Review by CelticLink94
"It's Time to Go to Work..."
In the past few years, Nintendo has gotten the reputation of being a "kiddy" system, only worthwhile for party games and minigame collections. Yet developer High Voltage Software set out to change that perception by introducing "The Conduit": A Sci-Fi shooter that promised to have the best graphics, gameplay, controls and wifi on Nintendo's latest console. The question is, did High Voltage achieve their goals or fall short of the mark??
One of the main goals that High Voltage had in mind when first starting production on this game was to produce a top notch visual game that rivaled the graphics on the PS3 and XBOX360, two more technically impressive consoles. Looking at the game now, the graphics may not be top notch for those systems, but they definitely wouldn't seem out of place on a PS3 or Xbox launch list. Therefore, as far as the Wii goes, these graphics blow nearly everything else out of the water. Save for maybe Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3, The Conduit stands tall as the graphical leader for the Nintendo Wii. Using an impressive new game engine, Quantum 3, High Voltage was able to use light reflection and refraction, water effects, bloom lighting, and real time shadows. Although the graphics were toned down in Multiplayer to keep up frame rate, the game still looks beautiful no matter which mode you play.
Graphics Score: 10/10
The sound in this game doesn't really stand out, but it would be much more noticeable if the sound was anything less than it was. The atmospheric music which changes the mood and intensity of the music based on the gameplay isn't really memorable, but if it wasn't there the game would seem rather lifeless. The voice acting is pretty good, save for Mr. Ford (who seems bored and emotionless through most of the game), and the sounds of troops shouting orders or reacting to shots is pretty believable. The gunshots also sound realistic, and the clatter of gunfire in the distance adds to the atmosphere, especially in multiplayer.
Sound Score: 8/10
The controls in this game are touted as the best controls for any game, and I for one completely agree. This is achieved through the ability to completely customize the controller layout, sensitivity, visor makeup, HUD placement, and dead zone. All of this makes it pretty much impossible to not find a controller setup you don't like. I for one switched around the controls so that the basic actions like grenades, reloading, and melee were all mapped to buttons, so in the heat of battle I'm not flailing my arms around trying to toss a grenade or hit someone with the butt of my gun. Overall, the amount of customization really stands out as a bright spot for the game.
Controls Score: 10/10
Gameplay: Single Player
The gameplay in the single player is decent, but is much more linear than most games. Throughout the game, you'll get an overwhelming sense of run and gun gameplay, which is what a majority of the game is about. There are slight puzzle mechanics and hacking sequences accomplished through the incorporation of a special tool called the All Seeing Eye, but they are by no means gimmicky and do not detract from the experience. The AI, which was also touted as being "highly advanced" is a bit above so so on the default "guarded difficulty". Enemies will take cover and shoot from around corners, but they have a knack for staying out of cover for just a bit too long. However, bumping up the difficulty level can quickly remedy the situation. Also, as you progress through the somewhat short campaign (only 9 levels including the tutorial), the enemies ramp up in difficulty. By the end of the campaign you'll be facing impressive mini bosses with the strength of a tank, flying gunners who will skillfully dodge attacks, and even invisible super soldiers who will only become visible by scanning them with the ASE.
Like I said, the campaign in total is only 9 levels, and will range in gameplay time from between 6-10 hours, depending on how deep you go. For the completionist, you can run and gun through the campaign rather quickly. But for those who wish to uncover the backstory and go indepth into the scenario, secrets, broadcasts and other goodies will keep you busy. An achievements system and unlockable cheats also encourage players to go back and unlock all of the secrets in order to gain achievements and cheats to use in single player.
Single Player Gameplay Score: 8/10
Gameplay: Multi Player
This is the really drawing point for gamers: from the start, HVS promised a robust and deep multi player mode that would put every other wifi game to shame. Now, up until this game, Mario Kart Wii was seen as the Gold Standard for Wii online games. However, I think that in time, The Conduit will take over that position. When you first log on to wifi, you will get to choose between friend matches, regional matches, and worldwide matches. Friend matches pit you against ppl you've exchanged friend codes with, or you friend request through the new "Add Wii Friends" feature. Xbox Live it is not, but it is a step in the right direction. There was just something that felt right about sending confirmation messages through the game rather than punching in numbers. Also, if you join a friends game and one of their friends is on, you can add that friend without a code.
Regional and Worldwide matches include free for all modes, Team Reaper (team deathmatch) and Team Objective. Free for all pits everyone against everyone in games like ASE football (where the player who holds onto the ASE the longest wins), Marathon (a 20 minute deathmatch), and the new and impressive bounty hunter, where you attack only your target in the playing field, while someone hunts you down. You don't know who your hunter is, but if you kill someone who you think is the hunter and he is not, you lose points. Team Reaper has the basic deathmatch and shared stock, where one team is alotted 50 lives, and Team Objective has games like capture the flag and other variants. Once you choose a category, you join a room and vote on the game mode, the weapon set (anything from human weapons to alien weapons, close combat sets to a set which is dominated by rocket launcers), and which of the seven in depth and large maps you want to play on. Then, once that starts, you can remain in the room as long as you want, while hosting duties switch around as each host leaves. This helps to avoid the problems other games have when the host has the ability to close down the room. Throw in some model customization and Wiispeak capability, and you have yourself quite the multiplayer.
However..., the multiplayer is where the majority of the game's problems occur. As of a week into the game's life, glitches have been reported that vary from spawning outside the level (leaving you unable to shoot or move), starting the game with not reticule and in complete darkness, and even the Wii freezing completely. The connection speed when opening a room is also slow, as it takes on average about 5 minutes to log into a room. However, the upside there is that once in a room, the only way you leave is on your own terms... or, if your connection is lost. I will admit, these problems can be frustrating at times, but most of them can probably be attributed to Nintendo's anemic servers not being able to handle the amount of players, graphics, and variants going on in each game.
Multiplayer gameplay score :8/10
So, to rent or buy?? I would suggest buying, as this game I feel isn't one you can play and forget about. Wifi problems aside, this game is really fun and is something that, although not revolutionary, is something that has never been done to this extent on the Wii. If you only have a Wii and are in need of a quality FPS, this is a must buy. However, if you don't have wifi, or own an Xbox or PS3, this game probably won't seem the unique to you and you may regret spending 50 dollars for something that has either been done much better on other systems, or doesn't really hold alot of single player value after beating the campaign.
+Deep, robust Multiplayer
+Wiispeak, networking capabilities
-Campaign is short
-Not a lot of single player replay value
-Slow log in times for wifi
-Several glitches right off the bat
Final Score: 8/10
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: The Conduit (GameStop Exclusive Special Edition) (US, 06/23/09)
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