Mr. Ford, Professional BAMF. It's on my business card.
Conduit 2 is a Wii MotionPlus game. This is important to note well in advance because Conduit 2 essentially demands that potential players buy this extra peripheral and also because that same fact can explain why some players would be silly enough to dislike the game. Some players - I won't name names here - may try the game without the MotionPlus and find that their avatar of destruction has become a babbling and incoherent fool with ADD who will stare at every shiny thing in the game world with furious abandon at the slightest twitch of the controls - the kind of condition that will lead players to barf and hurl obscenities at the screen. These players would have to be forgiven, of course, for habitually disregarding warnings and directions with almost masochistic glee, especially when they have to suffer the incredible pain of admitting that, yes, maybe they were wrong. (Nick: That counts as an apology from me, right?) [That depends on the number of fingers I receive. ~Ed. Nick]
[image1]While it would be hyperbolic to suggest that Conduit 2 has the best controls of any Wii shooter (however few there are), it's not a stretch to say they're damn good. Surprisingly good. And while the story, the sound, and the multiplayer are all worth mentioning in their own right, it's surprising how the MotionPlus can turn a game from a frustrating and physically painful experience to one that feels almost as if there were no controller besides the player's body. It's cliché, yes, but an apt description, given how easily players will find themselves wiggling around on the couch, subconsciously attempting to dodge bullets as they shoot the ever-living crap out of the presidential aliens that fill the screen.
Presidential aliens? Oh, yes. Yes, there are.
Conduit 2's protagonist is named, by default, Mr. Ford. And the primary antagonist is referred to as Mr. Adams. And a series of subtle clues scattered along the way (references to The Constitution being an alien artifact) slowly seed the game for a finale that is epic despite - or because of - its utter silliness. It's a subtle and charming mix of shenanigans that are played for laughs as often as they are played straight. The story could be considered "so bad it's good", which is the inherent point to the game, rather than a happy accident forged in incredibly poor storytelling. There are times when players will groan and moan and snort at how particularly stupid a certain scene might be, but those silly scenarios are the same things that continue to pull and goad players along their path through the game.
The great beauty behind Conduit 2, though, is its solid gameplay. While the story may be over-the-top and giggle-worthy, the vicious and furious combat is incredibly satisfying. It should be noted from the get-go that this game is hard. Not "the controls suck" hard and not "the enemies are cheating" hard; never once does the game seem to break any implicit rules in the middle of combat. But the way it's approached and the way the enemies seem intent on riddling the character with holes leave players gasping for breath and couch-dodging for every skirmish.
[image2]The combat is balanced nicely with stretches in each level that are punctuated by silence; maybe an enemy here or there, but for the most part, little more than hallways to explore and secrets to uncover, while the player regains stamina for the next brutal fight. Each battle is also fresh; never in any "grand battle", of which there are more than a few, will players feel as if it's something they've seen before in a previous fight. There always is that rush of adrenaline and excitement.
Although the majority of weapons are re-skinned "standard shooter" fare, the armaments available for players are incredibly satisfying to use. The SCAR Battle Rifle, when zoomed in, releases just the right amount of recoil, say, after headshotting an alien, and releases this quiet sort of "ka-thunk" that sounds just right on a sniper rifle. The Bee Gun seems to teem with life even at a standby and makes an almost horrifying sound of pain when enemies are mowed down with what is, for all intents and purposes, a machine gun that shoots bees. In short, the weapons aren't simply tools with which to progress through the game; they are just as fun as any other element in the game.
And finally, of course, what would any good shooter be without multiplayer? There is the option for split-screen multiplayer, a feature that's strangely missing in most games as of late, and a satisfying "wave" mode wherein players must cooperate to survive endless waves of increasingly difficult baddies. It is made clear from the start that death will happen - survival is something temporary and fleeting, something which can only be prolonged through furious and skillful gunplay.
[image3]One particularly fun aspect of the multiplayer gameplay - with both the co-op and "PvP" (which has the standard suite of multiplayer modes (deathmatch, capture the flag, etc) - is the quasi-RPG system that's been fashioned, where winning matches awards players points to buy and modify their character's build in endless ways. I would like to say this is a good thing, but I am vindictive, and as such... God I hate this feature for allowing some stupid guy to make a character that catches bullets and throws them at my face. Really? Really now? That's just not cool, man- it's like a teabag made of hot lead and shame.
If there are any (real) complaints, they concern the hardware itself rather than the game; more often than not, they will be in the form of backhanded compliments with that "for the Wii" qualifier. Conduit 2 looks amazing... for a Wii game; the textures are rather blocky and feel like they're from the "Gamecube era". Its control scheme feels pretty natural... for a Wii game; players might need a thumb-extender to shoot and aim down the sights at the same time. Conduit 2 has awesome multiplayer... for a Wii game; the connection is a little slow, and there was some lag every now and again.
But really, I think we can remove that qualifier. Conduit 2 is an amazing game for something on the Wii, but it's also just "an amazing game".