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The Conduit is a first person shooter title from Sega, designed from the ground up for Nintendo's Wii console. It follows the exploits of secret agent Michael Ford as he discovers a mysterious alien conspiracy unfolding in the shadows of Washington D.C. Taking orders from "The Trust," a covert (and very patriotic) branch of the secret service, Ford must save the day while visiting a series of D.C's most famous landmarks.
Of course, The Conduit is Sega's answer to gaming's biggest mystery; why is the Wii so devoid of decent first person shooter games. As a big fan of the genre, I can say that shooters were one of the deciding factors in my Wii purchase. Unfortunately, the dismal reception of launch title, Red Steel, and a run of further poor responses has killed off the Wii-shooter. It's a bit of a surprise when you consider that the pointing and aiming function of the wii-mote is the one area where the Wii fully delivers on its many promises. Some of the most immersive titles on the console are arcade style on-rails shooters.
The Conduit built up quite a bit of hype pre-release by promising to change all that, boasting a game engine designed for the Wii from the ground up, anticipation was high. Sega also promised to turn the tide of cheap, ugly games slumping on to the Wii with an engine capable of sophisticated shader effects and mapping techniques, somewhat ambitiously promising "comparable to Xbox 360 and PS3" visuals. So, does The Conduit deliver on its many promises?
Graphically, it's honestly quite hard to tell. I have come to the opinion that the Wii's biggest shortcoming visually is its failure to support higher resolutions. While resolution isn't everything, on a digitally rendered image it certainly counts for something. Unfortunately, any visual flair The Conduit does have is obscured by a lack of pixels. It just doesn't have the dots to show off. A lack of resolution certainly doesn't hamper a nice, colourful yet simple game like Super Mario Galaxy but really doesn't help a crowded airport much. The shading and lighting effects in the game could far excel anything on a high end PC and it wouldn't matter because the overall picture just isn't detailed enough to see it. That's not to say the graphics are bad, they're actually quite effective for a wii game. Of course, the important part of that sentence is, as always, "for a wii game." But its nice to see the a developer is not settling for any old rubbish because it will sell a million copies anyway (of the "wii special" as it's known.) While it might not live up to the hype, it is still one of the few Wii titles where it's clear that some effort has been taken with both the graphics and the style. They are functional, if somewhat drab, though never beautiful. If I had one criticism it was that often very dark scenes totally obscured pathways or doorways, leaving me exploring the same room over and over looking for some hidden switch when I actually needed to walk up a set of stairs effectively rendered invisible by shadow. The game does have a "flashlight" of sorts but it's really more of an Arkham Asylum style detective mode device and only lights up one tiny spot at a time.
Thankfully, the gameplay is quite solid. A lot of effort has gone into making The Conduit play better than most other shooters on the Wii and it definitely achieves this goal. Aiming and turning is done with the Wii-mote and it certainly works a lot better than Red Steel though probably not as tightly as Modern Warfare. Beyond aiming, they keep motion control limited. Flicking the nunchuck will throw a grenade and that's fairly natural. I didn't particularly care for the melee attack, where a flick of the wii-mote would have felt natural they have opted instead for a "push toward the screen" motion that is hard to get used to. However, the overall setup does become comfortable eventually and there's a nice range of options included to tweak the various sensitivities. Eventually you'll get it set up nicely for you and you can blast through the game. You will also make use of the "all seeing eye," essentially a magic eight ball that can find invisible messages and switches and hack into computers. It's a nice addition at first but soon becomes routine.
It's a pity that a rather solid control system is used for a rather mediocre game. The campaign is not particularly long, I got through it in around six hours I think, and not much happens in that time. The plot is bizarrely complex, providing very little background info, and at the best of times it seemed to be an excuse to lead you through the bowels of various landmarks. I'm not genius but by the end of the story I honestly had no idea what was going and had given up trying some time ago. I had kept up until the first plot twist but after that it got away from me somewhat and I decided to just ignore that aspect and move on.
In game action is usually pretty fun, there is a nice variety of different settings though they are punctuated by a series of very similar basements. Eventually eponymous conduit's are introduced and you will encounter more alien elements, unfortunately even with the universe at their disposal the developers rehash a lot of monsters, even bosses. Often this game reminded me too much of Half Life 2, the basic enemies are the same combat gear clad, faceless wonders interspersed with the occasional alien and the game has definitely taken inspiration from there along the way. In the end though there are some pretty enjoyable moments and despite the repetitive nature, it doesn't get boring.
