SEGA made a smart move when they negotiated the publishing rights to High Voltage's shooter, The Conduit. Since it's inital release The Conduit has done nothing but generate a ton of possitive buzz in the gaming world. If you're a Wii gamer, then you have probably been interested in The Conduit's development since the shooter market isn't exactly flurishing for the Wii. Well, the anticipation is over, and The Conduit has been shipped to store shelves around the world. So inch a little closer as we have a look at the Wii’s latest.
The Conduit has a lot of eyes peering at its overblown cover art wondering if High Voltage’s highly anticipated shooter will live up to the hype. The Conduit is stepping into the FPS market on the Wii which is pretty much a dry town. Except for a few tumbleweeds blowing in now and again, you’ve come to learn you should only purchase something if it has the little red “Nintendo” logo on the bottom of the box. Well, the Conduit is here breath some life back into the dusty white box sitting your shelve. The Conduit isn’t ruptured as it is full of first-person shooting goodness.
Without even reading a review for The Conduit, many Wii owners have already ran out to the store and purchased The Conduit. The FPS drought has been that bad and anything is almost better then nothing. Lucky for us Wii gamers, The Conduit is that “rare” example of a quality third-party game. The proof is on the silver disc, and SEGA once again proves that the Wii can be more then a gadgety marketing tool. The Conduit might not be remembered as one of the greatest shooters ever made, however for the time it should be listed as one of the best on the Wii console.
Following the Samus Lead
Now, forgetting about the Wii’s under performance for the hardcore gamer, let’s dive into this tale of shadowy government debauchery. The Conduit like other shooters on the Wii keeps a traditional approach to its controls by following the lead laid out by Metriod Prime 3: Corruption. Considering the Wii’s motion controls, having solid mechanics is important for the Conduit to work as a game. Shooters need a solid base of control and surprisingly the Conduit is easy to learn, super tight and an absolute blast to play on the Wii.
The Wii-mote/Nunchuk combination is the typical Wii set-up with the Wii-mote controlling your characters viewpoint along with most of the other mechanics in the game, while the analog stick on the Nunchuk takes care of movement. I found the standard set-up to be very intuitive as I had no problems getting into the quick action; and any qualms I did have went away after a half hour of gunning down enemies. If you’re having troubles with the games control scheme, High Voltage was kind enough to provide the gamer with a number of customizable options to tweak the controls to your liking. The freedom is yours and with a few minor adjustments I’m sure that every gamer will find a natural feel that fits their playing style. The Conduit is a great showcase for how a shooter should play on the Wii and hopefully other developers are taking notes.
Now that we covered how you play the Conduit, let’s get into how you will be spending your time in the game. The story behind the Conduit plays on our fears of conspiracy theories within the American government. Set in the near future The Conduit introduces us to Michael Ford, an secret agent within the Trust, a highly secretive military organization working within the government. Enlisted by the Trust you learn that a simple objective like recovering stolen goods is an epic undertaking. Pushing forward you uncover a new world of overwhelming situations you would never have considered. The more you explore, the more you're involved, the deeper this world becomes. From secret high-tech gadgets, to terrorist activities, and mind-altering chemicals, the Conduit has a few surprises waiting for the player.
Along with a strong villain, Prometheus, who is introduced to battle Ford, you’ll have to fight against the incoming threat of hostile alien life forms which adds another layer of transcendental intrigue. Without ruining too much more, the Conduit is a fairly straightforward conspiracy sci-fi tale that does a good job at motivating the player to move forward. I wasn’t blown away by the games plot, but I have to give it credit for thinking ahead while creating an entertaining ride for the player. I’m sure if the numbers come out right, High Voltage would love to return to Mr. Ford’s complicated bugged out world. There is definitely enough material here to turn out an interesting sequel, even if we seen this story before.
Generation to Generation
For the most part you’ll know what to do in the Conduit. Enemies come towards you, you shoot them. It's that simple. The gameplay is very traditional and anyone who has played a shooter in the past 10 years will be able to walk through the game without too many problems. The Conduit follows a linear path throughout the entire game without too many deviations from what you expect.
