It's been a long road from "below average" to "average".
Scroll down to the bottom for a video review.
The problem with the original Conduit game, released on Wii in 2009, is that it was severely over-hyped. Claiming to be a first-person shooter on par with those found on the Xbox 360 in terms of production values and gameplay, The Conduit turned out to be a disappointing corridor shooter with limited gameplay scope, uneven graphics, generic art direction, persistent bugs, and a mess of a 12-player online multiplayer mode. The game received mediocre reviews, and High Voltage shrank back into the night, promising to deliver a sequel that made good on those original promises. Two years later, they bring us Conduit 2, and while I can definitely tell you that they've improved the original, the unfortunate passage of time has rendered many of these improvements moot.
The story starts off where the first game ended; smack-talking soldier Michael Ford is after power-hungry Trust boss John Adams, who has been in cahoots with alien invaders called the Drudge. He follows Adams through a Conduit portal and ends up…on an oil platform. Adams escapes through yet another Conduit within five minutes and leaves Ford to deal with an angry-looking cybernetic serpent. The plot never really rises beyond this cat-and-mouse game: Adams is always one step ahead, leaving you to deal with the Drudge, then the ending comes along and makes you just scratch your head. Unlike something like Metal Gear, however, you're not suffering through the gameplay for the story. It's the other way around.
The gameplay in Conduit 2 is notably improved from the original, due in large part to the variety of control options. You can use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk with or without the MotionPlus accessory. With MotionPlus, the control feels a little tighter, but not a lot. Using the aim assist option brings more precision. The control customization from the original Conduit makes a triumphant return in the sequel, though I will say it might take you a long time to get everything working just right. For my part, the Classic Controller Pro, configured to duplicate GoldenEye's control scheme as much as possible, worked the best.
The game's visuals have been improved largely by increasing the disparity between environments. You'll find yourself wandering through Washington D.C. (of course), China, Russia, Central America, and even Atlantis. Sadly, despite the visual panache, you'll still be walking through a lot of corridors, and the more open areas feel a little messy. Cover is strewn about in an uneven manner, unhelped by the fact that there is no specific cover system aside from "duck, then stand, then duck" etc. While set pieces exist, none of them make you say "wow," and more often they serve only to throw more enemies at you. On the plus side, the character models are much more striking in this game and include several variations on Drudge aliens and a few new Trust designs. Michael Ford himself gets a makeover early in the proceedings, from a wetsuit to an armor super-soldier suit. Strangely, it doesn't really absorb damage any better.
Nothing looks good close up, and anytime your field operator (Andromeda), appears in a cut-scene, you'll wonder if this is a good-looking N64 game (she doesn’t so much talk as chatter incessantly). The sound design is nice: enemies chatter constantly and realistically, and Michael Ford is now voiced by Jon St. John—that's right, Duke Nukem himself. The script seems to have been written specifically for this occasion, as Ford tosses out groan-inducing one-liners at every opportunity.
While gameplay is rarely more complicated than "get from point A to point B," your interactions with the All-Seeing Eye have nicely evolved to the point where it's basically a Scan Visor. You can find story information, weapon blueprints, and what Call of Duty fans would call Perks scattered throughout every level. You can also revisit any level you want to find everything, which is cool.
The multiplayer options are legion. You can play split-screen with three other people in competitive modes or a cooperative Hoard-type mode where you try to mow down as many enemies as possible. Playing any of these modes really racks up in-game currency so you can buy new weapons, gear, and Perks for customizing your load-out and avatar. The online multiplayer itself is shockingly inconsistent. Framerate issues plague most games, being dropped in the lobby was a constant hazard for me, and connecting to games is sometimes an issue. I also encountered one instance where the game just locked up while trying to find a game. Once you actually do connect successfully, there are a good variety of maps and game types. Conduit 2, however, doesn't have the staying power of GoldenEye in the online arena.
One other thing to point out—almost every time I jumped online, the game went through a lengthy process of searching for and downloading patches. These patches fix not just online problems, but solo campaign problems too, including a troublesome one on the very first level. While appreciated, it’s troublesome to see so many patches released, and it’s irritating that it takes so long to search for and download them (the game then restarts itself).
Conduit 2 has some good moments and has proven itself a perfectly competent shooter with some middling issues. My biggest complaint is that the game just isn't memorable, and there are other shooters I'd rather play. For a single-player experience, I'll go with the Metroid Prime Trilogy or GoldenEye. For online multiplayer (or even offline multiplayer), GoldenEye still reigns supreme. If you need to get your FPS fix, Conduit 2 has you covered, but there are honestly better shooters out there in the gaming landscape.