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The Conduit

Score: 79%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sega
Developer: High Voltage Software
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 12
Genre: Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

The limitations of the Wii make themselves known here as always. The color palette and textures in the game are extremely limited. Against some of the dark backgrounds in the game, enemies can be very difficult to distinguish. There's little in the environment that is destructible and bullet holes only linger for a few seconds on the walls. And besides that, the enemies become repetitious very fast. You've got your guys in suits, sometimes your guys in military gear, and your alien bug creatures great and small.

They don't sound much better either. Most of the aliens sound like little gremlins (which takes away from any fear factor the game would have had), but at least the between-level sequences do have good voice acting. You can tell the actors did their best with the sometimes silly script. The theme music is fitting for a conspiracy-packed game as much as it is for a movie of the same type, and even if it doesn't do a stellar job, it does do the job.


Gameplay:

The story is pretty mediocre, but I suppose you could label it as classic at this point in time as well. In the opening scene, a montage of conspiracy-laden images is flashed across the screen: aliens in newspaper clippings, a Masonic square, the compass symbol, and articles about things in the water. Ford, the main character, tells us that he knows the truth behind it all, because he was there. Unsurprisingly, you find that Ford works for a secret government agency. But wait, there's another secret agency that's trying to fight your secret agency! It doesn't feel nearly as deep or immediate as the story in the Splinter Cell games. No, this story feels like it was cobbled together from a dozen different popcorn flicks. Though the time frame is set in the present (one clue to this is the fact that the airport level has an announcement stating that liquids must be placed in a one quart bag), the story does little to engage you into feeling this could really happen.

The Conduit is your classic, solid shooter. Ford has a high-tech armored suit and futuristic weaponry. You'll pick up new weapons and upgrades along your way. There's nothing particularly new here, even if you count Ford's essential floating orb puzzle-solving device, the ASE. There are hidden quotes that can be found on the walls and hidden data disks to discover, but unless you like patting yourself on the back, there's not much motivation for one to collect these. Well, you can find at least one hidden George Bush quote, but if you want the same "chills up your spine" factor, you can simply look up one of the many sites dedicated to those quotes.

Online multiplayer is also present in addition to the Story mode. It offers another set of standard games like Capture-the-Flag and Free-For-All type games. It seemed to take a while to get a full game set up, but when the game was up and running, everything went smoothly.


Difficulty:

Several levels of difficulty are available in The Conduit. The very lowest level is your basic training wheels setting. Enemies don't aggressively pursue you, and you can take your time aiming and maneuvering. Bump it up a few levels and you'll be swarmed unless you're one with the controls.

Like many shooters, The Conduit doesn't give you enough ammo to go writing your name in every wall. Especially because of the two weapon limit, you'll have to do some weapon-swapping at some point just to survive. And until you get your high-tech suit, you'll have to be very good at killing before you're killed as your health does not regenerate. The puzzles, in contrast, are just about the least challenging area of the game. Most of what is called puzzle content in this game is simply blindly scanning the walls for hidden objects that will enable you to unlock doors. There's some shape matching content as well, but nothing you can't brute force your way through.


Game Mechanics:

The Conduit does well in this department. It takes a lot of cues from Metroid Prime: Corruption, and will probably feel familiar to veterans of that game. Perhaps I have small hands, but one thing I can never fully get used to is stretching my thumb to quickly cover all the necessary areas of the Wii-mote in its vertical position. You'll go down to the (+) button in order to pull up the ASE, but then you'll have to go all the way back up to the D-pad to change weapons. It's a small gripe, as the game doesn't really ask you to do this on the fly too often. But because quick turning is done by pressing Up on the D-pad, I found myself avoiding that move altogether. A more important element that is missing is the option to be able to run. You may feel like you're moving through molasses at some points of the game, and there's not much you can do about it.

One thing that feels very natural is using the Nunchuk to lob grenades. It feels almost like a gesture of insult towards your enemies after a while, which makes it all the more fun. Other aspects of the controls, such as turning, can take longer to get used to. But if any aspect feels like it will never work, you can adjust the sensitivity for it in an extensive Options Menu.

Though The Conduit doesn't bring much that's new to the table, it does take care of the standards of a shooter fairly well. If you're craving a decent shooter on the Wii, you might get by on this for a while. However, if multiplayer were not present, there would be little reason to play this more than once.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Microsoft Xbox 360 Sam and Max Save the World Nintendo Wii Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated