Confined corridors make up the bulk of your armed conflicts, but the level design in Conduit 2 is actually one of its strengths. Diverse visual design is the most striking element. Each level has its own style, and just soaking in each world is a pleasure in its own right. But you don't have to create your own excuse to go exploring. Levels have a multitude of branching paths and alternate routes, which means you have to put a bit of thought into where you need to go next. There are occasional problems with this open-endedness, such as hidden ladders that are not readily apparent, but it's generally a success. There are even secrets hidden throughout each stage that give you a tangible reward for your nosiness. Uncovering conspiracy pieces gives you points you can spend in multiplayer, though it's admittedly more fun to seek out these objects than it is to cash in your earnings. These items include top-secret documents that shed some light on the backstory, but the best of these are as goofy as the main story. For instance, you have to smash an aquarium to scan a rare coelacanth, and you may laugh at your reckless disregard for animal preservation.
6309504Go back to your home, giant water snake!None
There are a handful of boss fights in Conduit 2 that do a great job of injecting some variety. You know what you're getting into from the first moments of the opening stage. The frigate you're scurrying through is being hounded by a monstrous leviathan, and you can see it breathing fire and gulping down soldiers as you make your way down its many hallways. The level finishes with you squaring off against this colossal foe, and you have to sprint from turret to turret to shoot its weak point and bring it to its proverbial knees. These fights are more exciting in theory than in practice because they don't always play fair, but taking down these bosses is still a thrill. The novelty of getting into fights with these maniacal meanies more than makes up for their cheap tactics or inflated life bars, so it's hard to complain about their inclusion. The boss fights provide memorable moments that stay with you even after the ending credits roll, which is a huge improvement over the immediately forgettable events of the first game.
The campaign lasts about 10 hours, though you can always go back to search for hidden objects or torment the spectacularly inept AI. But if you want something new to dabble in, there's a healthy suite of multiplayer options as well. Up to 12 players can go head-to-head in action-packed online battles, and it can be fun for a little while. ACE Basketball is the best of the included modes, mixing your killing prowess with evasive skills in a thrilling team battle. And there are 4-player splitscreen modes to play with friends, such as Invasion, in which you gun down waves of attackers. But the multiplayer is ultimately the weakest part of this package. The core action is just not interesting enough to hold your attention for long. Everything has been seen in countless shooters before, so for anyone who has played a modern first-person shooter, Conduit 2 feels like just another ho-hum entry in the overcrowded genre. It's a shame, too, because the campaign has a distinct personality that separates it from its peers. If the multiplayer had captured the B-movie feel of the single-player experience, this might have provided a hook to lure people into the fold. But in its current form, it hits all the requisite check boxes without doing anything unique to distinguish itself.
And that's why you don't interrogate aliens.
It would be easy to label Conduit 2 as a guilty pleasure, and in many ways that would be a valid description. But the most important word you should hold onto is "pleasure." There is no way you're going to confuse Conduit 2 for an expertly crafted shooter on par with the genre kings, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. This game has a unique feel, which makes it easy to laugh along with the over-the-top story and smile at the incredibly inept enemies. Conduit 2 exudes a goofy charm through its adventure, and it has enough genuinely good moments so that it can hold its head high. This is a refreshing change of pace from what you typically find in the genre. Conduit 2 is a huge leap from its dour predecessor, brushing aside its many faults to provide a consistently enjoyable experience all the way through to the end. Sometimes you'll laugh at the game, sometimes with it. But the most important thing is that you'll be laughing the whole time.