N+ Review: The Conduit
By Joel Lutherlutherjw. Saturday, July 25, 2009 5:07:16 AM
The Conduit, from High Voltage Software, was universally acclaimed as the most anticipated third-party Wii title of 2009. The developer, previously known for titles such as Dora Saves the Snow Princess, promised they would make The Conduit "the definitive first-person shooter experience for the Wii." Does The Conduit live up to the hype, or does this Cinderella story end with a rotting pumpkin? Read on to find out.
Ever since The Conduit was unveiled in April 2008, and ever since the first footage of the game's Quantum3 engine began to appear online, the level of care and polish put into the game has been undeniable. High Voltage Software had only one goal in mind: to make the best game they possibly could. In the months leading up to the game's release, it looked like they were on the right track: stellar graphics for the Wii, completely customizable controls, high-profile voice actors, and a cool soundtrack. Thankfully, after quite a long wait, The Conduit is here, and we at N+ have had more than enough time to put it to the test.
Let's start with the basics: story. You play as Secret Service agent Michael Ford, who after saving the President's life, is recruited by a secret organization known as the Trust. Several strange events take place in Washington, D.C., and it soon becomes clear that these are the results of an alien invasion in America's capital. Working with John Adams, head of the Trust, you must do whatever it takes to stop these aliens, the Drudge, from taking over the country. There are a few twists and turns along the way, and that's where we'll stop talking so you can "uncover the conspiracy" for yourself. While certainly not the most original we've heard from a recent first-person shooter, the story in The Conduit does integrate well with the gameplay, and it's just enough to keep you playing until the very end.
As you make your way through the single player campaign, you'll unfortunately notice that both enemies and environments are limited. In our playthrough, we could only count about a dozen different types of enemies, many of which perform near identical attacks. The enemy AI is impressive, though, as long as you're playing on a higher-than-normal difficulty setting. As for the environments, much of your playtime will be spent in cramped corridors, small offices, or wide-open battlefields. The game does cover a lot of ground, but it feels, unfortunately, like everything is the same with different aesthetics.
A device known as the All Seeing Eye, or ASE, marks a unique feature of the game - one that is used for both puzzles and revealing secrets. The ASE projects a light that can be used to uncover secret messages, traps, enemies, and puzzles. Puzzles in The Conduit feel like an afterthought, however, as there are really only two varieties: you either twist rings to match up with the ASE's projected light symbol, or you look for hidden bio-nodes in order to unlock doors. Secrets added throughout the game do add some replayability, though, as each level has several hidden messages and "Trust Data Disks," which are used to unlock extras like concept art galleries.
All in all, the single player campaign offers only 5-6 hours of strictly linear gameplay. It's fun while it lasts, as a simple "run and gun" type of game, but those who long for added depth and exploration may be left wanting more.
That brings us to the multiplayer. Whatever faults we found with the single-player mode, the multiplayer almost more than makes up for them. With thirteen robust multiplayer modes, seven different maps, and eight weapon sets to choose from, it's clear the online play in The Conduit is no child's play. If we had to compare, we'd say The Conduit's multiplayer most resembled that of Mario Kart Wii, but really, the game is in a league of its own. You sign on, the game finds up to eleven suitable opponents, and then you simply vote on the mode, map and weapons you'd like to use. The modes themselves are nothing to laugh at, with variants on deathmatches, capture the flag, and several modes unique to The Conduit, like ASE Football. Likewise, the maps are also impressive, giving plenty of variety and space for your firefights. The game also supports friend play, which utilizes Nintendo's dreaded Friend Code system. As long as you have someone's code, and you're in contact with them, it shouldn't be a problem to blast your buddies in the face any time you like. Fortunately, you can also import friends from your Wii Friend List, and you can even send requests to friends of friends. The Conduit also marks the second Wii game to support the Wii Speak peripheral, which works based on an inclusion system: you only hear the six people closest to you or the members of your team. In our tests, we couldn't detect any noticeable lag, and everything seemed to work exactly as you'd expect.
There are two seemingly simple yet extremely important factors that make The Conduit outstanding as a first-person shooter on the Wii: graphics and customization. From the very moment you boot up the game, it's clear to see just how much work went into the graphical presentation of the game. Particle effects, bump mapping, reflection and refraction, light projections, specular effects, interactive water, animated textures, and more are included in the game, which runs at a smooth 30 frames-per second. The Conduit stands up against the best looking games on the system, and we wouldn't hesitate to say it's the most visually impressive third-party Wii game on the market. As for customization, literally every part of the controls and every part of the interface is customizable. Players are able to change the HUD placement, the HUD transparency, the bounding box, turning speed, run speed, controller sensitivity, controller layout, and a lot more. It seems simple on the surface, but being able to customize everything means that no player should be disappointed by the controls. They're the best we've ever experienced in a console first-person shooter.
As cliched as it sounds, The Conduit is an outstanding experience if you only own a Wii. The multiplayer, graphics, and customization options are superb. Multiplatform owners, however, have little incentive to stop playing Halo or Call of Duty 4.
Game: The Conduit
Developed by: High Voltage Software
Genre: First-person Shooter
Release Date: NA: June 23, 2009; UK: July 10, 2009; AUS: July 16, 2009
Rating: ESRB: T; OFLC: M; PEGI: 16+
Supports WFC: Yes
N+ Superb Wii graphics
N+ Complete customization
N+ Extensive, fun, 12-player multiplayer
N+ Wii Speak support
N+ Excellent controls
N- Disappointing single-player campaign
N- Generic story
N- Lack of local multiplayer
2ND OPINION: Captain Seagull
Graphics are excellent, proof that if developers take time to make a good looking game, they can. The good looks are shown in bump mapping, textures, effects, and lighting. The buildings and environments still look low on polygon count though, but not bad by any means.
Single player is dated. It's basically Perfect Dark from N64, but you play as a guy. So while it's nothing to hate, because PD was really fun, there is just nothing new going on. It's good enough for you to want to complete, the incentive is not there to get you to replay the campaign.
Multiplayer is why anyone with an online Wii will want to pick this thing up - it's not just the only (good) multiplayer shooter on Wii, it's an amazing one! Since its release I have only played two matches with lag, and both matches had a full 12-player set. Otherwise, it's superb! The fun you get is the fun you had while playing Goldeneye 64, as long as your buddies have Wii Speak and time, you will end up playing Conduit all night long. The drawback is no local multiplayer, as it really should have been easy to do and they passed up on it. The ability to send a "Friend Request" to your Wii friends is really welcome; you never have to look at the Conduit friend code they gave you. If your friend accepts - you become Conduit friends too.
2nd Opinion N+ Points
N+ The visuals are top notch, even if buildings are extra generic.
N+ Complete customization of buttons, motion controls, AND the HUD!
N+ Amazing online play, flawless victory.
N+ Friend Requests. Delicious!
N+ Wii Speak support
N+ Excellent controls - fully customizable.
2nd Opinion N- Points
N- Generic single player campaign. Nothing new in game-play or story.
N- Lack of local multiplayer.
2nd Opinion JudgmeN+: 8.5