The Conduit Review

The Conduit wii box art

Fun and action packed first person shooter set in a world of alien conspiracy theories.

Story

Washington D.C. is shaken by consecutive strange events resulting in heightened local and national tensions. The former Secret Service agent Michael Ford is recruited by the American government’s shadow organization known as the Trust to investigate the occurring anomalies. It turns out that the conspiracy theories concerning alien technology and secret research were more substantial than Michael had ever dared to imagine. He quickly finds himself in a deadly conflict of deceit, government secrets and disinformation.

The Game

The Conduit is an action packed sci fi first-person shooter that utilizes the Wii’s motion controls in a functional and rational way. You play as Michael Ford as he fights his way through soldiers turned to mindless puppets and the hostile alien life form known as the Drudge. The game is filled with firefights as you’ll encounter enemies in many shapes and forms almost everywhere you go, and there are quite a few weapons that you can use to defend yourself.conduit_33
The Conduit takes place mostly in and around the White House and the Pentagon, so the environments you’ll get to explore include office locales, conference rooms and also city streets, sewers and underground facilities, which all are more or less ruined by the Drudge attack. The basic gameplay is all about shooting baddies (while ducking behind cover), but exploration is also a central aspect of the experience.

Controls

From the options menu you can adjust and customize controls and adjust sensitivity settings, but the game does require you to use a Nunchuk together with the Wii-Mote. There are no other control options supported. As such, the controls work really well for this game. The immediate limitation that you’ll find though, is that you can’t look directly upwards and downwards, and turning around can be sluggish if you want to make a quick, and precise turn. With that said, the controls aren’t comparable with a mouse and keyboard setup, but aiming, ducking, jumping, using scopes, switching weapons, throwing grenades and using melee attacks work very well. There’s also a lock-on feature that you can use to lock your sights on one particular enemy. It’s useful, and also shows the current health of the target, but in the heat of the action it’s easy to forget about using it. Also, if it doesn’t lock-on to the intended target, it quickly becomes a source of frustration.
Hit detection is a minor but reoccurring problem in the game. You’ll often find your projectiles being blocked by objects that shouldn’t be able to block them such as handrails and other props.

Content

The Conduit has both a story driven single-player campaign and various multiplayer game modes to play over the Nintendo Wi-Fi network.
The campaign consists of nine chapters, and takes about six hours to play through. In the first few chapters of the campaign you’ll rely on finding health restoring power-ups, but later in the game you’ll be equipped with a body suit that can slowly regenerate lost health. This vastly changes the flow of the game and adds contrast to the experience.
Your progress through each chapter is automatically saved when you reach certain checkpoints acting as restoration points when you die. You’ll never quite know when the next checkpoint will be, but they are evenly spaced for the most part. Checkpoints effectively divide each chapter into a sequence of areas, because you can’t backtrack from one checkpoint location to another.
The level design is good as it lets you explore many interesting locations, and there are plenty of optional rooms which often contain extra items such as ammunition, collectible Data Disks, hidden messages or secret weapons. Also, you will be using the ASE (All Seeing Eye), which is a powerful artifact that can reveal things that can’t be seen with the human eye. It’s very handy for finding hidden seals that lock doors but also for hacking computers and disrupting the Drudge’s weaponry.

The difficulty level in the game is fairly low on its standard setting, but it’s worth noting that there are certain enemy encounters in the campaign that are really difficult, especially in the first few tries. This is so, because the game often keeps spawning enemies with no end until you destroy the portal (or conduit, rather) from which they emerge. This often means that you can’t just wait them out and employ defensive tactics. Instead you must press on against an oncoming hoard of monsters, and their weapons can be extremely deadly as they use both grenades, laser beams and other deadly rays. Michael can take quite a few hits before going down, but when you’re facing four or more enemies at the same time, they can wear your health bar down in just a few seconds. It’s worth noting though, that difficulty level can be changed on the fly during play, so if you find yourself in a pinch, you can lower the difficulty level and go from there. This also works the other way, if you find that the game isn’t challenging enough.
For the most part, you’ll find ammunition in ample amounts, so you don’t have to worry about running out of bullets too much. Defeated enemies drop weapons and bullets too.

There are 15 weapons in the game, and they are divided into three categories; Human, Trust and Drudge. There’s one weapon for any imaginable combat encounter. The standard weapons include rocket launchers, handguns, assault rifles and shotguns, and the more exotic ones really makes for nice variation. There’s high-tech plasma guns straight from the government’s secret research lab and bio-mass weapons of various types. Perhaps the most memorable weapons are the Carbonizer Mk16, which is really powerful and has a rapid fire rate, and the Shrieker, which is a Drudge homing missile type weapon.
You can only carry two weapons at a time, so you will need to pick one over the other many times over the course of a chapter. Collected weapons are not carried over from one chapter to another, and this makes preserving bullets for your favorite weapons more or less meaningless.

The CPU controlled opponents are intelligent enough to seek cover and deploy basic strategies such as flanking you and positioning themselves depending on what’s happening. There are occasions when you can catch them just standing around and not reacting while being shot at. On the whole though, it’s fun to fight them – they can and will surprise you quite a few times.conduit_1

From the main menu you can access an Extras screen. From here you’ll see your game statistics such as played time, number of kills, number of deaths and so on. Here you can also overview your unlockable items; there are around 40 achievements, some cheats that you can use in the single player campaign and a bunch of artwork galleries. The achievements say how they’re unlocked, but the others are more secretive – you have to figure them out yourself.

A game with a dark story about conspiracy theories should be extremely interesting. Sure, the premise in The Conduit has enormous potential, but it turns out that the story isn’t nearly as intriguing as it seems from the introduction video. As such, it could be said that the story is a little disappointing – at least if you’re expecting something out of the ordinary. It does have some unexpected plot twists though, so at least it delivers on that note.
Another problem that this game has regarding storytelling is that it has lots of its dialogue occurring at the same time as the firefights. Good luck with concentrating on both. You might as well ignore that people are talking in the background and just focus on killing the enemies.

Multiplayer

The multiplayer portion of the game offers three different game modes; Free For All, Team Reaper and Team Objective. These can be played on eight different multiplayer specific levels and with up to twelve players. Free For All is a basic death match mode, Team Reaper is a team death match mode and Team Objective is a capture the flag type mode. These game modes can be played with various rules variations such as game length and what type of weapons are allowed.
Multiplayer games can be played either with only registered friends, or with players from regional or global origin. Killing other players and winning matches online will earn you special experience points that count towards your multiplayer rank. Also, if you have the Wii Speak peripheral it can optionally be used to communicate with other players.
The multiplayer suffers quite a bit from bunny hopping, which means that jumping around constantly is the norm of playing as it gives you many advantages – it may be your best shot at avoiding incoming fire, because simply walking isn’t fast enough… and no, you can’t run in this game.

Graphics

Visually The Conduit looks very good for a Wii game. It has many interesting locales and it is all portrayed accurately with a nice level of detail. All textures look just about right, and there are some neat lighting effects in place too. The graphics are very colorful too, much thanks to the outlandish monsters and weapons, and generally it is a joy to watch.
The enemy animation is also well done, but occasionally there are some minor glitches in how one animation flows into another.
The game runs great but there are notable frame rate drops during intense battles. This isn’t bad enough to ever get in your way though, which is quite a feat on the behalf of the developers.
As most other games, there are graphical glitches occurring now and then, but again, this isn’t anything that will break your game. For example, we’ve seen enemies get stuck in floors and enemies spawn out of thin air.

Sound

The soundtrack is cinematic; tense and hectic just like a Hollywood action movie. With that said, the music is very much generic, but it does get the job done.
The voice acting is good, and the sound effects as such are believable and appropriate. There are moments when the sound effects aren’t synchronized with what’s happening, which can be a little confusing. But despite some disjointed sounds with erratic volume levels, the game sounds pretty good. There are some Drudge aliens that have incredibly annoying and silly voices – it’s like they’re directly taken from a Walt Disney cartoon. Needless to say, it is devastating to the overall atmosphere.

Summary

The Conduit is a good choice for anyone looking for a first person shooter on the Wii. The controls are surprisingly refreshing, the campaign is mostly fun to play and has lots of intense firefights and the multiplayer aspect can be lots of fun. Sure, there are issues here and there, but none of it should scare you away from at least trying the game.

Developed By: High Voltage Software
Published By: Sega
Version Reviewed:
Wii
Genre:
First-Person Shooter
Players: 1-
12
Released: 2009-07-10

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