The Wii first-person shooter market is looking rather crowded over the next couple of months. Call of Duty: Black Ops and GoldenEye 007, both from publisher Activision, are hitting the white console in November. And shortly thereafter, Agent Ford is returning in early 2011 for Nintendo’s system in Conduit 2.
As such, we e-mail interviewed Keith Hladik, a producer at High Voltage for Conduit 2, to find out why Wii owners should keep this Sega-published title No. 1 on their list.
Nintendojo: What did High Voltage feel was the biggest complaint from the first title? And how do you plan on addressing that in the sequel?
Keith Hladik: One of the biggest complaints was how ‘samey’ single player felt. In Conduit 2, we’re really focusing on making sure that the player has a lot more things to do — this includes tweaks to the existing core mechanic as well as the addition of boss fights, an on-rails shooting sequence, more interactive environments, a better story, and much more interesting places to kill bad guys in.
ND: Since there will be multiple paths and strategies to get through single-player levels, will there be multiple endings to the story as well?
Keith: We’re striving for one wiz-bang ending for Conduit 2 that will propel the story to new heights. The conclusion of The Conduit definitely left it open-ended (and was a bit abrupt) — we have a much more satisfying ending to Conduit 2.
ND: From a technical standpoint, what are some of the most impressive aspects of the graphic engine for Conduit 2?
Keith: I continue to be amazed by what our programmers and designers manage to pull off. While we have done more work on the engine, the biggest difference has been experience. We’re a lot more familiar with the strengths and limitations of the hardware and the tools we have to work with in the engine. We have also developed a lot of tricks and optimizations to get even more out of it. Our detail maps are crisper, our lighting is improved, and our shader work is better. We’re a lot more efficient. We recently went back and took a look at what we did in The Conduit and feel that we’re way past what we pulled off with the engine in the first game. We think we have a pretty good–looking game.
ND: Will Kevin Sorbo be back?
Keith: Due to the scheduling requirements for the sequel, Mr. Sorbo will not be returning as Prometheus. Fortunately, we were still able to secure top-notch talent.
ND: What will be the main incentive to play Conduit 2 online regularly, such as achievements, extra modes and new guns?
Keith: We have an economy in Conduit 2 that allows you to purchase upgrades as you play, be they cosmetic changes to your character model — such as a new skin, color, or armor piece — or actual gameplay changers such as weapons and suit upgrades. The ranks are back, as well as an achievements and medals system, and the profile system will keep gamers fiddling with their perfect loadouts and skins. That being said, these bookends mean nothing without a solid core multiplayer experience, and we’ve spent a ton of time on our multiplayer modes making sure that they’re as tight as possible.
ND: What weapons are returning for Agent Ford’s second adventure? Will there be any multiplayer-specific guns?
Keith: All of the original Conduit weapons are back, though they’ve all been tweaked and adjusted. All weapons now have alt-fires as well, be they iron sights, scopes, or tweaks to the existing functionality. There are of course new weapons as well. There aren’t any multiplayer-specific weapons.
ND: What sort of classes will be available in online multiplayer for Conduit 2? How does this change up the multiplayer dynamic?
Keith: It’s not a class system per se, but rather a system that allows players to predefine loadouts of weapons, grenades, and suit upgrades. At any time during a match, you can change to one of four loadouts and you’ll respawn with the new equipment.. It’s a quick, easy way to change and adapt your play style, and I think adds a lot of depth and legs to the multiplayer experience.
ND: Will the split-screen multiplayer mode allow for players to add AI bots? If so, how many extra characters are available?
Keith: We’re not supporting bots in split-screen competitive modes, but you do fight against waves of AI opponents in our Invasion Mode. In this split-screen mode, 2 to 4 players can team up to fight an onslaught of enemies earning coins for use in the store.
ND: Nintendojo witnessed hackers at work in online multiplayer with The Conduit. What sorts of improved security measures will the sequel have?
Keith: We’ve taken it very seriously this time around and have done a lot of work to make it a better online experience. We of course can’t say anything in regard to specifics, but it is something that we’ve looked at very closely and have measures in place to address it.
ND: Will High Voltage Software be able to patch online problems with the sequel?
Keith: We are supporting online updates in Conduit 2. Continuing to support the title post-launch is something that we feel very strongly about, and this was at the top of our feature list for the title.
|“… I think that what differentiates us from the other titles is that we have been built from the ground up for the Wii and aren’t a remake or a port from another console.”
— Keith Hladik
ND: There is obviously some big competition on Wii this fall in regard to first-person shooters, with GoldenEye 007 and Call of Duty: Black Ops. Why should Wii owners be more excited about Conduit 2?
Keith: It’s great that so many shooters are coming out — I think it proves that there’s something about the pointer controls that you can’t get with the mouse and keyboard or the dual-analogs. There are a lot of options for shooter fans on the Wii in the months ahead , but I think that what differentiates us from the other titles is that we have been built from the ground up for the Wii and aren’t a remake or a port from another console. You can’t get this experience anywhere else.
ND: Since The Grinder went multiplatform, any chance we’ll see the Conduit franchise do the same? What about Conduit on 3DS?
Keith: We’re committed to the Wii for Conduit 2. We like the platform and we like the controls. Our main focus at this point is delivering a kick-ass sequel. Where we go beyond that is still something to be figured out — we like what we’ve created in the series and would love to continue telling more stories in the Conduit universe. In regards to the 3DS, I was absolutely blown away by it at E3. It’s something special and I know that there is a lot of interest in it here at the company. We’ll see what happens ;).
Conduit 2 ships for Nintendo Wii early next year with a MSRP of $49.99.