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The Conduit 2 gameplay preview

Hands-on: Danger! Danger! High Voltage!

Nobody likes The Conduit more than us - wait, strike that, reverse it - so the announcement of a sequel doesn't exactly fill us with hope.

The game's major problem was that it was just so uninspired: drab shooting in drab, corridor-like environments with drab alien enemies that seemed like they'd wandered off the set of some drab Sci-Fi Channel TV movie. Your enemies were called the Drudge, for heaven's sake.

Well, it seems that High Voltage listened to the voluminous complaints about the original and have made it their mission to try to correct all of them. For the follow-up they've been paying more attention to the art side of things - while its predecessor was more of an effort to perfect the technology, The Conduit 2 sees High Voltage focused on actually using that technology to make an interesting game. This means more varied and less corridor-like environments; this means new enemy types such as a massive mecha-snake, a robot canine and, er, a grunt wearing an orange jumpsuit instead of a grey one.

Zoom

The new, more open environments - including a jungle, wintry Syberia and, for some reason, the lost city of Atlantis - will apparently contain multiple paths, and even the welcome ability to choose which stage to tackle first in certain instances. If true, this would mean one of our biggest bugbears with the original game had been crushed with one fell swoop.

It would also mean that The Conduit 2 is, potentially, setting foot in Metroid Prime territory, a feeling enhanced by the new functions of the All-Seeing Eye, which now has the power to scan the environment and download
facts. There will presumably be far less platforming and many more headshots than in Retro Studios' epic trilogy, but it's an exciting thought nonetheless.

FORD FOCUS
The sequel once again revolves around FBI agent - and Sunglasses Wearer Of The Year 2009 - Michael Ford, with the plot kicking off immediately after the original game's conclusion. If you didn't finish it, or you're currently playing through and wish to remain pure and spoiler-free, you might not want to read the following sentence - put your fingers in your eyes... now.

The first game ended with Ford leaping through a portal after Trust leader (and secret alien) John Adams; the sequel begins as the portal deposits him on an oil rig - or oil 'derrick', if you happen to be American. Pretty soon, Ford finds himself under attack from a giant serpent, necessitating the canny,MacGyver-like use of a mounted turret and a harpoon.

Zoom

He, and humanity in general, are soon caught in the midst of a battle between two Earthbound alien factions, and from what we've gathered so far they appear to be aliens other than the Drudge, who are still knocking around in certain areas of the world (notably, in the ruins of Washington DC), kicking seven bells out of your old human enemies, the Trust. This AI-against-AI behaviour is part of an effort to make the world seem more alive. Other steps include smarter enemies, who will now occasionally use the environment as cover.

SPLIT AND POLISH
Thankfully, it's a more alive world that you get to make more dead with the game's extensive, creative arsenal. New guns include the vortex cannon, which projects a force field that traps bullets and grenades in mid-air before reflecting them back at their owners at the touch of a button. You'll also get a phase rifle that can shoot through solid walls, as well as a nifty deployable turret. With most
shooters these days getting progressively more 'realistic' with their weapon loadouts, the game's outlandish gun collection is still greatly appreciated.

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