There is a multiplayer mode which is nice to see. It's the usual First Person Shooter style arenas and games that I'm frankly so bored of now I didn't play it for too long. However, I certainly wouldn't be deducting any stars because I didn't enjoy it; I don't enjoy any of them and I freely admit they're not there for me. If you enjoy online multiplayer with your FPS, I'm sure you'll have a blast. This mode seemed particularly good for a Wii online function, I didn't have trouble finding a game nor did I get booted out repeatedly. It is also compatible with wii speak but I don't own one so I can't comment.
When I arrived at the end of The Conduit I wasn't sure exactly how I felt, it hadn't been the rollercoaster ride of fun and excitement needed to make my favourites but it wasn't bad either; and that in itself is significant. This is a game that was pitched as a "halo killer" and if you go into it with those expectations you'll be disappointed. The Conduit is not in the same league as Halo, Metroid Prime, Killzone 2 etc. but it deserves points for being the first Wii game that's actually playing the same sport. It puts me in a difficult position really, on the one hand The Conduit really isn't that remarkable a game. On the Ps3 or Xbox 360 it would probably be a flop but Wii owners have remarkably small choice in this area and it does offer comparable gameplay, if not visuals. On top of that, the Wii-mote is fun for shooters when you find a good one and so gamers familiar with the best shooters on other consoles will probably still enjoy that aspect of it. Despite its shortcomings, I'm glad I own it and I did have a lot of fun playing it.
The Conduit comes packaged in a pleasant cardboard sleeve, sporting some guff about Special Edition and exclusive unlockables. This is the only version available however and even if you see it without the outer sleeve, you're not losing anything but a little booklet with some art and developer quotes. It's been out a while now and if you shop around you can probably find it for around the £10 to £15 mark, definitely worth a buy.
The Conduit is a relatively mild shooter, it's clearly grounded in a fantasy style setting (think slightly more serious Men in Black film type action) but while it doesn't feature gore or blood, you do shoot a lot of people along the way. There doesn't seem to be too much in the way of profanity, casual sadism or wandering erotica but I'd still advise parents check out a few vids on youtube of the game (or better yet, give it a play) before placing it in the hands of young children. I'd have no qualms about handing it over to a 13 year old.
A solitary main character who prefers working on their own, massively varying environments and monstrous looking enemies. This may sound familiar to fans of the Metroid Prime series and this is no coincidence. Though it is not named as inspiration for The Conduit, it is obvious, to me at least, that High Voltage took some inspiration from the series, along with Cloverfield and War of the Worlds. Prior to release, High Voltage had promised a great looking game, claiming they would produce a fun and unique shooter whilst putting a lot of focus on the graphical side of the game even to the rather outlandish claim of being close to PS3/360 standard. Published by Sega, this is the third 'mature' title (in the sense of being a serious game) that they have brought to the Wii with critical acclaim (with the other two being MadWorld and The House of the Dead: Overkill) It is clear that High Voltage have put a lot of effort and work into developing this game, however this does not always convert into a great game. Luckily, in this case, the hype surrounding the game prior to release was very well deserved. I will firstly analyse the graphical side of the game, as that was one of the game's main draw points.
High Voltage certainly gave themselves a mountain to climb in making this gaming, generally saying that the graphics would be similar to games on the PS3/360 but more specifically including graphical effects not normally present in Wii games, such as bump mapping and other complex graphical effects. Fancy technical words aside, to put it simply, The Conduit was supposed to be graphically amazing. I took this claim with a slight pinch of salt, alas when I received and played the game I was shocked that the developers claims were completely accurate. The only game which can possibly rival The Conduit in terms of graphics is Super Mario Galaxy and even then, the former runs much smoother and some of the graphical effects are simply superb and are indeed getting very close to PS3/360 standards.
I find every game to have four main graphical elements, the environment, the enemies, your weaponry (and the various weaponry you can use) and the menus. The environments are very varied, ranging from an airport terminal to the Whitehouse and even to the graphically amazing laboratory area. Despite being graphically impressive, the environments are where the game does show the Wii's power limitations in comparison to the other consoles as some of the building outlines look a bit jagged against the skyline and some of the rock patterns can be a bit blocky. This aside however, the environments are graphically pleasing and diverse, whilst the unique art style of the Aliens themselves and the related items connected to them (the Conduits, Regen units and the Ammo supply units) stands out and makes the game even more visually interesting and unique.
