Review by ItIsAPsyBorg
"The Wii's "savior" knowingly leaves desperate Wii gamers in starvation"
This game was supposed to be the be-all of the Wii. Having been developed for a preposterous amount of time, I myself invested into hope. The competitive Wii community took a "fulfill us or lose us" stance towards High Voltage Software and Nintendo. Both of the said aforementioned companies were commissioned with a task that seemed to be a plain necessity to most Wii gamers: create a relatively lag free, competitive, and serious game custom-fitted to the needs of the now-desperate hardcore Wii gamer. When combined with the failures of Super Smash Bros. Brawl (although only truly in the online sense) and Call of Duty 5 (terrible lag, "host advantage", glitches, a plethora of weapon imbalances), the magnitude of the Wii community's pleas were exacerbated and resulted in even higher expectations for the game that was believed to mark a new era in Wii gaming. This was judgement day for Nintendo and High Voltage Software; The Conduit had to be a game of unsurpassed excellence.
Of course, it didn't do what it was supposed to do.
Once again, as with all online Wii games (with the exception of Mario Strikers Charged, which still has an online community after 1.9 + years because of the unprecedented quality of the game, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which has terrible online gameplay but continued hype and a stable offline fanbase), Nintendo has failed to deliver on its promise. The Conduit has not only served as a vivid portrayal of the Wii's feebleness to any serious gamer, but has brought about frustration for casual gamers in its unrelentingly imbecilic single player modes and dearth of fun extras. Every single gamer, regardless of age, interest in gaming, or ability, has several reasons to be frustrated with this game.
To start, we have single player mode, which will make any sane man of regular or above average intelligence hurl. The story is stereotypical of science fiction games and flat in a variety of ways. Even for the man who says that a game's story is not its gameplay, the putridity of the plotline is enough to impel some of his stomach fluid outward. It follows the line of "you're a government agent, after a bit of work your advisor has betrayed you and you're now obedient to X mysterious guy that he was fighting against and now you get to kill some aliens." Alas, even without the storyline, there is no gold under the mud. The filth of repetitive corridors, uninterestingly bland enemies, annoyingly inconsistent difficulty, poorly designed bosses, and other miniscule nuisances will subsume you into the muck of single player and sap all of your energy out of you. Too, you will be frustrated by the short length of the campaign, which only spans 10 missions. In addition, you will be outraged at the lack of incentive to play single player, which consists only of concept artwork stored inside the game. On a similar note, for the multiplayer purist, it is of major importance that you never touch single player, for there are no online unlockables that can be obtained through what is essentially menial labor in a sweatshop. In any case, the bottom line is that single player is a great experience for the Wii's masochistic audience, but it is without value for anyone else.
Second, we have graphics that, while of good quality, have not met expectations. High Voltage Software aroused much interest originally by deviating from Nintendo's indifference to graphics. The result of their work on the aesthetic aspect of the game is pathetic in proportion to their supposed labor. We have nothing more than PS2 style graphics for a system that has similar / superior capabilities featured on The Conduit. Hell, even COD5 is more visually appealing on the Wii! Are we to sit back and look at X mundane, undetailed, stereotypical wall and find pleasure in such? Supposedly, HVS thinks that's so. Imagine a Halo-esque setting with the graphics of, say, Medal of Honor: Heroes 2. That accurately defines the nature of The Conduit's visuals, much to our misfortune. Everything feels generic, from the unanimated computer systems and the undetailed walls to the archetypal character models and the plain looks of the armaments featured in the game. In short, we have no reason to stare at The Conduit's graphics in amazement, even as Wii consumers.
