Conduit 2 Updated Impressions

If you thought the original Conduit was a little too vanilla, perhaps a sea monster that breathes lasers will be more up your alley.

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Released last year, the original Conduit stood out among Wii games for a number of reasons. Chief among them were the game's impressive graphics and ability to take a genre so firmly entrenched on other platforms and make the control scheme work brilliantly on the Wii. But as is so often the case with games designed to tread new ground, developer High Voltage Software didn't quite nail the basics. With a ho-hum story and a predictable campaign, the core of the game didn't live up to the strong points that made it unique for its chosen platform. For Conduit 2, High Voltage is clearly aiming to right those wrongs with a game that, it hopes, will grab you right away and keep you entertained for the long haul.

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Rather than set the entire game in one continuous locale as the first game did with Washington DC, Conduit 2 will offer a more globe-trotting affair in its aim to alleviate that predictability. The game begins on an offshore oil derrick in the Atlantic Ocean, with rain pouring down and crashing waves serving to let you know right off the bat that you're not in the nation's capital anymore. From there, you will venture to places like China, Siberia, and even the lost city of Atlantis. Yes, you read that right--your fight against invading aliens will lead you to one of the most mysterious civilizations in Earth's history.

High Voltage also wants to punctuate the campaign with more "wow" moments to add more variety to the pacing--a big flaw with the original. The most noticeable change in this regard is the inclusion of boss fights. High Voltage gave us a look at one of the bosses from the sequel, and it certainly managed to stand out from the usual alien grunts you'll face during most of the game. You can chalk that up to the fact that this boss was a sea monster, roughly the size of a skyscraper that happened to also shoot lasers out of its mouth. While we didn't get a chance to play during this section of the game, if nothing else, the boss served to underscore the point that High Voltage knows that Conduit 2 could benefit from some more exasperations of "What the heck?" on your part.

Some changes to the core gameplay have been added as well, including the ability to flip objects over for impromptu cover and alternate fire options for most of the guns. Some of these that we saw looked pretty cool, if a little bit bizarre and hard to master right away. One that really stood out was the hive cannon, which lets you fire bullets as the primary fire or shoot a sticky tag onto the enemy as an alternate fire that then pulls those regular bullets toward it like a magnet--even if that means around corners. Another gun pulls enemy bullets toward it, only to erupt in one giant explosion of gunfire much like a scene from the movie District 9, which High Voltage was quick to reference when talking about the guns.

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At the very least, it looks like High Voltage knows what it'll take to make a better Conduit game. Of course, that's easier said than done. Whether this sequel improves upon its predecessor in a substantial way is something we'll have to wait to find out. In the meantime, you can expect to see Conduit 2 released for the Wii next February.

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