The enemies are all vary varied and some have clearly had some inspiration drawn from Cloverfield (the Mites), Metroid Prime series (the Drones) and War of the Worlds (the Invaders) There are two main types of enemy, the Alien enemies are very detailed and visually unique whilst the Human enemies are even more detailed, specifically the enemies in the Hazmat style suits. What should be applauded is the way the enemies die, for example shooting a running Human enemy has them stumble and fall realistically (the developers employed motion captured animation to ensure Human enemies died realistically. Certain weapons also kill enemies in a graphically different way, such as the radiation grenades which cause the enemy to burn without a trace after long exposure and the Carboniser which disintegrates the enemy after exposure.
Your weaponry and the few parts of your character you can see (the hands/gloves) are generally well detailed. The human weaponry is the best looking, whilst it is not hugely creative (the average handgun, submachine gun etc) they are superbly detailed. The 'Trust' weapons are just as highly detailed, even down to a tiny 'warning' label on the some weapons. The alien weapons are very creative, they look almost like living creatures, as they move and look organic. Despite the unique look, they are not as clear and detailed as the other weaponry. The different ammunition fired from the guns all look detailed, especially the 'Trust' and Alien weaponry. Without gloves your characters hands are not greatly detailed, but with the Trust suit they looks very detailed and clear.
The menus are all very futuristic and in a relaxing dark blue colour contrasting with white. Rather than soft gentle corners The Conduit opts for a sharp corners and edges in the menus. The HUD is very unobtrusive and never draws your attention away from the action. There are three main centres of information on screen. On the left is the permanent health bar, a simple green bar. Just below it is your grenade display, it shows how many and what types of grenades you have left. Below that is the occasional yellow text that comes up displaying when an objective is added/completed. In the top right corner is the weapon display, it shows the weapon you are holding, the ammo left in the clip and the ammo left in total. A small icon of your other weapon is also displayed. Other areas of the screen also have objects that show up occasionally, for example an ASE icon in the bottom left of the screen when something ASE compatible is near.
The graphics in The Conduit are top notch, the water effects, the different death animations of enemies and the depth of field effect when looking through your scope/binoculars. Also worth mention is the so called 'colour curve' which drains the colour from the game as you lose health, gradually decreasing until when near death, the game is near enough in black and white. The game itself has excellent graphics, but it is the aforementioned small features like the depth of field effect that graphically separate the game from anything else on the Wii. Graphically superb, The Conduit is, in my opinion, the best looking Game on the Wii (and from a third party developer no less!)
A graphical masterpiece of a game is nothing without great gameplay. The Conduit is a FPS and has faced criticism for not being different, though I don't know how a FPS can be made completely different in terms of gameplay. The FPS shooter is played as expected, though one of the games major plus points is the completely customisable controls. The main gameplay feature that differs from other games is the All Seeing Eye (or ASE), a futuristic piece of technology featured in the game that spends almost all of the game in your possession.
This ASE is key to unlocking doors, which rather than finding a key has you finding 'invisible' nodules which need to be charged with the ASE. The ASE finds these and more by working like a flashlight, the beam goes in front of you (wherever the Wiimote is pointed), it guides you towards you target by setting off a beeping alarm whenever you get close to anything that sets it off. Other things that can be found by the ASE are hidden (but non vital) messages scribbled on the wall, charging up ghost mines to explode them from safety, collecting (again, non vital) 'Trust Discs', locating hidden weapon caches, de-camouflaging a particularly dangerous type of enemy and by hacking computer terminals.
The non vital elements are not needed to complete the game or even fully understand it. However they will be described in more detail in the 'longevity' section, as they are a major part of the game's overall lifespan. The weapon caches are located when your ASE warning comes up and you can use it to solve a (very easy) puzzle in order to unlock the weapon cache, which usually contains a prototype weapon, grenades, health, a certain type of ammunition dump and other weaponry, finding these makes the level significantly easier. The ASE also has another function, pressing the B button shows you to path to your objective, but not once during the game did I require this function, as useful as it first appeared.
