Developer(s) High Voltage Software
It’s the game Wii owners have been salivating for since E3 2008, proudly boasting that THE CONDUIT is the best first-person shooter for the Wii and will pave the way for future games utilizing what they have accomplished. It’s a pretty big claim and for better or worse, I am inclined to agree.
If you were hoping for THE CONDUIT’s story to be interesting, you’re going to be disappointed. An alien race known as The Drudge have invaded the earth and you are part of Trust, a government agency that is tracking the terrorist Prometheus as he has some connection to aliens. Prometheus has stolen the ASE (All-Seeing Eye, yes that’s what it means), an artifact that is connected to the Drudge. After you retrieve the ASE, Mr. Adams (head of Trust) declares you useless and decides to turn on you, which in turn makes you join Prometheus who offers you safe haven and more importantly, answers.
The plot is incredibly muddled and full of holes. For example, at the end of about every other level Mr. Adams gives you the chance to join him and help restore the country to glory. It doesn’t make sense as everything was going fine when you were a part of the organization and the reasons for him deciding you are useless are just as unclear. The ending is anti-climatic and was written in such a way that a sequel could easily be penned.
A recurring theme is conspiracy and evil government organizations, which is why you have the ASE. Along with being a rhetorical device that reveals the unseen in terms of knowledge and plot, it does the same thing with gameplay. When you come across hidden doors or puzzle pieces your ASE will pulsate and make a noise through the remote, when you locate the beacon you are then forced to solve an elementary school level puzzle (the animated SEGA logo inadvertently tells you how to solve ALL the puzzles in the game) to either proceed with the game or reveal a hidden weapon cache. The ASE is the most interesting component in the entire game and is severely under-used.
The controls for THE CONDUIT are great yet tedious. It took twenty to thirty minutes of trial and error to find exactly what worked for me and I gave in when the controls were at last usable. Practically every single thing can be calibrated or adjusted to fit how you want to play. It may sound like a complaint that it took me a while to set it where I want but it’s definitely better to have this many settings over default controls that cannot be calibrated at all. When you do find what fits you, it becomes incredibly fluid. Grenades go exactly where your reticule is showing and melee seems just as fluid but be wary as when you thrust with the remote and melee it off-centers your aim. It’s a realistic feature that will force you a second or two of readjusting yourself if you want to shoot something.
THE CONDUIT is a game that can go from pretty fun to smashing your controller on the ground in a heartbeat. It’s not superior A.I. that is the cause of such distress nor is it precision aiming from enemies. No, the cause of your frustration will stem from the conduits; they are the re-spawn points that if not promptly destroyed will make your life hell. While one or two is more than manageable, at random times there will be a gauntlet of enemies guarding four or five conduits off-screen that you will have to sprint towards and destroy. It’s as difficult as it sounds and with scare checkpoints at large-scale battles it enhances the frustration.
Seemingly unfair difficulty aside, THE CONDUIT offers a pretty good gaming experience albeit a generic one. The enemies seem to be ripped right out of HALO, including the sounds and designs of some weapons. Perhaps it’s an homage to the game that started the console first-person shooter but that still isn’t enough to ignore the plagiarism.
Returning to the A.I, however; It’s all actually very good. Several times I have seen enemies take cover and wait until I reload to peek out and charge towards me. It’s not the best A.I I’ve seen in a game, but it definitely rivals most of what is on the market right now.
When the enemies don’t feel like they were copied from some other franchise, they feel like enemies you’ve killed a million times before. When not killing Drudge you will be killing generic suit-wearing government operatives with guns and armor-wearing government operatives with guns. Your arsenal consists of weapons just as uninspired and bland. The game doesn’t offer anything new in terms of blowing the hell out of things. Not everything can be as coveted as the Gravity Gun but every weapon is ordinary not to mention that all of the Drudge weapons are just more powerful versions than the human weapons in the game.
Even if nothing stands out or is unique, the maps, enemies, and everything else looks good. It’s not the best looking one out there, but it definitely ranks as one of the better looking games for the console. The custom built Quantum3 engine is very impressive as well. I never noticed a single glitch or experienced any lag during the single player campaign. It’s an engine that I can see being used for several years by other companies interested in crafting their own first person shooter.
One thing that really helps pull THE CONDUIT back up on its feet is the multiplayer aspect. With thirteen different modes with seven different maps to choose from, out of the box there is quite a lot to play around with. Multiplayer offers a max of twelve different players at a time (although it was originally announced there would be sixteen max players.)
THE CONDUIT also makes use of the Wii Speak accessory (the first third party game to do so.) There is also a much more refined way to save Friend Codes and keep track of fellow gamers. The multiplayer aspect is incredibly easy to just jump into and should provide a longer and more enjoyable experience than the single player campaign.
The unfortunate truth to THE CONDUIT is that if this were made for PC and not Wii, it would be lauded as repetitive and at times overly difficult. Since this is a benchmark game ‘for the Wii’ it should be hailed as creating a great controller setup, accessible multiplayer and as a standard that future first-person shooter games on the Wii should follow.
While I have given out a fair amount of insults this review, I want to point out that it The Conduit gets all of the important things right. It is most certainly devoid of any bells and whistles that make a franchise great but the game isn’t broken, it’s just not polished. There is a good game at the core and I can easily see several sequels or spin-offs using this technology become the awe inspiring franchise shooter the Wii really needs at this point. It’s worth buying but not worth fifty dollars. If you are drooling for it, you may be disappointed with the shortcomings. If you wait until this reaches the bargain price of twenty or thirty, you should have no regrets.