Review by RyuFlamecoft

"Despite Some Flaws, The Conduit Is A Game Definately Worth All-Seeing"

Being a heavy enthusiast in third-party support for the Nintendo Wii, hearing news and seeing screenshots and plans for High Voltage's "The Conduit" made me happily impressed. The thought of a high caliber First Person Shooter on the Wii made almost too much sense, but regardless, I sunk into hype and anticipation. Amazing graphics, perfect gameplay, an intriguing story - could it really happen so well on the Wii to pull me away from my Halo's and Killzone's? After playing through the campaign and a handful of multiplayer matches, a fair conclusion has been made.

GAMEPLAY [7/10]: The campaign in The Conduit, despite delivering a handful of impressive moments, actually falls short not due to its presentation, but quite literally, its length. When it came to the moment of finally reaching the games climactic groove, I couldn't help but feel that it all happened much too quickly, especially for 49.99. This doesn't help when each stage plays out in a very linear fashion along with a disappointing use of the All-Seeing Eye as a tool merely for finding boring secrets or land mines. Essentially, every level plays out in a moving from A to B fashion without too many interesting events in between. Thankfully, High Voltage has managed to make it's levels just exciting enough to warrant playing through it's interesting enemies and guns (and there is quite a selection varying from regular rifles to intense alien technology). Watching insane particles burst and glow, disintegrating enemies was always a treat. There are also a wide range of difficulty levels to really push your skill as a true gamer.

CONTROLS [10/10]: To be honest, there isn't a single flaw in the controls. If one control scheme feels uncomfortable in any way, High Voltage has made sure to let you fix it in any way possible, from changing turn speeds to aiming styles to even mapping out every button on the controller and every icon on the screen however one would like. Obviously, the default may not appeal to everyone (I didn't quite feel right with it myself), but through a few minutes of tweaking (which you can even do mid-play) allowed me to find something I felt was truly "perfect" for a Wii FPS game. Cheers to High Voltage for truly nailing the control formula. My only complaint is that it may feel slightly more shaky than a smoother comparison, Metroid Prime 3 in terms of cursor movement. Perhaps there is room for a sequel?

STORY [7/10]: The story in The Conduit may really come off as a hit or miss with most people. Personally, I found that though the plot moved quite slow in the first half, the end game delivered plot twists even I did not see coming. They set you up in ways to have you guessing what's behind all the alien chaos, and while some may feel obvious, they might not be quite what you expect. Subsequently, I sometimes felt a sense of cliche in the story, but the presentation of it had me simply enjoying it. The biggest complaint merely is from the ending, a very weak cut off with too many loose ends (at least for Mr. Ford), but aren't all conspiracies like that?

GRAPHICS [7/10]: Much like a shiny ripe apple with a bruise in the middle, The Conduit both shines and disappoints in its visuals. Speaking in raw power, High Voltage's Quantum 3 engine has truly pushed the Wii in various aspects - most notable in lighting and particle effects. The water looked great and reflective, while the glow of certain weapons of the Trust and Drudge felt impressive and even more dangerous. Firefights were always accompanied by an array of explosions and sparks flying all over giving an impressive tone. The hands-down most impressive example of how finely crafted some of the graphics had become is through Mr. Ford's upgraded suit and All-Seeing Eye, certain models that even the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 would drool over. However, I must be strict with the reality of the whole picture. These flashy lights can't truly mask every blemish on the face of The Conduit. Background textures were a mess. I almost felt ashamed walking out in one stage where I saw what I think was a city in the distance where in reality it seemed like only a few steps away in a low resolution blur. Through enemies were fun to fight, they lacked variety severely. Most environment textures were simply not polished enough. Most importantly, the art direction felt sadly uninspired. Aside from the conduits themselves, the very few alien-related tentacles and hives, and the final set-piece of the game, there was no sense of city being truly embraced by the grip of the spreading Drudge other than a few piles of rubble. Through the grays and browns of square rooms and cities, one might feel a little bored sometimes when not in battle. This doesn't help when the game commonly loses track of it's frame rate in playable but often depressing ways. Please High Voltage, take a stroll into Metroid Prime 3's Bryyo to get a feel of how an environment alone can set a vibrant mood.

SOUND [8/10]: Though the script isn't always very strong, all the voice actors do very well in their jobs of delivering what needs to be said. Mr. Ford however sometimes doesn't sound as strong as he should with his comments often coming off as bored or without energy. I especially like the voice of John Adams - it fits his character quite well. All the guns also happen to sound very well. Each of them sound as they should and more. There definitely isn't a case of "Bionic Commando" as even the pistol sounds and feels like it packs a punch (which it does) while alien weapons have that signature "PEW PEW PEW" we are all accustomed to. During firefights, the cries of men and aliens along with explosions and guns can really relieve any boredom from the bland level designs, and for that I commend it. Also, pay attention to the music itself sometimes, there are certain key fights where it really picks up to an almost recallable tune. The title screen's theme is especially fun to listen to.

MULTIPLAYER [9/10]: Finally, an online game for the Wii I actually enjoy quite well. High Voltage grants it's players a fine sense of care into how they have treated their multiplayer aspect. With games up to 12 players, an experience rank system, customizable character skins, a variety of maps, and an array of game types featuring my ever so loved array of sweet guns, even someone who plays their Halo's and Killzone's may find that little spark of joy in gunning down opponents with Wii controls. Lag is thankfully not too much of an issue as it is essentially the same amount you will get out of the campaign anyways. Also, with the power of Nintendo's godsend for voice chat, Wii Speak, players may actually let each other know what their friend codes are IN GAME *gasp*. I know, it's almost too much to handle, but The Conduit will have you covered in the multiplayer department.

REPLAY VALUE [8/10]: Essentially, with a scattered set of collectibles throughout each level (some of which I find devilishly hard to find), in-game achievements, a robust online multiplayer mode, and unlockable options to alter the single player experience, there are more than enough reasons to play through The Conduit, if not just to try to figure out the story again once and for all. This goes even better with a variety of difficult levels of play to choose from.

PROS:
+Great Shooting / Cool Guns
+Amazing Controls
+Some Fantastic Visuals
+Deep Online Multiplayer
+Great Sound Effects / Music
+Good Replay Value Attributes
+The Voice Acting
+The Story Is A Hit Or Miss

CONS:
-Very Linear Levels
-Weak Art Direction
-Certain Textures Are A Mess
-Very Basic Gameplay
-Way Too Short
-The Story Is A Hit Or Miss

THE VERDICT [7/10]: Honestly, High Voltage's "The Conduit" is not for everyone. Much like many fine things in life, it has an aquired taste. Though the shooting is fun and action packed, the design and story elements might simply not attract certain gamers. It really seems like they perfected the machinery while forgetting the art. However, I believe any Wii owner that considered themselves true gamers should definitely check this game out. It some ways it disappoints - but at the end of the day, High Voltage raises the bar for third party Wii developers to really give example of how unexpected genres can really shine amongst a flurry of party and exercise games. It certainly was a great but for myself, and in playing it to this day, I can say that my other shooters may be collecting a little dust for the time being.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 06/30/09

Game Release: The Conduit (US, 06/23/09)


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