Review by Nidtendofreak
"The Conduit both beats and falls short of the hype."
Ever since the Wii was announced with it's motion sensing controls, a good first person shooter was the second game on everyone's mind after epic lightsaber duals. So far, the Wii has experienced a few good attempts, but nothing solid when it comes to online shooters. The Wii has suffered from half-hearted ports, sloppy controls, terrible graphics, and lack of good wifi multiplayer.
And then, a relatively unknown company by the name of High Voltage Systems stepped up to the plate, announcing that they were making an exclusive, FPS for the Wii, with online play, and most importantly: good graphics. Instantly, HVS's project "The Conduit" gained hype rapidly. The more and more little bits of info were handed out, the more the hype grew. Winning awards at E3 for "Best Shooter on the Wii" and "Best Wii Game", HVS suddenly found themselves focused in the spotlight. But did they met expectations, or is this another case of overhyping an average game?
=Storyline/Singleplayer= Score - 7.5
The storyline for The Conduit is a relatively simple, generic, military vs aliens, run of the mile plot. It gets the job done, throws in it's own twists, but otherwise sticks right down that style of story. Michael Ford is the hero of the story, hired by a government agency known as The Trust, who specializes in alien invasion scenarios. Through-out the nine missions of the campaign, Micheal Ford begins to uncover the truth behind the Drudge, the alien race invading earth. The plot is given a small bit of light in the instruction manual, with a small day-by-day summery of what happened in Washington D.C. during The Conduit, as seen in the eyes of the public. The meat of the matter however, Micheal Ford must discover through the missions, and through discarded radios that are littered throughout the levels. Sometimes they will be a basic FM radio, othertimes they might be a guard's walke-talkie, but they give small bits of insight into the real truth behind the Drudge. There are also messages hidden on the walls which can only be uncovered by the All Seeing Eye, an important artifact that you collect at the end of the second level. These messages won't make sense until the very end of the game, and only if you have at least the majority of them, but they also explain a few key points of the plot that is otherwise untouched. However, even these messages don't fully explain the final plot twist, and leaves a feeling of emptiness once you beat the 6-7 hour story.
That is another issue I feel needs to be pointed out: the storyline itself is short. If you know exactly what you are doing, you could possibly burn through it in 4-5 hours, but accounting for enemy encounters, somehow getting lost in the rather linear level design and dying the first time through, it will take a few hours longer then that.
The Drudge themselves are all insect like in design. Typical for aliens attacking Washington D.C. but again, gets the job done. One of the things HVS stated was that their Quantum 3 engine would allow for better enemy AI. And in a way, it does, particularly with the Drudge. During my runthrough on the second easiest setting out of five, I've been zerg rushed by the smaller Drudge, OHKO'd by some of the large ones landing a headshot with a fully charged Warp Pistol or Strike Rifle, flanked, snuck up on from behind, and just plain old mobbed in a small space. The enemy, weather it be human or Drudge, will press their advantage if they feel they have one, or attempt to hide if they feel as if they are at a disadvantage. On the other hand, sometimes the AI is incredibly stupid. Not attacking me when they see me, rushing without firing their weapons, and sometimes just standing there as I shot them down to half health before moving.
The level designs are very linear. Well designed, beautifully, if simply, decorated, but still linear. Go here, destroy the enemy, reach next checkpoint. Mission update, go here, save this. Mission update, get the heck out of there, go here, destroy more enemies, take out nest, end of level. While you can hunt down data disks and the messages, there isn't much else to go after.
The campaign ends with a cliffhanger, and yet another plot twist. While it doesn't let the player feel as if they are totally satisfied, it promises greatly towards a sequel. Overall, the plot feels fairly basic. The player can guess most of the plot twists by just reading the manual, and beating the first few missions, but there is still at least one they won't easily see coming. It scores a 7.5 for being rather basic, but faithful to one of the military vs aliens plot types, while throwing in a few twists to the puzzle.
