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Game Over Online ~ The Conduit

GameOver Game Reviews - The Conduit (c) Sega, Reviewed by - Thomas Wilde

Game & Publisher The Conduit (c) Sega
System Requirements Wii
Overall Rating 72%
Date Published Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 at 08:41 PM

Divider Left By: Thomas Wilde Divider Right

I have a lot of respect for High Voltage, mostly because I enjoyed the Hunter: The Reckoning games from a few years ago. I was looking forward to The Conduit, because I knew they were putting a lot of effort into it, and I spoke to them briefly at E3 on the subject.

That's why it pains me to say that The Conduit is a distinctly mixed bag. It's a technical triumph, but it's not much of a game. It's serviceable; it's competent. It cannot be realistically said to be good.

You play the single-player campaign as a government agent named Michael Ford. You're thrown into a series of doublecrosses and conspiracies, putting you and a "terrorist" named Prometheus up against the Trust, an organization of humans clearing the way for an alien invasion. They're largely successful; the first level of The Conduit is set in the wreckage of post-invasion Washington D.C.

The singleplayer campaign is, to put it kindly, somewhat incoherent. You move from gunfight location to gunfight location with only the faintest amount of justification for the change in scenery, and the opposition ranges from generic government agents to xenobiological insects out of Starship Troopers. The Conduit is really the Platonic ideal of the mid-2005 Xbox FPS; it's serviceable but oddly generic, with a couple of annoying flaws (human weapons would do more damage if I threw the bullets at somebody, and alien generators play a big role in the level design), and features exactly one innovation that's meant to set it apart from the pack.

That innovation is the Wii control scheme, which take a great deal of getting used to. You move with the thumbstick on the nunchuck and point with the Wiimote to direct the onscreen crosshair. Tossing grenades is done with a gentle lob of the nunchuck.

There's a lot to recommend The Conduit's approach. Many third-party games on the Wii don't really use the system's unique controls to best advantage; some have a motion-control gimmick, like the quick-time events in MadWorld, while others like Rune Factory Frontier make the motion sensitivity completely optional. Hell, Little King Story doesn't have Wii functionality at all beyond vibration.

The Conduit is built from the ground up to work with the Wii, and because of that, there are several advantages. The frame rate is constantly rock solid, the controls can be customized to a frankly insane extent, and if you can get to a point where you don't have to think about the controls in order to play the game, it's extremely fluid and intuitive.

I'd be stupid not to mention that the multiplayer, while glitchy and occasionally plagued by server-side connection problems, is easily the best on the Wii to date. You may have a problem finding a game at peak hours - apparently server load is leading to an occasional error where the Wii crashes upon loading the map - but once you do, it's fast, virtually lag-free, and fun in that traditional deathmatch sort of way. The weapons are varied enough to keep things interesting, and there are a variety of game types crammed into the three available modes. The net code on The Conduit is simply amazing.

The problem I keep running into, admittedly, is that I can't seem to master the controls. A lot of features are crammed onto the Wiimote where they're not easy to comfortably reach, like reloading or switching weapons. If you have the Wiimote's motion sensitivity turned up, then your character spins and jerks around every time you move; if it's turned down, then you can't turn around in time to deal with the annoying constantly-respawning aliens that are crawling up your ass at virtually all times.

The Conduit is a noble experiment. It's a great engine, and I look forward to future games that use it. The multiplayer, glitchy though it may be, is the real reason to pick it up, and it's fun enough to justify the purchase.

The game itself is kind of tacked onto the engine as an afterthought, though. The word I keep coming back to is "generic," and that's just never a good thing to say about much of anything.


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