There’s a new gunslinger in town for the Wii. The Conduit, a new FPS developed by High Voltage, is set on filling the gaping void in Nintendo’s catalog that’s begging for the Xbox equivalent of Halo. The only problem I see is that it's not going to have the same kind of affect on sales as its more famous run-and-gun predecessors.
It’s not because the game isn’t good. The Conduit simply struck me as a decent title that is going to come out against a lot of strong competition --especially now that third-party developers seem to be hitting their stride for Wii exclusives. The Conduit arrives on shelves this summer as part of a trio of upcoming Nintendo titles published by Sega that includes MadWorld and House of the Dead: Overkill. As far as I could tell from the build on the floor at Comic Con, The Conduit is going to need some work to stand up to the other Wii puppies in Sega’s litter.
The Conduit Exclusive Preview
High Voltage Software’s chief creative officer Eric Nofsinger took the time to take me through a demo. The Conduit puts you in control of Michael Ford, a former Secret Service agent working to fight off and alien race invading the earth called the Drudge. You’re working for what seems like a semi-shady group of characters known as the Trust who Nofsinger qualified as, “a kind of Illuminati-style group.” An NPC known as Prometheus (voiced by Kevin Sorbo) provides some in-game chatter, as well as information about the unfolding conflict. Of course, not all is at it seems. As usual gamers, you are just a man trying to make a living with alien bugs on one side and megalomaniacal groups with hidden agendas and murky ideologies.
As far as the gameplay, I’m still kind of on the fence. For me, the Wiimote simply lacks the necessary precision when it comes to using the infrared pointers. The Conduit’s gameplay pretty much revolves around pointing a targeting reticle with the Wiimote and blasting away. I couldn’t get used to the shaky quality that the Wii imposes on gamers -- it takes something away from the experience for me. The ability to edit the control sensitivities and parameters will allow gamers to mitigate the turn speed, cursor sensitivity and set the perimeter of the bounding box (inside the box you’re simply aiming, once the Wiimote reticle points outside the box Ford turns in that direction). What's more, you can adjust all the controls in real-time for instant feedback and corrections.
You steer Mr. Ford (anyone catch the Frisky Dingo reference there?) around with the thumbstick on the nunchuck. Other Wii-centric moves include melee attacks toggled by using a stabbing motion with the Wiimote and lobbing grenades by giving the ‘chuck and overhand toss.
Graphically, the game is a step up, blazing a trail with advances in normal mapping textures. And High Voltage manages to get a lot on the screen when it comes to multiple enemies, explosions and backgrounds. “A lot of developers overlooked the Wii, they didn’t innovate, which is unfortunate,” said Nofsinger, “Graphically I’m appalled at a lot of the titles out on the system. They look like GameCube games. It’s just laziness. The system is capable of a lot more.”
It’s good to see the Wii getting some serious love from third-party developers. High Voltage put The Conduit in development for a year and a half and clearly put a lot of work into the title. After my hands on battle, I’m not totally sold on the game as a platform-changer. I think it’s going to have a hard time competing for gamer dollars against some of its Sega stable mates.