=Graphics= Score - 8.5
HVS's second biggest claim was great graphics. Their new engine allowed for graphic applications never seen on the Wii before. And indeed, HVS used them and used them well....when it came to weapons and enemies. When it came to the ground and walls, they kept things very simple. While they detailed the enemies and weapons, the levels themselves are rather bland looking, particularly the multiplayer levels. The levels feel like graphically updated N64 levels when it comes to the physical map details. Not a whole lot in the way of objects outside of the basic walls, stairs, simple furniture, trees and the like. It's the best hallways you've ever seen in a Wii game, but they are still rather barren and empty feeling except for the horde of enemies and the occasional bit of cover you can use in the shape of a car, or table. So, its both great graphics, and rather average graphics at the same time. The Conduit gets high grades for the details in the weapons and characters/enemies, but low scores for the lack of details in the levels. It averages out to 8.5.
=Sound= Score - 8
Sound, while not a focus of HVS, was defiantly something they worked on. The music was very well done...in the small bits you get it in. It loops rather frequently, particularly music like the main menu music. They aren't songs you would put onto your ipod, but you would recognize it instantly and enjoy it if you heard out outside of the game. The guns have standard sounds to them: human guns sound like normal human guns, the Drudge guns make splattering noises with their biological ammo, and the Trust guns make zap like noises with their advance technology. When you're hit, you make the basic grunts, explosions sound like you're basic explosions. Nothing special, so an average score here, plus a tad extra for the music and the voice acting. What little bit you hear in the cutscenes was solid, no complaints there.
=Controls= Score - 10
When it came to their biggest claim, controls, HVS exceeded the hype. These.Controls.Are.The.Best.Period. No contest, hands down the best controls on ANY counsel shooter game on the market, and gives the PC a good run for it's money. You can change any button to preform any action, change the deadzone so it's huge and covers most of the screen, or make it so small it works like a PC mouse. You can change how high you can look, how fast you look, the curser sensitivity, turn sensitivity, motion sensitivity, transparency of the HUD, positioning of the pieces of the HUD. I'm fully expecting any company that's intelligent to follow HVS's example here and give the players this must customization. A perfect 10/10. You simply can not find better controls on any gaming system that isn't a PC.
=Multiplayer= Score - 8
This is the big one everyone is worried about. Is the multiplayer good, or is it a lag, glitch, hacker feast like some Nintendo games have become, such as Metroid Prime: Hunters? The 12 player wifi mode of The Conduit is what everyone was looking forward to. With a good number of maps, modes modes such as Bounty Hunter, ASE, Deathmatches, and weapon sets, it looked like a dream come true. But, there are some issues. The voting system isn't everyone's favorite, as it allows the masses to get their favorites almost everytime. You can't have every type of weapon out at once, you're stuck playing something like Human Set, or Near/Far. The maps are VERY plain when it comes to details. Relatively balanced, some creation in the layout, but rather boring and sometimes confusing and frustrating to navigate. Lag is an issue, particularly in the Explosive weapon set with 12 people. 3 days in, and glitches have already been found. Hackers already have their first set out. Sometimes, the game freezes up, forcing you to restart the Wii.
FCs are another pain. You can only add 32 people that way, and you can add another 32 people through their Wii Code. Wiispeak works with this game, but only with your friends, or friends of friends.
Finding a game you can join can be another huge pain. You can't back out during the time you are trying to hook up to a game, and sometimes you simply can not join a person. If this happens, you are forced to restart your Wii. Even if this doesn't happen, it takes several minutes to join a group best case scenario.
While troubling, most of these issues are uncommon, and shouldn't get much in the way of enjoying online, provided you have done all you can on your end to reduce lag. Playing with friends mainly greatly helps this. The lag and glitches knocks the multiplayer down a few points, and this is where HVS failed the most to meet the hype. It's better then the rest of the Wii shooters' multiplayer, but not by much.
=Summery= - Real Score - 8.4 Gamefaqs Score - 8
All in all, HVS managed to make a solid FPS exclusively for the Wii. Add in the fact it was their first one, it's phenomenal what they have accomplished. However, it is not without it's faults, some of them somewhat glaring. Hopefully, these issues will be addressed in the sequel. The Conduit is a step in the right direction, but it needs some tweaking before it can be a true, AAA Wii Exclusive. Buy it nevertheless, even if you own more then one system. Try it out, play it with your friends that own Wiis, see for yourself what the Wii can do currently, and dream about the future as you proudly point to it in your Wii library.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/29/09
Game Release: The Conduit (GameStop Exclusive Special Edition) (US, 06/23/09)
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