System: Wii (Exclusive)
Developer: High Voltage Software
Genre: First Person Shooter (FPS)
The Conduit has been on the radar of the vast majority of Wii gamers ever since it was first revealed over a year ago. Developer High Voltage Software vowed to make a game for the gamers, not for themselves. They have been constantly tweaking and updating their game according to the buckets of feedback Wii owners have given them and now The Conduit is finally here.
The biggest argument I’ve heard people make about The Conduit is that if it were on either of the HD consoles, systems that are over saturated with shooters, no one would care and the only reason it is receiving any attention is because the game is on Wii. That argument, in all honesty, is probably true. Games like this are a dime a dozen on the 360/PS3, but Wii gamers are starved for first person shooters, placing this game at the top of most of their most wanted lists.
The Conduit tells the story of Mr. Ford, a secret agent who finds himself right in the middle of an alien invasion on Washington D.C. He is contacted by a member of The Truth, a secret organization that has apparently ran the United States for the past couple hundred years, and is tasked with defeating the entire alien force all by himself.
It’s a generic storyline full of overworked cliches, yes, but the tale is engaging while the experience lasts and there are a couple of twists to keep things fresh. But my biggest gripe with the game’s story isn’t its lack of originality at all. The game ended so abruptly that I was thoroughly disappointed and let down, as the cliffhanger ending provided no closure at all, but instead set the game up for a direct sequel.
Throughout the campaign you’ll find yourself fighting through the same small selection of enemies in a very linear fashion. You’ll be moving from point A to point B while following a straight course and blasting the hell out of everything in sight.
There are 9 chapters which will take about 6 to 7 hours to complete, making this campaign relatively short. You can go back and replay the game to hunt down the game’s secret data disks and hidden messages using the All Seeing Eye (ASE) which will score you some of the game’s achievements. Other than that, multiple playthroughs are encouraged by the unlocking of infinite ammo and one-shot kill options after beating the game once.
Like I said, if this game were on any other system, it wouldn’t be anything special. But how many alien-themed first person shooters can you think of on the Wii (Metroid Prime 3 isn’t a shooter, it’s a first person adventure)? And while it’s true that The Conduit doesn’t offer anything revolutionary with its story, where this title really shines is controls.
The Conduit is easily the best-controlling FPS on the Wii, thanks to their fully-customizable controls. Any action in the game can be rerouted to another button or motion gesture at any point during the game. For instance, the default action for a melee attack is a quick forward motion of the Wii remote. I hate this. Why would your melee attack be mapped to an action that completely disorients your aiming and just feels so unnatural? I quickly opened the control options menu, moved around the controls so that my melee action was mapped to down on the d-pad, and moved a less often used action to the Wiimote jerk.
But changing the buttons isn’t the only thing you can customize. Everything can be set to your personal preference and can be tested in real-time to ensure that you create the scheme that works perfectly for you. Horizontal and vertical look speed, run speed, and reticle dead space are just a few of the many tweaks you can make, but perhaps my favorite option is the ability to completely customize the HUD. Everything that appears in you HUD can be completely rearranged to your liking, and transparency can also be modified to an extent that you can even make it completely invisible.
After messing around with the options just a little bit, I found the perfect control scheme that felt good and complimented my play style. There is a great amount of freedom in customization, and hopefully The Conduit will influence future FPS developers enough to ensure that fully customizable controls becomes a standard.
One of the main selling points for The Conduit has been its fantastic graphics. The game looks absolutely amazing for a Wii game thanks to High Voltage Software’s own Quantum 3 Engine which allows for tons of particle effects, depth of field and blur effects, excellent lighting, and some of the best water effects I’ve ever seen on the Wii. The character models move fluidly and look great, although there are only a handful of different models.
One complaint I would like to make here is that anything off in the distance looks like a horrible pixelated pile of vomit. In the few brief instances where you go outside and aren’t surrounded by buildings or are on a high floor of a building and are looking out a window you are presented with very ugly scenery. It’s a minor gripe, but it’s something I noticed.
Accompanying the beautiful visuals is an equally impressive sound design. All weapons and sound effects are fantastic and the music is always fitting, but the real strength of the sound design comes from the professional voice acting from a cast that includes talents from Hercules and Battlestar Galactica. This strong presentation ups the level of immersion you’ll feel when blasting through levels and hearing tips from your ally and creates a great feel in the pre-chapter discussion scenes.
Perhaps the best reason to own The Conduit is for its great online multiplayer component. With several different modes, WiiSpeak support, and allowance for up to 12 players, The Conduit easily has the strongest online design of any Wii game I’ve played. There is an addictive leveling up aspect that will keep you entertained for a great deal of time and the multiplayer adds tremendous amounts to the game’s entertainment value.
My online experiences have been mostly positive, with quick-loading matches and little to no lag, there were a few instances where the lag was so bad I couldn’t tell what was going on, and even once where the game wouldn’t start because it didn’t recognize that all players were in and ready. These incidents don’t occur often, but they show up on occasion.
The Conduit may not be the next Halo, but it is a solid shooter with a great visual and audio design and has the best controls of any Wii FPS thus far. Full customization of options means that everyone will be able to tweak to the game to feel just right to them. The story is generic but offers a couple of surprises and manages to be engaging throughout the entire campaign, which is unfortunately rather short. Adding to entertainment value is the unbelievably strong mulitplayer aspect which almost always runs fluidly and offers tons of modes and an addictive experience system which is simple, but will keep your attention for a good long while.
- Amazing controls are fully customizable and can be tweaked to your liking
- The graphics are outstanding
- Professional voice acting
- The best online component of any Wii game so far
- Simple linear level progression
- Only a handful of enemies
- Generic story line with a horribly abrupt ending
Score: 8.25/10 (Great)
Gameplay: 8.0/10 (Linear level progression, but it’s fun as hell thanks to the Wii controls)
Graphics: 9.0/10 (Amazing by Wii standards, sets the bar for future projects)
Audio: 8.0/10 (Sound effects and music work well, professional voice over)
Entertainment Value: 8.0/10 (Strong mulitplayer component, short campaign with a terrible ending)