The Conduit Hands-On Preview

Written by Joe Martin

February 25, 2009 | 07:16

Tags: #conduit #goldeneye #shooter #wii

Companies: #nintendo #sega

Eye to Eye

The Conduit behaves almost exactly as you’d expect, which is to say that it’s exactly as you would hope an FPS on the Wii would behave.

The Wii remote is for aiming, the trigger for shooting, the C-stick for moving, the nunchuck buttons for ducking and jumping, A for using items and the d-pad for switching weapons and such. It’s so simple it shouldn’t need explaining, but try telling that to the developers who mugfistedly shove gesture-based controls in there.

Where The Conduit seems to excel though is in the actual balancing of the game and the way that the controls and obstacles have been so finely tuned that they’d make even Mozart smile – and he was a notoriously grumpy git.

All too often with Wii shooters developers get the basics right, but the details totally wrong it seems. Aiming with the Wii remote is a great idea in theory, but practically it’s nought but a pain in the backside unless you can turn around fast enough. Likewise, you don’t want the control to be too sensitive though, or you’ll end up pirouetting like a prat until someone puts a grenade in your gob.

The Conduit Hands-On Preview The Conduit Hands-On Preview - Thoughts

It’s the biggest compliment that we can pay to developer High Voltage to say that they seem to have actually balanced the game perfectly and done away with these issues – mainly thanks to the fact that they took ideas for control configs straight from the community.

Not all of The Conduit’s apparent successes are so technical though; many of them rely on the way that the game has cleverly combined its arsenal of alien weapons with the Wii’s motion sensing abilities. Much of this is epitomised in the All Seeing Eye, a special bit of alien tech that Ford salvages early on in the game and repeatedly uses to thwart the Drudge.

More of a tool than a weapon, the ASE projects a beam of light that’s used to interact with alien tech and reveal hidden areas. If you get alerted that you’ve strayed into an Drudge minefield then you’ll have to use the ASE to reveal the hidden explosives. If the Drudge are locking doors behind them then you can use the ASE to solve quick puzzles that allow you to progress or find hidden areas.

It’s the way that you keep switching between gunplay and puzzles that we find most reminiscent of games like Half-Life too, as the idea of breaking up otherwise continuous gunplay is something that Valve has historically excelled at too. It’s a great way to give players a chance to slow down and relax before combat fatigue sets in.

The Conduit Hands-On Preview The Conduit Hands-On Preview - Thoughts

It’s this well-paced fusion of different game styles that has us most exited about The Conduit too. The way that the combat and puzzle-solving has been mixed belies a deep understanding of how games in the developer and suggests that they’ll be able to make the mix work well through the entire game.

Granted though, there are weaknesses for the game. Graphically the Wii is pretty undernourished, we know, and The Conduit does a really good job with what it has to work with, maintaining a solidly playable framerate. Despite the technical successes though, The Conduit is distractedly ugly at times. Part of it is the lack of AA, but a lot of it is down to the palette used by the designers – the walls are all the same greys and browns, the enemies splattered with neon. The two just don’t go together that well, feeling a bit garish and immature somehow and reducing the hardcore appeal that is otherwise at the heart of The Conduit.

Still, as any seasoned gamer will know, graphics aren’t everything and The Conduit is still a thoroughly impressive game despite the jagged lines and conflicting colours. It’s the gameplay that really matters and that’s an area where The Conduit really excels, even if only in terms of what it can bring to the Wii and not what it can bring to gaming as a whole.

The Conduit is a Wii exclusive game from Sega that'll be release across Europe later this Spring.
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