Picking up weapons dropped by enemies and found on the floor is important to your success, you start the level with two weapons, though the best weapons (such as the Shrieker, SMAW and the Carboniser can only be picked up from enemies, weapon caches or (rarely) lying around. The weapons all react differently, as expected the more powerful weapons give a large recoil (the Carbonizer and SMAW) and different weapons have different accuracy over different ranges (for example the MP5 submachine gun is notoriously inaccurate and long range, especially if fired in full automatic)
Whilst the core of the gameplay is not new, being a FPS, the ASE does a lot to help bring the game up to a high standard. The idea of respawning conduits is also a good one, preventing you from always taking a cautious approach and sometimes a headstrong attack is the only way forward. The three different types of weapons help give the game a different feel, especially using the unusual alien weapons. As stated, The Conduit does not come up with anything completely new in terms of gameplay, however it performs admirably and has enough to set it apart from other FPS games.
I have heard criticism of The Conduit in regards to its plot, apparently not everyone likes a conspiracy-style plot. I cannot hint at the plot without ruining it, but even I did not see the twist in the penultimate level. The plot often unfurls throughout the level and the plot device prior to the level is described prior to your mission, outlining your mission but also what you plan to achieve. I personally liked the plot, though at times it did provide too little information to fully understand what is going on.
The first music you hear is the menu music which is catchy and clear. There is music present in levels, usually indiscernible but often picks up during the parts of the game with more enemies. The music performed is of high quality, with notable credit going to the composer Diego Stocco. The sound effects however are of the best quality, including the death cries of human enemies who have been painfully deatomised. All the sound effects are fully appropriate and of very good quality, varying the sound of gunfire depending on distance (making gunfire much less repetitive) The other sounds are the voice acting which is also of a high quality, Kevin Sorbo deserves notable praise as the voice of Prometheus. The music is very good quality but is not spectacularly good like some other games already on the Wii.
If The Conduit does have any negative points, it is the longevity. A newcomer to the game, with the game on normal difficulty, should complete the game in 6-9 hours, naturally this will vary upon the gamer's skill. There are two collectable items in game, the first are readable wall messages (they need to be translated by the ASE), they are often referring to moments in history which have attracted the attention of Ufologists, such as Roswell and Shag Harbour and also in game references to alien races. These are non vital to the game and once scanned will remain translated if the level is replayed. The other collectable are the Trust Discs, there are ten such discs in most levels, and when a certain number are picked up they unlock a concept art gallery (of which there are six) I do not normally value art galleries but in The Conduit they are genuinely worth unlocking. In order to get 100% game completion all messages and discs must be collected.
The Conduit does employ an achievement system, which does contribute to the completion rate and thus to the longevity of the game for the completionists. There are varying achievements, such as killing 250 enemies with the SMAW rocket launcher or killing 250 Drones. Some are completed without knowing but some you will have to go out and search for (such as killing 25 Invaders, of which there are 4-5 in the entire game so replaying levels will be required) The achievements to give the game some added longevity and save the game from being a quality but short game. Those who enjoy the game will enjoy playing through certain levels again (I find the airport level particularly enjoyable to replay) by notching up the difficulty up to almost impossible levels. I find the game very fun to play and for me it has a very long lifespan, however for some player I understand it may not have the life of some other games on the console, and even some FPS games already present (Metroid Prime 3, Call of Duty World at War) do have better longevity.
Value for Money
Longevity however is not the only factor for a games value for money, the unique experience offered by The Conduit and its awesome graphics do make this game a must buy. The sheer effort but into this game is phenomenal, and it is hard to see how they squeezed this much graphical quality out of the Wii. The effort was translated into graphical and gameplay greatness, and for this reason alone it should be considered good value for money. A new special edition (complete with an art book, special exterior box case and promo-codes for a new ASE skin, a Drone character skin for single player and an Agent skin for multiplayer) is currently about £28. For this price it has to be a must buy, the graphics are the best on the Wii, and the game itself is one of the best games, and certainly the best third party game available.
The multiplayer on The Conduit can only be described as superb. There is no multiplayer available on the console alone (split screen etc), the only multiplayer mode is by playing online via Nintendo WFC. The Conduit supports Wii Speak which is used in game to talk to the other players. There are three options, playing against friends (recommended as they won't leave mid match), regional and worldwide (I do not recommend this unless you are very skilled, some of the players are almost unbeatable)
Multiplayer has many modes, grouped into three types (which are voted on by all players prior to the match starting) Free-For-All, where there are no teams and everyone plays for themselves, there are elimination matches including ones with a set number of times, a time limit and a kill limit. There is also the very fun 'ASE Football' where the aim is to hold the ASE longer than any other player (running whilst avoid being killed or killing anyone with the ASE and stealing it) The bounty hunter mode can get very confusing, you must only kill your assigned target, killing any other player is penalised via a point deduction.
