Whether it’s deserved or not, the Nintendo Wii has been tagged as the video game system for soccer moms and soccer kids as opposed to the hardcore community. The Conduit, developed by High Voltage Software (America's Army: True Soldiers for the Xbox 360, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 for the PSP) might just change that perception.
The Conduit is a first-person shooter, a genre underserved on the Wii. Although it’s in a pre-alpha state, the version of the game we got our hands-on at the Nintendo Media Summit this past week was slick. The plot involves an alien takeover of Washington DC where the players fight evil monsters while running through a variety of levels and occasionally solving puzzles.
The level on display involved a trip through an underground bunker, where deeper mysteries are hinted at. The mission involved getting to a cache of neuro-toxins, which we can only assume caused the mutations of the guards. Seems like a standard FPS plotline—although, again, we only played one level of a game that isn’t finished yet, so we can’t say for sure.
Who cares about plot when they’re mutants/aliens to kill, though, right? And that’s where the strength of The Conduit shows. It’s a rock-solid shooter. Players move through the game world seamlessly and quickly, while running and gunning numerous enemies, pointing the Wiimote and dispatching them with headshots and (in our case) leg shots.
The enemy AI seems adequate. They take cover when you’d expect, and provide a reasonable challenge. Though this is just a quick impression as opposed to a detailed discussion—we just didn’t see enough of the many enemies planned for the game to get a feel for whether they’ll all “feel” different to kill, or be clones of each other with different sized hit boxes and health meters.
Shooting accuracy is assured with an easily customizable control system. You can calibrate every aspect of your aim easily, from the Wiimote’s sensitivity to turning speed and your “dead zone”, meaning that the joy of pointing and shooting your TV with your Wiimote doesn’t fall prey to the finicky controls of some other Wii-based shooters.
The Conduit looks fantastic. It features the kind of lighting effects, water effects, explosions and detailed animations that we haven’t seen in any previous Wii titles. The thing is covered in realistic shadows and objects get more detailed as your get closer to them, again, unlike some Wii shooters we’ve played. The level of graphical detail and sophistication makes it seem like you’re playing a 360 launch title as opposed to a Wii game. It’s pretty amazing. High Voltage are pushing the limits of the Wii so much, we half expected to see smoke rising from the console. It’s a pretty huge leap from, say, Red Steel.
The game also features The Eye of God, a magical orb the player holds in his hands and gazes through to discover hidden items and puzzles. Much could be made of this feature, although the puzzle in the level we played wasn’t particularly compelling. Remains to be seen how it will play in the larger game.
Overall, The Conduit probably isn’t going to change the face of video gaming with its innovation and inventiveness, but it seems like a rock-solid shooter that offers all the joys that fans of the genre have come to love. Add in the Wii control scheme and a finely tuned attention to detail, and The Conduit may well be the game the ‘Core have been waiting for.
Check it out yourself in the tech-demo video below: