The Conduit is a game on the Wii that can instantly be described as one of the few games that is genuinely targeted towards the hardcore gamer. Developer High Voltage Software looked to create an extremely immersive first-person shooter (FPS) on the Wii, with unparalleled graphics on the system, but how does the final product compare to their initial goals?
The Wii has seen quite a few FPS titles, but even though the controls may seem suited to that style of game, few developers have been able to really capture the essense of what makes an FPS truly immersive. The Conduit arrives with the hopes of changing the negative stigma that's attached to the genre on the Wii and it starts off with Michael Ford, a Secret Service Agent, knee deep in a government conspiracy.
After performing well in some government tasks, Mr. Ford is sent in to apprehend a terrorist by the name of Prometheus. He has apparently stolen a piece of prototype equipment from an organisation known as The Trust and they want it back. However, things aren't as simple as they first appear and an alien race called the Drudge soon becomes involved. There are some nice plot twists throughout the story, but the vast majority of them are quite predictable. A lot of the story just feels forced though, as so many events happen in such a short space of playing time, it just feels unnecessarily convoluted.
The artifact that Mr. Ford acquires during the opening stages of the game is called the All Seeing Eye (ASE), and this serves as the device that makes The Conduit unique. It effectively acts as a scanning beam, and it can be used to detect hidden switches, hack computers, disarm mines and find hidden messages. It does add an extra level of depth, but it isn't groundbreaking.
In terms of gameplay, it actually performs admirably. The aiming is extremely precise and it's definitely gratifying to headshot multiple enemies in succession. Movement is controlled primarily through the Nunchuk, with the Wii Remote used to turn the camera. There is also a slight lock-on system which can be accessed via the Z Button, but it still requires the player to refine the aiming.
The controls aren't infalable though, and problems arise with the controls for melee attacks and grenade throwing. To throw a grenade, it requires movement of the Nunchuk in a throwing motion. However, the grenade is thrown where the crosshair is pointing, and it can be quite annoying to keep the Wii Remote pointing at the precise position, while trying to make a throwing motion with the other arm. The same also applies for melee attacks, as sometimes a grenade is thrown by accident.
The pacing is pretty good and there aren't many quiet sections. The only downside is that the environments start to get quite repetitive. It's not uncommon to enter a new area and get a feeling of deja vu. The enemy AI is also rather suspect at times as they can't do simple things such as opening doors. They also manage to get stuck against objects, which makes for easy kills. Although slightly unrelated, some of the voice scripting is also rather comical. At one point, the enemies seal a room and exclaim "Don't let him escape". Then, a few minutes later, they open the doors and shout, with some ignorance "He's in here, let's get him!".
Graphically, the game is actually quite good. The weapons look good, there are some nice effects and the enemies are varied. The only downside is that the environments look rather underwhelming. The music featured in the game is very atmospheric and has a dynamic nature. It reacts to the present situation, and really helps to heighten senses.
One of the game's biggest problems is its length. It's exceedingly short, and gamers with any skill should be able to complete it in under 5 hours. This is a huge disappointment, but there are some goodies lying around that make it worth replaying. As well as collecting Trust Disks, players can attempt to find hidden messages with the ASE. There are also achievements, but they aren't very inventive and they should be fairly easy to acquire in a play-through or two.
Update: Aside from the main game, The Conduit also features an extensive Multiplayer Mode. There are three basic modes on offer: Free For All, Team Reaper and Team Objective. Each of the modes has lots of different types, but the majority focus around the ASE, which essentially makes for lots of "Capture The Flag" variants. Like the Story Mode, the maps often feel quite similar and there isn't much variety in terms of graphics. They are also completely symmetrical and while it seems a bit lazy, it does mean that it's a lot easier to become familiar with the levels. The combat is much the same as the single player, however, since the combat is no longer against AI it's much more fast paced and the variety of weapons really helps to keep things interesting.
All in all the game is pretty decent. The experience is fun throughout and it wouldn't be difficult to go back and play through it again. However, its biggest drawback is the length. There just shouldn't be any excuse for a game of this nature to be so short, because not only does it leave the player wanting more, it makes the extensive story seem like it's been crammed into a tiny package.
Had the campaign been longer, the story could have been fleshed out a bit better and it's difficult to see players seeing this as a bad thing. It's just a shame, as the weapons are fun, and the ASE adds an interesting new focus. Perhaps these are things they can improve if they get to make a sequel.