Review: The Conduit

The Wii has become a sort of mecca for shovelware, lackluster forays in minigames, and other throwaway adventures that are nowhere near the $30-$50 you might be spending. First-person shooters are very hit-or-miss on the console as well, which is why I was pleasantly surprised upon taking notice of The Conduit, one of the system’s most solid offerings. While it isn’t breaking the FPS mold and it certainly isn’t turning the genre on its head, it offers some decidedly fantastic gameplay that you can’t argue with since the Wii sorely needs a title like this to even begin to stand up to heavy-hitters like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

This futuristic tale places you in the shoes of one Michael Ford, who while fighting through a dilapidated Metro tunnel, happens upon an enormous conduit of sorts deep within the heart of the structure. After taking out numerous aliens that happen to be surrounding it, he takes a step within the conduit, only for the viewer to be taken almost a week back in time to witness the events leading up to this one. Ford is asked by the leader of the strange Trust organization, John Adams, to recover a missing Trust prototype that was carted off by a terrorist known only as Prometheus. Michael Ford is tasked with ensuring that the ambush on Prometheus in order to recover the prototype and capture the terrorist before he can cause any more harm. However, as you probably imagined, the story goes deeper than a simple “catch-the-terrorist” operation. The plot is revealed between gameplay, so it’s a bit awkward in that regard since you’re half-playing, half-learning about the in-game world. You might lose interest in what’s actually going on early on since it’s a bit hard to keep up with the storyline when it jumps around and is told in interstitials.
As far as gameplay goes, you’ll be gallivating back and forth throughout a myriad of different locations, including subways, hotels, banks, and even short jaunts outside (shock and awe!). To do so you’ll utilize a very impressive control scheme that relies on both the Wii remote and nunchuk in order to create a very firm FPS control system that works quite well. Sure, moving and aiming is still a bit of a chore as you would expect (think a more polished Red Steel), but The Conduit has done a fantastic job of making a very playable Wii FPS. If it weren’t for the fact that you’re required to keep your arms moving while playing you might forget you’re playing a Wii game. Unfortunately, grenades have been mapped so that you must pretend to toss one via the nunchuk and those throws are VERY hit-or-miss. You’ll need to high-tail it out of the vicinity when tossing a grenade, because they often land so close to you and their explosions are so potent you’ll likely be taken along with the blast.
There aren’t any puzzles to speak of save for some simple hide-and-seek with artifacts on the walls with the prototype or some very simple navigation anomalies, so as far as gameplay goes, this is a very vanilla shooter. It doesn’t do much to reinvent the genre, but for the Wii it’s quite impressive as it’s completely playable. It feels just like a “real” cinematic experience that you might find on one of the ‘bigger” consoles, something that the system has been sorely lacking. Despite its rather mundane run-and-gun aesthetic, The Conduit does remain quite entertaining, and I declare that a very big accomplishment.
The graphics are pretty impressive for a  Wii title, but nothing particularly standout in the realm of beautiful eye candy you might be spoiled with on your fancy PS3s and Xbox 360s. Still, you can tell that some hard work went into making this title something the devs could be proud of, to herald as the Wii’s one “true” first-person shooter experience. You’ll take note of some particularly impressive level design, though the aliens (the Drudges) are admittedly lacking in the awesome department. They’ll rarely change throughout the game and you’ll begin to realize exactly why the aliens were named such. The voice acting is actually top-notch, and you’ll find that the rather bland story interstitials are given new life by charismatic voice actors who clearly were interested i the project and making it the best it could be.
The Conduit also features some very intense multiplayer mode that supports Wii Speak, but only between friends. As you can imagine this severely cripples the amount of real involvement you can experienc within multiplayer scuffles since you can’t even communicate with them. At least these offerings are robust, and shootouts are fast and furious versions of the actual campaign. However, even though the game is still relatively new, it’s difficult to find enough players to be matched up with consistently. This is a problem that always seems to plague newer or lesser-known games, even on the Xbox 360 or PS3, and since frankly the Wii is not an online system, it should have been omitted entirely since it will become relatively useless in a matter of time.
All in all, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by The Conduit and most of what it had to offer, save for a few rough edges and banalities that could have been easily avoided. If you’re looking for some great (albeit generic) FPS action on a Nintendo console, The Conduit is a great choice. We can only hope that future FPS titles for the system adopt the superb controls and tightness that are lacking in most of the other games in the Wii’s library.

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