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The Conduit - Wii Review

Game Info: The Conduit
Wii | SEGA | 1  Player / 12 Players Online | Nintendo Wi-fi Connection Online play | Out Now | PEGI: 16+ / ESRB: T
Controller compatibility: Wii remote and Nunchuk
Review by Murat

The Conduit excited many fans of the first-person shooter genre on the Wii ever since the first announcement over a year ago. With outstanding graphics and super-intelligent AI even in early production, the game managed to attract a fan base pretty quickly. However, despite the popularity and much of its hype, will The Conduit live up to the developers long term goals and fulfil the players desire? 

The premise has players taking control of Agent Michael Ford, a secret service agent who is famously known for saving the President. He is recruited by John Adams, the head of the shadow secret service known as “The Trust”, to learn who is behind the most recent attacks on Washington D.C with viral and destructive assaults. Players will uncover many hidden conspiracies as the game unfolds through Agent Fords’ journey. As well as facing alien species known as The Drudge, players will also face off against rogue agents, puppet military forces and various Drudge species. This is a typical story you've heard many times in different first-person shooters and movies so the story is nothing special. The story was extremely frustrating from the start since I didn’t know why I was killing these aliens or why the military guys were shooting at me. It wasn’t until the end that I understood what the whole experience meant and that could annoy a large deal of players. 

First and foremost, The Conduit is honestly remarkable feature-wise. The amount of customizable options and adjustable configuration throughout the game left me absolutely speechless and is the games sturdy point. You can pretty much tweak anything to your liking. Turning speed, running speed, death zone, melee, grenade throwing, HUD placement and heaps more. High Voltage Software has certainly been working hard to ensure anyone can just pick up and play the game with custom or personal controls from other Wii first-person shooters. I adjusted my controls to fit the Red Steel control scheme and it worked perfectly. Even the motion movements of the nunchuk and Wii Remote can be adjusted which was fantastic. Generally in most Wii first-person shooters, throwing a grenade or performing melee attacks on enemies is never always accurate or is sometimes overcomplicated. The Conduit seems to iron out those problems by aiming towards the area you want to throw the grenade as you tilt the nunchuk forward. Or, tilt the Wii Remote forward to perform a melee attack. The camera does move slightly, but regaining your aim is never a problem. Everything works and many will be pleased it does. 

Graphically, I was really hoping The Conduit could present something above most of the great games on the Wii. Sadly, this isn’t the strongest point and is mostly influenced by the artistic style in which the game has taken. Most of the levels suffer from uninspired and bland map designs which make the levels feel really boring and box-like. Most of the environments consist of light or dark grey colours like many other first-person shooters on any platform. This has eventually affected the overall quality. Almost all the maps are reoccurring in each mission and it becomes a bit of a headache having to go in circles all the time. However, one of the more appealing aspects of the visuals is the water reflections which shouldn’t be overlooked. The unique engine created by the developers allowed them to create a dynamic water effect which I thought was really exceptional in many ways. Lighting effects weren’t that great since it was mainly focused on the players weapons which I never saw a huge deal in. The lighting effect on enemies weren’t all that amazing either. The environments have also suffered from these bland overlooks. 

    During my play time, I didn't come across a single destructible environment apart from an exploding barrel in the airport and a few more barrels in one or two levels afterwards. This was extremely disappointing since destructible environments are really important for these types of genres. These may be minor issues for some, however, this is an aspect I consider to be important in any hardcore first-person shooter. These could’ve been improved if the developers practised with some real life resources, giving them an idea at least. I also experienced some problems with the frame-rate during the single player campaign which picked up a few times when the screen became heavily crowded with enemies and everything turned choppy for a few seconds. Again, this doesn’t happen too often but only a few times throughout the entire game and is tolerable. 

    You’d think the “All Seeing Eye” device would be cool to use in a game like this, but to be honest, it’s really aggravating at some points. Personally, I believe the main focus of the ASE is to push players into doing some backtracking. With this in mind, the replay value would extend as players search for hidden discs and messages. The ASE is a primary device as you need it to find hidden drudge locks, hack into computers, encrypt messages, explode ghost mines and several others. Ghost mines are the most infuriating as you’ll have to fight off against spawning enemies and take out a countless number of mines that are invisible and cannot be destroyed with weapons. The only side step from these annoying parts is the ASE mini-game which involves matching up symbols on the wall, eventually unlocking a hidden room. This room has a hidden checkpoint, weapons, ammunition and most likely a secret prototype weapon. The Conduit is also a side step from most tradition first-person shooters as it’s hugely dependant on the ASE device. As well as testing the casual audience and introducing them to the genre, these backtracking objectives will also give hardcore gamers a push to the edge which is a nice balance. 

