Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gallery: Conduit 2

High Voltage Software's upcoming sequel to last year's ridiculously under-appreciated (critically, at least) high-quality Wii FPS is on the way and looking mighty amazing. At a recent Sega's press event here in NYC, Chief Creative Officer Eric Nofsinger and Art Director Matt Corso were on hand to show off the latest build of the game which was packed with all sorts of changes, many based on plenty of user feedback from the original. If you've ever thought that your favorite developers don't keep an ear to the ground when cooking up sequels, you'd definitely be proven wrong.

Next to the upgraded visuals (which are superb), longer campaign and more varied environments, the biggest changes Conduit 2 offers is even
more control and customization options. Although the original controls were excellent, players aren't tied to using the stock Wii Remote & Nunchuck this time out. The Wii Classic Controller is supported (and fully customizable for lefties), which should make the game even more accessible to those who still somehow aren't used to playing a shooter created with the original controller in mind. Nofsinger stated a few times that one of the main focuses of Conduit 2 was to "give the players what they want" and there's absolutely no doubt that fans of the first game will be more than pleased. Veteran shooter fans should also take a look at what's here, as the game looks to redefine the genre on the console in a few ways.

More changes in the game came fast and furiously as soon as the demo kicked off with Agent Michael Ford (now voiced by Jon St. John!), warping through the Conduit found at the end of the first game and ending up on a huge, enemy controlled oil rig. Taking out a pair of guards (one with a thrown wrench, which had the small crowd of editors burst out laughing hysterically when the poor sap went over a railing), Ford is now a more vocal avatar, spouting off the occasional one liner as he dealt out damage. "Players wanted a more expressive main character," explained Nofsinger, "so you'll hear him talk more throughout the game." Given that the voice actor for the sequel is the same voice behind the original Duke Nukem, there were a few humorous comments that, while not as crude as Duke's, made for a few grin-worthy moments.

And yes, that floating wonder toy (the All-Seeing Eye) makes a return, as does the occasional ASE puzzle.This time out, the sequel looks to pack in a lot more shooting and a few less puzzles than the original. Ford's super suit makes him less of a bullet/laser sponge, meaning death should be a lot less frequent unless you're really careless. The AI in the build was pretty fierce, but I believe the difficulty was cranked up to show off the intensity of some firefights. A new challenge-based targeting system allows players to aim and shoot with ease, but experienced players can go for more perfect shots by lining up rings inside the reticule as they aim (or turn the cross hairs off entirely, if my notes are correct).

There are even a few new human and alien weapons to play around with as well as the return of all the guns from the original. I won't ruin any surprises for you here (maybe), but I will say that it's really looking like the game will be a total blast in single player or online with some of the guns shown off. Oh, alright... here's ONE fun gun I got a kick out of... There's an awesome Eclipse gun that, in its secondary fire mode turns Ford invisible briefly, allowing him to sneak up on an enemy unseen. Naturally, any melee or gun options at that point are up to you. Yes folks, you absolutely can say (and quite precisely, at that) that HVS is aiming to please shooter fans of all stripes (pun intended).

We got to see the game in action through a few maps that showed off how far the team has gone in pulling out the Wii's true powers. I'll overstate the obvious and say that screen shots don't do this game justice at all. One thing smart gamers (those of us who don't box everything they see into purely console-biased commentary) will understand is it's not about system specs or HD graphics, it's what you do with what you have to work with. High Voltage has, just like other Wii developers such as Eurocom (Goldeneye 007, Dead Space Extraction), Sonic Team (Sonic Colors) and others, mastered making games look as spectacular as possible on the console. Conduit 2's more interactive environments include destructible elements, objects that can be flipped to provide handy cover, a much larger sense of scale and at the point where the demo ended, a wild boss battle against a gigantic fire-spitting alien slug.

A slew of other innovations in sound design for the console and multiplayer modes that can't yet be discussed are also looking to make Conduit 2 one of the more spectacular shooters on the Wii in a period where a few great ones are in stores or on the way. Between this, Goldeneye 007, and Black Ops, it'll be a tough call to say which comes out on top... that is, if you're silly enough to gauge games this way. Me, i say respect them all and definitely play them all so you can see and feel all the care that goes into making each its OWN separate game experience. As far as sci-fi themed shooters go, Conduit 2 is indeed looking like the best one on the Wii to date.

Back with more screens as they're sent along as well as a full review when the game ships sometime in February 2011. I'm actually more thrilled about Conduit 2 than a few other higher profile shooters on certain other systems. But hey - that's the sort of excitement the super creative folk at High Voltage bring to the table whenever I get the opportunity to run into them.
Now, if only they could figure out how to get all this on the DS (or 3DS)... can you imagine how awesome a portable version (or at least some sort of spin-off) of Conduit 2 would be?

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