When the average gamer thinks of the Nintendo Wii, all they see is a little kid’s gaming console, filled with shovelware like Carnival Games and Petz. The Wii has been given a reputation as an inferior gaming console, and one with nothing to offer a more matured crowd, and in this case, they couldn’t be more wrong. The Conduit is here to introduce some fast, fun, frenzied gameplay and prove that the Wii has what it takes to make it as a real hardcore gaming platform.
Let’s begin with the story. Albeit a simple one, The Conduit’s story is a fine yarn which has been spun by some obviously clever and experienced writers. It’s not so much the depth or complexity of the plot which makes The Conduit’s story enjoyable, but just the overall presentation. You begin the game as Agent Michael Ford, who has been contacted by a secret government organization known as “The Trust” to investigate certain extra-terrestrial happenings. While I don’t want to spoil the plot, I will tell you that you’ll be travelling through a ton of places, like dark, dank sewers, gigantic capitol buildings, and even subways.
As you progress through your mission to an ever approaching goal you will be blasting your way through rebel government Agents, evil aliens known as “the Drudge”. You’re doing this while uncovering a conspiracy and saving the world from definite destruction. It may not sound like the most original plot, but it is a very fun and exciting which allows for ease of understanding and an enjoyable gameplay experience. The story is fine and good, but the gameplay is the absolute best part of the title. As mentioned before, you will be exploring many locales while fighting many types of aliens, all from a first person perspective. But what are you killing all these evil-doers with. Why, with 20 different weapons of course.
The guns in The Conduit range from bare-basic to just plain creepy, but at the same time, cool. You have three weapon types; Human Weapons, which are things like the Handgun, Machine Gun, etc. Drudge Weapons like the Hive Blaster and Warp Pistol. And finally, the Trust Weapons, like the Deatomizer and Carbonizer. In addition to the 20 some weapons available, there are also 3 types of grenades, namely Fragmentation, Flash, and Radiation, as well as mêlée attacks and secondary fire, so you’ll always have some way of shredding somebody to bits.
Besides the most basic aspect of any FPS, the guns, The Conduit has some other interesting gameplay mechanics. The most important and noticeable of those mechanics is the ASE, or “All Seeing Eye”. The ASE is a nifty device which allows you to hack computers, decode messages, solve puzzles, and do much, much more. Speaking of puzzles the puzzles in the game are usually pretty good, not too taxing but not too easy either.
If you want harder gameplay, you need to head on over to the defining mode of the whole game: online multiplayer. While a handful of games suffer from either a bad single player or bad multiplayer, in The Conduit’s case, it has a great single player and an even greater multiplayer.
What’s so great about the multiplayer, you ask. It just works. There’s nothing new. You have guns, you shoot people, you die, and you respawn. But that is what makes this game absolutely incredible; its not innovation, it’s taking the elements which have been present in past generations of FPS games and refining them to a point of excellence, and that is exactly what they are, excellent. To get online to begin with, you simply click the “multiplayer” tab on the game’s main menu. You will then connect to Nintendo WFC, and pick a game mode; Death Match, Team Reaper, or Team Objective. Once you pick one of these modes, you will be paired with up to 11 other players within about 30 seconds.
Once your opponents are chosen, you will then all vote on not just a map, but a sub-gameplay type (Football, Bounty Hunter, Last Man Standing, etc), and a weapon set. Once everyone has casted their vote, the votes will be tallied up, and the winning settings shall be used. This is where the fun begins. Once you’re transported inside the game, the first thing you’re going to notice about The Conduit is how much of a striking resemblance it shares with older games like Perfect Dark and Goldeneye 007, and this is a really, really good thing.
