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The N64 had epic open world games, there were no memory isssues or technical limitations that prevented a great epic adventure from happening. The Conduit and Red Steel 2 make the Wii look like crap that can only produce on-rail shooters without exploding. Metroid Prime 3 looked and played great so I know it's possible.
I hope Conduit 2 really is more open world in its design with interesting enemy A.I. because that makes or breaks the game for me. Wii Motion Plus, movable cover, and weapon alt. fire are all really nice new features, but they don't mean squat if level design still isn't up to snuff.
Well, Conduit 2 will have a hubworld that will let you choose what next mission to take on. Levels will have branching paths, and I heard in an interview that hidden paths might open up in previous played levels.
Also, hidden conspiracy objects that you can find throughout the game will unlock extra side missions, or weapons.
Give me liberty, or give me pizza pie Highest Anticipated Game: Rune Factory 3!!!
I hope branching paths are more of the "take the cliff route that runs along the mountain instead of going down into the valley below" variety instead of "go left or right in a hallway" style of choice which is close to meaningless except that you need to go to both to get all the secrets.
I'm going to guess it's the art costs. When 3d games had simple textures you could create impressive environments to get people to like the game. Now everything is so expensive to make things look pretty in HD that it makes sense to save money and take you on a cinematic journey than it is to let you explore and have the graphics not be consistently excellent.