In a way, it is of little consequence whether The Conduit is a good game, a great game, or something in between. Before it even released it helped to wake up many other third-party developers to the capabilities of the Wii, both on a graphical level and in regards to gameplay. That push forward of other developers and publishers is the game’s legacy of sorts, as, in between the time it took for The Conduit to be announced and the game to be released, Wii saw next-gen efforts like Call of Duty: World at War given a legitimate shot at succeeding on the system, rather than less successful and less refined ports like its predecessor and launch title, Call of Duty 3.
Developer: High Voltage Software
June 23, 2009
We have seen the tech demos, the gameplay videos, the sharp looking screens with graphical effects rarely seen on the Wii “" it’s clear that High Voltage Software knows how to develop for the little white console and squeeze some power out of it. Did they do enough with the gameplay to warrant a purchase of their first retail Wii title though? The answer will take some time, but that’s why we review these things.
In The Conduit, you play as Michael Ford, an agent that has been betrayed by the organization that hired him. Your goal is to get to the bottom of the conspiracy that surrounds you and the city of Washington D.C., and exact revenge on the man that put you in this tough spot before his army of drones and alien Drudge soldiers can take you out. It’s pretty standard conspiracy fare with a few twists and turns, but it’s not a bad story, and the voice acting of Kevin Sorbo and Mark Sheppard helps to move it along, even if occasionally it sounds a little over the top and campy. The story doesn’t overstay its welcome, but you could also say that it leaves abruptly, setting the game up for an obvious sequel, a la Gears of War 2.
The Conduit looks great on Wii, most of the time. It’s a little inconsistent graphically, which is a disappointment given how good it looks sometimes. As you can see in the screens, the insides of buildings, guns, aliens, and the lighting effects all look well detailed and smooth. Objects and places off in the distance do not look anywhere near as good though “" they don’t look blurry or representative of something off in the distance, they just look a little muddy. Some of the backgrounds ruin a lot of what’s going on in the foreground too. If you’re running through a corridor, do yourself a favor and don’t look out the windows, as everything looks choppy and box-like in that strange, outdoor world. Occasionally the sky also looks terrible, particularly when the clouds have an orange hue to them. Hopefully these details are polished in the sequel “" a background that stretches all around you is not exactly a minor detail “" as they take away from a lot of what was accomplished graphically in The Conduit.
Another problem for The Conduit is that the technical achievements outshine the art. Sure, the inside of the Pentagon and White House look good, but the design is somewhat boring. For the most part you’re just running through hallways and offices that could be from any building; I would have liked to see a bit more detail here, in regards to the invasion at hand, just to keep things looking interesting. There’s only one real “wow” moment in the game in regards to level design, when you first realize you have been tricked and that alien forces are invading Washington D.C. Enemies are designed well, but there are not enough different types, and you start to wish there were different challenges as you play for six to nine hours through single player.
All in all, the campaign is very standard run-and-gun, and doesn’t do anything innovative. It’s not bad, but it is bland, despite solid presentation and the graphics. There are two things that stand out from single-player that bear mentioning though, and that’s the All Seeing Eye (ASE) and the alien guns.The ASE lets you see hidden messages, unlock underground rooms with advanced weaponry in them, collect the Trust’s secret data discs, disable mines, hack into computers, and lower the shields on a specific, invisible member of the Drudge’s alien forces. It’s a shame it wasn’t used more often, but as a start of something and as an innovation, it’s welcome. High Voltage Software obviously had fun making the guns, and you will have fun using them. There are plenty of different enemy weapons, from alien assault rifles with charged beam shots, pistols with charged explosive rounds, a heat-seeking grenade launcher of sorts, de-atomizing weapons that, when charged, do exactly what their name implies to the enemies they strike, and even grenades that use radiation to take out opponents. They look good, they play well, and Ford reloading them with balls of bio mass is something you need to see in action.