This certainly lowers the enjoyment if you just want to play Capture the Flag or normal Death Match.
13) No way to predetermine what Team you are on: Say goodbye to clan battles.
14) Low number of loadout slots: If you are going to make us use Loadouts and have so many options then do not give us only 4 slots. This could easily have been 6 or even 10 without being unreasonable.
15) Lag: In this game lag effects each individual more than the whole but it seems to give them a major advantage of being untouchable while they kill you with great ease with invisible attacks.
16) Some Gadgets MUST be unlocked via Random Multiplayer: We have established that the Random Multiplayer is not so great and Private games are awesome but in order to unlock certain things you MUST play in the Random Multiplayer.
17) Low Ammunition: In Random Multiplayer there is no way to get more ammo unless you pick up guns from dead people and you can quickly find yourself dry. You also get just one Grenade to begin with which seems a bit stingy.
18) Lost? Need a map?: In the Single Player Campaign you will feel lost fairly frequently and there is no map to help this problem.
19) Enemy AI: Yeah... It is horrible. The Enemy is not smart in the least. People fail to notice you slaughter their friend standing a foot away and do not bother trying to dodge the missile you just shot at them.
20) Motion Controls: You MUST use the Wiimote and Chuck motion controls for either Throwing Grenades or Melee. You can choose which does what. However, because your aim is routed to your Wiimote wiggling that to Melee means you lose all sense of direction while trying to chuck a grenade with it means you aim at something totally different than you intended. If these were fully customizable I would put reload on the Chuck and spin around on the Wiimote which would have been perfectly acceptable but as it stands this is a big flaw.
There is more I could say but what it boils down to is that there are a lot of things that make the gameplay good and a lot that make it bad. They mix together to make a game that you want to enjoy but often feel too frustrated with to fully appreciate. It is almost hard to believe HVS could at the same time do some things so very right and some so very wrong.
It is also rather disappointing that while there are turrets you can man in the game there is not much in the way of actual vehicle combat which would have been a welcome addition to the franchise and may have served to offset the bad even further if implemented well.
Rent or Buy?|
Rent this before you buy it. You really should find out if you can handle the bad that comes with the good. If it appeals to you then go ahead and buy the game but if not then just keep it for a rent and then let it go.