The Conduit also has a nice variety of weapons players can pick up and add to their arsenal. You can only hold two weapons and five grenades in the single and multiplayer which isn’t that bad. Weapons can be classed into three categories; the conventional human weapons, advanced and highly unique trust weapons and the drudge weapons. Amongst these are light, heavy, charged, long ranged, near, close combat and explosive weapons which can all be used in the online multiplayer if selected by random. There’s even some good variety when it comes to grenades. The humans have exploding grenades, the trust has flash bangs, and the drudge has radioactive grenades. They all serve a different purpose which broadens the weapon variety and it’s great to see a mixed bag of weapons to use. There’s even ammunition replenish docks scattered throughout the single player and multiplayer modes which becomes handy every now and again. 

    The game features a fairly satisfying soundtrack with a few great songs. The only disappointment here is that the soundtrack is near impossible to hear in certain levels unless you turn up your TV to a point where the stereo is bursting with fuzzy noises in the background. Voice acting was absolutely terrific and very well put together in between each mission and some in-game. However, I would’ve really preferred it if the voices were used during actual cutscenes rather than radio transmissions which seemed kind of pointless and a waste of talent. May be actual cutscenes could’ve reinforced the story a lot better aside from a few cheesy lines with a moving head. 

One of the biggest and most appealing aspects of this game which most fans of the genre are eager to try out is the online multiplayer. The online multiplayer supports up to 12 players with Wii Speak compatible. The friend list can hold up to 32 friends although it states 64 in the manual. I haven’t filled up all the empty slots so I wouldn’t bet on the 64 just as yet. Since I don’t have Wii Speak, I did have several matches where other players were using the accessory. I heard tons of echoes in the background which wasn’t great and I’m certain the other players heard the same. With headphones plugged into the TV I’ll bet the echoes would come to a halt, allowing for a smoother online voice chat with friends. Multiplayer maps are great and are more hectic compared to the single player designs. There’s a lot more action and excitement that surrounds the game as players hunt one another in several of the game modes available such as Bounty Hunter, ASE Football, Last Man Standing and many more including Team Reaper and Team Objective. Alongside the great seven maps and thirteen game modes, players can also customize their online character skin by changing the outfit colours and selecting one of four available skins including one agent skin which requires a password in order to be unlocked. 

As if it wasn't enough that High Voltage managed to incorporate a robust online multiplayer with slick features, they also added 25 ranks into the game. Each match gets you closer to the next rank and all the details can be viewed offline in the extra’s option including your accuracy, number of kills, deaths, play time and many more. Having the most or some kills will gain you points. Winning the match completely alone or with a team will gain you bonus points as an extra reward. Private matches can also be hosted but points won’t count towards your overall achievement which is understandable considering some people would kill one another over and over again. 

    Alongside the fantastic online experience, I’m sad to say that players will experience some form of lag or spawning problems at one point during their online play and I will guarantee this for certain. I had matches were some players were continuously vanishing and reappearing including those on my friend list. At first, I thought they were using cheats but found out they were playing a fair match. I also had problems with the spawning time and spawning spots. Just as the countdown reaches 3, it would speed up and restart from 20 which was annoying as my team was being slaughtered while I watched for a few minutes. When I did spawn, I ended up staring at a wall with my weapon waving in the air. It was extremely frustrating and I couldn’t do anything until the match ended which resulted in my team losing miserably. Luckily, the game doesn’t deduct any points if your team loses or if you haven’t gathered enough kills. 

    Lastly, I’d like to touch on the heart of any first-person shooter, artificial intelligence also known as AI. High Voltage Software really overrating the quality of their AI stating that they’d have “human like tactical movements” which sounded fantastic and too good to be true. Sadly, the end result wasn’t as appealing or fascinating as it sounded during countless number of interviews. Most of the AI would go berserk and start a marathon run to towards you while others will duck, only to find their arms or legs are sticking out for me to zap. Some do get smart at times, but that’s 1 out of 7 enemies which isn’t that great. However, changing the difficult settings would devote some more accuracy to the enemy, but it’s nothing too extreme or different to the previous setting which was still a disappointment. 

Overall, The Conduit has some fantastic ideas which didn’t quite benefit the game in the end. The cutting edge technology may exist, but The Conduit doesn’t show most of these innovations apart from the highly unique controller configuration. Most aspects of the game are a mess, especially the single player and story. Nonetheless, The Conduits’ success lies within the online experience which has been a major achievement in my opinion despite the few disappointing flaws I’ve listed. I started off as a rookie online player but soon got used to all the maps, weapons, modes and tactics which is fantastic and has its rewards. Having Wii Speak also has its privileges for players to play more tactically. The Conduit is a hard game to review for various reasons but this is the brink of all future games in the same genre and I’m really excited to see what High Voltage Software has in store for future first-person shooter titles.

23/30 - Very Good
Gameplay 8/10  - Brilliant control mechanics with rewarding online modes. Single player is dreadful. 
Presentation 7/10 - Graphics are great. Character developments and cutscenes are awful but voice acting is ace.
Enjoyment 4/5 - The single player may be a sleeping pill for some; online will keep you hooked for a very long time
Extra Content 4/5 - With a variety of achievements and online ranks to unlock, replay value could extend greatly if players pursue these tokens.