Unfortunately with these traditional roots means you'll have to deal with spawning “conduits”. Spawning enemies can be a games biggest downfall, and even though the Conduit has worked this mechanic into the story, it can feel a little repetitive as you search for "another" spawn point to disable. Actually, The Conduit is so traditional it almost felt little like I was playing the classic shooter GoldenEye from the Nintendo 64 days. Depending on your stance on the evolution of the shooter, you might enjoy the solid roots behind The Conduits gameplay, or you might be rolling your eyes as your Halo skills march all over Prometheus's plans.
I Spy with My Little Glowing Orb?!
The Conduit isn’t a total run-and-gunner as it tries to be innovative with the inclusion of the “All Seeing Eye”. The Eye is a tool that gives Ford the ability to find hidden objects in the games world. The Eye can be pulled up at any time and looks something like a large thermal detonator from Star Wars. The main use for this tool is to include small puzzling solving parts into the Conduit. The eye is nice addition to the game and spices it up a little bit, however I would have liked to see a little more innovation in the way of weaponry then a special orbital flashlight. A little more Perfect Dark would have fit perfectly within the Conduits world.
Frag It Up!
Surprisingly, The Conduit supports a full multiplayer mode that is the best online for the Wii. Online you’ll be able to enjoy a number of single and team focused modes while you blow a way a slew of Mr. Fords. The Conduit also has a Bounty Hunter mode that assigns a target for the player to eliminate and a nice Oddball styled match-up which has you looking to control the ball for the longest period.
The player limit is a low compared to other shooters, but something is better than nothing. In this case you can blast away with 12 players online with the surprising addition of voice chat (I'm sure Wii Speak owners will be happy to find another game to jump into.) I have to note that I did notice some lag issues online which can be annoying when you are used to smooth online matches. Although, if you’re looking for something fast paced to play on the Wii online that isn’t Mario Kart, you’ll likely put up with any issues and enjoy a few rounds in the Conduit.
High Voltage has invested a lot of time into the development of the Conduit in the hopes to make it one of the premier titles for the Wii. This is not only reflected in the refined controls, but also in the games graphics. The Quantum3 graphics engine that runs The Conduit is very adaptable giving the Wii a little more polish and effects that we are used to. The Conduit could be put on the same level as its closest rival Metriod Prime 3, and that is a compliment. Compared to other “next-gen” titles, the Conduit will seem like a poor mans shooter, but on the Wii it’s a notable looker. I know the Conduit was billed as being the Wii equivalent to the Xbox 360, or Playstation 3, but its more on the lines of a last generation title then the current breed of processing power.
Diego Stocco provides the backdrop in the Conduits audio tracks with a mid-tempo ambient groove that amplifies the sci-fi edge of The Conduit. The music isn’t in your face or too outlandish, it just fits nicely into the overall mix. The soundtrack is accented by some superb voice acting from the celebrity cast. This includes Kevin Sorbo, who does an excellent job getting into his role, and as expected Battlerstar’s Mark Sheppard nails an equally strong performance as The Conduit’s lead protagonist.
High Voltage and SEGA have something here that could be the start of a strong franchise for the Wii, and it would be shame if we didn’t see The Conduit 2 in the near future. The Wii definitely needs The Conduits connectivity as it working towards making the Wii a more interesting prospect for the gaming adept audience. If you're one of those adept gamers then you have probably been waiting for a solid third-party shooter to come along. Well, that wait is over because The Conduit is that game.
High Voltage did a great job pushing their technology on the Wii making The Conduit a stand out title. The extra visual flair, Hollywood supported voice-cast and online multiplayer easily keeps The Conduit above its competition on the Wii. However rating The Conduit against the top shooters in the gaming industry would be meet with less praise. Even though the Conduit is pushing up our expectations for title on the Wii, The Conduit is as straight-forward as they come. Besides a few minor snip-its, little has been done to innovate the title past the Wii-based controls. That being said, if you only own a Wii then you will want to snag this one up right away. However if you’re a multi-console owners you might want to give the Conduit a rental first because there are ton of options out there. Either way you look at it, The Conduit is an important title and one of the best shooters for the system, it's definitely worth a weekend of blasting drones away.