All of the gunplay is very fast, you can be spamming the trigger and your handgun will go blistering off at some unsuspecting enemy. You will only be able to hold two guns, but really it’s quite enough because of how much fun you’ll be having with the ones you have access to. All of the weapons are deadly in the right hands, so worrying about “underpowered pistol syndrome” is not going to fly here. Speaking of deadly, each time that you get a kill, 1 point will be added to your score, and each time you die, 1 point will be removed from your score. It’s good to see a simple but effective scoring system used; unlike with games like Gears of War where you can never figure out how much you’re getting per kill.
Once the game ends, your score is added up and will flow into your ranking. Yes, finally, a Wii game with real ranks, and cool ones at that. Each rank has its own little symbol which will look better with each rank that you meet. The best thing about the online multiplayer is that it’s easy enough so that new players can get a few kills and have fun, but not so overwhelmingly easy that an experienced player won’t have a serious advantage.
Lastly, we come to one of the deciding factors in an online FPS’s success, the maps. The maps are really good, I must admit. You have outside arenas like the Streets and inside maps like the Infirmary and Complex. It’s really cool. The maps are all fairly large, not too big so that you’ll have a hard time finding other players, but not claustrophobic either, it’s a perfect balance. Guns are laid around randomly, and your best bet in finding the one you want is to kill someone who has it. This particular area did bother me a little, because I would have liked to see, such as, some glowing rings or indicators around gun spawns that made them easier to see, but it’s nothing major. Overall, the gameplay in The Conduit is just superb. It’s fast, it’s varied, and it’s fun. You have a great single player campaign, and an even better multiplayer mode.
If a sound track is underwhelming, all the epicness of the gameplay is lost. Thankfully, The Conduit’s score is anything but underwhelming. The music in the game, whether it’s on the title screen or in the gameplay, is really cool. It has a sci-fi, halo, epic feeling to it, and the tunes are really memorable. The sound effects are just as good, if not better. The guns all have unique sound effects, when heads pop they’ll give a little juicy burst, when bullets pierce they’ll make nice fleshy splits, and even when you’re running, jumping, and hacking, everything sounds realistic, it’s just plain great.
Unfortunately, although The Conduit has a lot going for it when it comes to gameplay and such, I do have beef with the graphics. As many know, High Voltage software hyped the capabilities of their Quantum 3 engine on the Wii, and in all fairness they have done a good job. The problem with the game is not so much the detailing, the models, or effects, but just the environments themselves; they’re bland, and somewhat generic. If you walk up and look at textures up close, they are absolutely incredible, better than most of what other next-gen consoles have to offer. It’s simply the lack of stylization and complex shading that keep the graphics from looking really good. They are not terrible, however, and are a good first effort.
Another great feature that High Voltage squeezed into the game is the customizable HUD. The player can align everything however they like or just go crazy and randomly scatter all the elements across the entire screen, and if you get tired of looking at the HUD you can change the opaqueness to whatever you wish. The HUD is not the only thing you can customize though. The controls can literally be mapped to anything. If you want the shoot mechanic to be mapped to “Fling Nunchuk” then hey, you can make it happen. There is no way to say “I have a problem with the controls” because you make the controls up yourself, you can change each and every little facet of your control scheme and nothing is unchangeable.
The best part of customizing your controls is that you can also change your perspective and views. You can customize running speed, turning speed, sensitivity, camera type, anything. You may not be happy with the default settings that the developers have created, but that’s no problem because you simply tweak it how you like until it’s perfect for you. I think that’s the sentiment of The Conduit though, that it’s perfect for you. It may not redefine any genres, introduce any major innovations, or cause any riots in the street because it sold out in the entire country, but what it does is introduce a type of incredibly fast-paced and fun gameplay, and refines it to near perfection.
Long story short, The Conduit is an amazing game well worth the $49.99, and if you did not pick this game up on launch day you need to slap yourself, get in your car, and go pick up a copy now, because it is one of the most enjoyable FPS experiences on the market.
+ Enjoyable storyline.
+ Incredible gameplay.
+ Great presentation.
+ Fun online components.
+ Fully customizable controls.
– Lacking style.
– Campaign is a little short.
Rating: 4/5 Outstanding!