The other two modes are team modes. The first is Team Reaper, team modes which are primarily killing based (either a kill limit, a time limit or a shared life 'pool' which each team must eliminate of the other) Team Objective is, as titled, a team game with a non kill (usually) aim, including a regular capture-the-flag (with either a capture limit or a time limit), a capture-the-flag with a twist (there is one shared flag between the teams) and a capture-the-flag with a regular capture limit but also a kill limit.
The multiplayer mode itself plays beautifully, over my mediocre speed broadband, even playing against worldwide players, played with very little lag at all and it certainly did not affect the game. Up to twelve different players can play and even at the limit of twelve there is not a huge amount of lag. There are seven different diverse maps (but are changed from the environment counterpart in single player mode) and many different weapons to use. The multiplayer mode The Conduit offers is possibly the best multiplayer offering on the Wii, with only Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros Brawl being on a par.
The Conduit is a real gem of a game, those that say the Wii cannot provide good graphics should be forced to play this game and they will happily retract their statement. However it is not just the graphics that make The Conduit great, it is the fun gameplay. It may play like an average FPS but it is hard to say how it could be changed, the ASE offers a welcome distraction to shooting bad guys and the plot is very good (I have heard the criticism it has received and I find it rather unwarranted) The multiplayer is just as good as gaming magazines have pointed out and when I played it, it was some of the best fun I have had over Nintendo WFC since playing Mario Kart Wii. Some levels may be a bit generic and tedious but some are very well thought out in structure and style (the airport, the laboratory and the streets of the river district. Put simply, The Conduit is one of the best games on the Wii, I do realise it has not been given massive media acclaim but I feel many of these reviews were unfair and it seemed like they were playing a different game. I very highly recommend this is a purchase, even if only to see the outstanding graphical job that High Voltage managed to do.
Thanks for reading, any comments you have will be gratefully received. Also on Ciao.
The Conduit is a futuristic first-person shooter video game developed by High Voltage Software, which has been built around the Quantum 3, engine, a game engine designed by High Voltage Software specifically for the Wii console.
The story of the game focuses on an alien invasion of Washington, D.C. in the near future. The alien race, known as the Drudge, uses the eponymous portal-like Conduits to deploy their forces throughout the city. A shadow government organization called the Trust sends newly inducted agent Michael Ford into the area initially to disrupt a terrorist threat, but he quickly becomes embroiled in the fight to stop the invasion and save the capital from destruction.
Gameplay is excellent which uses both the left and right Wii controllers. The Control system is fully customizable with a huge amount of options to close from. As well as the single player this game also has 13 competitive multiplayer modes for online play, with seven different maps and 15 weapons to choose from. The multiplayer modes include standard death match and team-based modes, which supports up to 12 players online for each match.
Graphics are amazing for the Wii console. They are of such a high standard of which normally seen on other consoles with effects such as vertex and pixel shaders." These effects include bump-mapping, reflection and refraction, light and shadow maps and projections, spectacular and Fresnel effects, missive and iridescent materials, advanced alpha blends, gloss and detail mapping, motion blur, interactive water with complex surface effects, and animated textures, among other things. In my opinion the graphics in this game blow away anything seen seen in Metriod Prime - Corruption, Medal of Honor 2 and Call of Duty - World at War.
The audio is a powerful blend of cinematic music and realistic sound effects and included voice acting from some Hollywood actors such as Kevin Sorbo from hit TV show Hercules and Xena.
I thinks this game is simply awesome and suits both the hardcore and casual gamer alike which also show of the Wii to its full capability!
The Conduit takes players into a dark story in Washington D.C. after a vicious alien invasion has rocked the country. An organisation called the Trust has sent in Secret Service agent, Mr. Ford, to go up against the insect-like alien race known as "The Drudge." Armed with an array of futuristic weaponry and an intelligence-gathering device simply called the "All-Seeing Eye," players follow an intricate maze filled with conspiracy, shady government activity and terrifying aliens.