Review by Archmonk Iga
"High Voltage pushes the Wii's motion controls in an attempt to make The Conduit stand out among other first-person shooters."
The Conduit was supposed to be the Wii's answer for its lack of solid first-person shooters. Sure, the Wii had Metroid Prime Trilogy and some semi-ports of the never-ending onslaught of Call of Duty, but none of these are essentially exclusive to the Wii. So The Conduit was released to some decent hype, boasting the FPS everyone was waiting for with its unique Wii controls and um
that's about it. Yes, The Conduit certainly is a Wii FPS that uses the remote's motion controls, but I mean
so have all the other Wii FPS's. And aside from the controls, which are nothing new to the system in the first place, The Conduit simply does not stand out.
The Conduit's story takes place in Washington DC in a typical not-so-distant future where disaster movie meets science fiction, with a little psycho-political ramble spread throughout. It seems pretty cool, but it does not work out so well. Michael Ford is our main character, a man who used to work in the Secret Service and is now following the orders of a man named Mr. Adams, leader of The Trust. Adams has you retrieve an item called the All-Seeing Eye, AKA the ASE, at the Reagan International Airport. Once you get it, chaos ensues because Adams betrays you and you have to fight your way through the Drudge (an alien race) to reach safety.
So Ford's goal after the first chapter is to work with some radio voice named Prometheus to bring down the Trust, an organization disillusioned with their views on how the United States should be run. It's an interesting story when you read about it, but playing through it proves it to be fairly uninteresting. All you really get is an alien invasion, a corrupt government sect, and a chosen one main character. It could have been much more, and perhaps it will be with its sequel, but for now we are stuck with bland presentation and completely boring characters.
The Conduit uses High Voltage's very own Quantam 3 engine, but for the most part it appears wasted. The levels are terribly gray and boring, with repeated walls, decor and clutter throughout most of the game. The guns and enemies, however, look pretty good. The alien guns are original and have some really cool designs, and the high-tech human guns look just as good. The character models, while at times clunky or robotic, are given good details and animations. The aliens are impressive too, though they look like they could have easily been picked up from Halo and dropped off here. The ASE is also really pretty and shiny, though it takes up way too much of the screen and makes it a little tougher to see where you're going.
In terms of music, The Conduit brings us exactly what we'd expect to hear in this type of game: powerful, heavy orchestral scores with a heavy action-rock influence. The music could be picked apart pretty easily, but it sounds the way it should sound, so there's no reason to complain about it. I'd also like to say that the music during the main menu does an excellent job of preparing you for the gameplay.
High Voltage recruited some stars to do the voice work, but their delivery falls flat and ultimately negatively affects the characters themselves. Ford and Prometheus sound somewhat bored despite the current crisis situation they're in, with an obvious attempt to not sound as monotone as they actually do. Ford's actor is at least somewhat believable despite the terribly cliche voicework. Even worse, the aliens' voices are a total rip-off of Halo's aliens. They could have at least given the aliens unique voices!
Sound effects work out fairly well, thankfully. Gunshots all sound appropriate, especially the unique alien guns. Since DC is an utter mess, crumbling walls and audible destruction give the city some life and believability where it fails visually.
Playing The Conduit grants you with a somewhat enjoyable experience, though when you have Metroid Prime Trilogy and Halo 3 or Halo: Reach available, The Conduit falls into the shadows. What makes it worse is that High Voltage makes it look like they don't even care. They take zero risks and do absolutely nothing to make the gameplay unique in any way.
The motion controls work well, aiming the remote at your target and pulling the trigger, as you'd expect. However, it is still pretty sluggish. Did the creators not play Metroid Prime 3 or Resident Evil 4? Tight controls are necessary for a FPS, and here they are a bit too loose. Melee and grenades are used by swinging the remote and nunchuck, respectively, and it always takes you a second to recover afterwards because the screen usually shifts in some crazy direction. It does help a lot that you can set up the controls to fit you the way you like them, in terms of buttons, so it's not all bad. Plus, aiming with the remote is MUCH preferred over aiming with a right joystick anyway.
The goal in the single player is to simply run and gun through the levels. You will quickly find your favorite gun, which will most likely be the alien Strike Rifle just because it's so common and so powerful. Onslaughts of aliens and Trust members will be coming at you at all times, and while the AI isn't the brightest in the world, the game is still pretty hard just because there can be so many enemies shooting away at you.
Ford also uses his newly found toy, the ASE, to get by. This device is used to uncover secrets and to help direct you to where you need to go. It can also be used to unveil invisible aliens. Still, I feel like I was underwhelmed by the ASE's use. I also often found the screen shifting crazily when the ASE was being used, making it very hard to see what was going on.
With the multiplayer, The Conduit plays it safe but also does everything pretty much right. There are tons of different multiplayer modes, some of them very original, like Bounty Hunter (though this one is a bit boring in my opinion). But the Team Deathmatch and free-for-all is what's important in any FPS game, and The Conduit delivers in that department.
And while the concept is always fun, there are a couple problems bringing the multiplayer experience down. In any round you play online, there are bound to be cheaters and hackers, making the game for the regular players pretty lousy. There is also the Nintendo Wi-Fi BS that you have to deal with on all the Wii's online games, too. So while online play was executed well by High Voltage, it's the outside factors that bring it down. Really, you're better off playing multiplayer with friends.
So what does The Conduit do differently that makes it so great? It pushed the motion controls, but we've seen all that before. The ASE is also unique to the game, but in the end it is nothing special. The multiplayer is fun but certain factors bring it down. In the end, The Conduit's gameplay is about as ordinary as it can getand that manages to make it something even less than ordinary.
The single player mode is way too short, being beaten in under six hours if you don't search for the secrets in all nine levels (all you get is some bonus artwork and some extra info on the game's story, if you're that interested). Thankfully you've got the multiplayer, which may be about as typical as it gets, but hey, it's there, and it's pretty fun if you really like the game that much. But you'll often be asking yourself, why am I playing The Conduit when I should be playing Halo?
REPLAY VALUE: 6/10
What was supposed to be the Wii's FPS saving grace falls by the wayside only a year after its release. It presents nothing new, and the amazing control scheme it promoted so hard is actually somewhat flawed. It really does not get much more ordinary than this.
Thanks for reading =)
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 10/06/10
Game Release: The Conduit (US, 06/23/09)
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