When moving on to multiplayer mode, it is a prerequisite in discussing multiplayer to comprehend what it does not have prior to talking about how it presents itself with what it offers. Offline multiplayer is not possible, firstly, which will frustrate many gamers, serious and softcore alike. As an addendum for said gamers, online co-op or LAN play is also not available. In terms of online play, the game only features pre-determined weapon sets as opposed to true customization of weapon spawns. Multiplayer has no leaderboards function; instead, it merely carries a 24 level "experience points" system, which is a very poor substitute for the potential replay value that a leaderboard could provide. Multiplayer also does not feature a comprehensive party or match joining system; it is frustrating to many clan players, for example, to know that the limits of the forced matchmaking system and the usual lack of open spots in a game that come as a result of the matchmaker prevent them from playing with their friends frequently. To make it even worse, The Conduit frequently places said friends on opposite teams when they do play in the same game. Although this may debatably be in poor taste in that it can be considered an effective countermeasure to games where a casual-gaming newbie is angered whilst facing an enemy team that entirely consists of members of a pro clan, it is infuriating to clan members and friends alike when they cannot play with those who they wish to be on a team with. Plus, if said casual newbie doesn't like the clan members, couldn't he just leave the game he's in regardless of the presence of an anti-clan system? In all of the previously mentioned situations of conflict in multiplayer mode, we unearth the reality of The Conduit's true nature: to once again let those who desire a decent Wii game to wallow in hurt.
What multiplayer does have is much a different story. There is indeed lag comparable to Mario Strikers Charged; in other words, relatively low, except in the case of an opponent having an obviously bad connection. Also, HVS has managed to create relatively balanced weapons, with the only "broken" weapon that comes to mind being the Bazooka (which can be eliminated by picking specific weapon spawn presets before a match begins). Still, there is much to be said for what is undesirable. When lag does in fact happen, it is unpredictably occurrent and screws you over to an unfathomable extent. It is handled better than Call of Duty 5 in that you don't need to "lag shoot" (or shoot to the side of where someone is moving to damage them) frequently, but it is persistently aggravating when you are faced with an opponent that jumps all over the screen, sometimes appears on a floor that he is actually above, and / or happens to kill you as you kill him *simultaneously* as understood by the game's mechanics. Multiplayer does offer voice chat if you buy WiiSpeak separately from the game for 30 dollars, but while voice chat is possible, it only exists within the bounds of people who are on your friend roster, meaning you will have to add them in order to speak to them. (On a side note, WiiSpeak is decent, but has some interference every now and then, which can occasionally disrupt the game's audio volume for reasons beyond my conception.) In addition, a major flaw in multiplayer is that the map design is ridiculously terrible. To illustrate one of the stages inside your mind, imagine a large, wide open hallway which is guarded by sniper windows at each of its sides, including the bottom and top sides. There are 2 walls in the middle dividing the stage and limiting entry from the front to each of the walls' single door. The only way to circumvent this is to take an underground path from your side or a stairs path from the middle that both lead to the same alternate exit in the opponent's "area". As can be seen, this is, simply put, a map where people camp and sit back in any of the sides of the stage and wait for someone to pop out so they can snipe them, annihilate them with a bazooka, or get the first shot on them with whatever weapon they have. With a basic map design comes a basic style of gameplay that many will find repetitive, machine-like, and boring.
I truly wish to not disparage The Conduit as energetically as I am doing now. It is the one game that we, the Wii community, all thought would bring back the Wii's reputation as a system of potential. Alas, we are left with an unmistakably deficient excuse for a savior. The game certainly isn't terrible, and it has its good moments, much like any game that doesn't completely suck. It does also have good points such as its ability to (sometimes) handle lag efficiently and its weapon balance, but overall, it is without reservation that I declare that The Conduit simply isn't what we hoped it would be. It's time to do one of three things: return to Mario Strikers Charged if you want a quality online game for the Wii, play Super Smash Bros. Brawl offline with your friends / at a tournament, or switch over to the Xbox 360. I despise having to even mention any of those possibilities, but it is a requirement in a time where a game has failed us and descended into mediocrity when it was supposed to be a quality work.
Overall rating: 6.7 / 10
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 07/02/09
Game Release: The Conduit (GameStop Exclusive Special Edition) (US, 06/23/09)
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