The Conduit Preview - The Next Level

Game Profile

Nintendo Wii
Release date:
June 23, 2009
High Voltage
1 - 16
First-Person Shooter

The Conduit

Jealous yet, Samus?

Preview by Valerie Hilgenfeldt (Email)
August 21st 2008

Though you won't currently find it on High Voltage's site, that company's baby is an upcoming first-person shooter called The Conduit. Everyone who anticipated a flood of first-person shooters on the Nintendo Wii needs to be excited about this one, particularly if they've come from a background in PC shooters. You won't be using WASD to control things here, but the developers are aiming to do the next best thing, and they're right on target.

When you're excited by a game's options alone, it's easy to be optimistic. The Conduit offers completely customizable controls, allowing players to modify button assignments, sensitivity, and everything else you could really want or need. Too many console shooters don't give you those privileges, and it's rarer still for them to do it this well. When it comes to the Wii specifically, only a handful of titles have shown how accurate the Remote can be, and it was pretty capable even before Wii Motion Plus came into being. If you've seen any of the incredible videos by Johnny Lee and other Wii homebrew enthusiasts, you're already aware of that.

The Conduit controls like a dream. So dreamlike, in fact, that our E3 crew at its demonstration asked if it had aim assist. It doesn't, and they don't want it to; the emphasis is on true-to-life pinpoint accuracy instead. There's no half-assing about it, and everything that we saw really drove that point home. In fact, the developers were embarrassed by the demo's placeholder voice acting, and that was a riot – it was superior to what you'd hear in most complete products. That demonstrated their intent to deliver an overall FPS that's both fun and cinematic, and they're on the right track.

If anything could be criticized, the maps could use more detail, but that's something we asked about that at the show. High Voltage still has a fair amount of work to do before The Conduit is complete, and modifying texture and level layouts is a given part of that. From what we saw, they prioritized the previously praised control scheme, which is fine; firm foundations like that are necessary, especially in this crowded genre.

On the other hand, this means that The Conduit isn't doing anything remarkably new. The developers are working to craft an entertaining storyline, but it's an alien invasion shtick. A fair amount of the shooter's features are cribbed from popular titles like Halo, too, meaning you'll be able to have multiple weapons, pick up new ones on the fly, and dual-wield them. Some pieces in your arsenal will have more than one function, and this is necessary to help the game stand out; one example was a fascinating energy gun.

Upon being charged up, it blasted out a bola-like shot that could affix itself to surfaces or enemies, spin around them, and then explode to damage other things around it. There are other ways the environment can be interacted with too, including the occasional destructible wall, which harkens back to the days of hidden rooms in Doom.

Innovation and classic inspirations have come together nicely in The Conduit, and it's looking to be a FPS that's not only worth a Wii owner's dollars, but a hardcore PC enthusiast's as well. You might not have the system for it yourself, but this could give hardcore games an excuse to get one, or borrow your friend's.

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