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FPS on the Wii?
No one is ever going to describe the Nintendo Wii as the home of the hardcore gamer. When it comes to the ever popular first-person shooter genre the Nintendo Wii has offered virtually nothing until now. The Conduit has been hailed as a worthy FPS title with a great control method. It shows you can make FPS games for the Wii console but it doesn’t come close to competing with kings of the genre like the Halo and Call of Duty series.
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The Conduit has one major selling point which gives it a potential edge against the competition on the Xbox 360 and PS3 and
that’s the control method. The game has been universally praised for supporting a fully customizable control scheme. Not only can you set up any control layout you like you can also alter things like run speed, turn speed, horizontal sensitivity, vertical sensitivity and even HUD layout. When it comes to first-person accuracy on console games this genuinely offers a step forward.
The story is not going to win any originality awards but it is well presented. You play as Agent Michael Ford in a single player campaign that lasts nine missions. The game is set in Washington D.C. and there are various conspiracy threads and twists as it unfolds. You are up against a bunch of nasty aliens known as The Drudge and the conduits that give the game its name are essentially destructible alien spawn points.
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The game is completely linear and you blast your way through one scripted sequence after another. The developers heralded the AI as top quality but they are just solid, there is nothing particularly special going on here tactically. You can play through in a few hours and you’ll clear the usual array of post apocalyptic city and futuristic base maps. The weapon set is standard and the only slightly unusual inclusion is the All Seeing Eye gadget which reveals various bits of information as you progress.
To be completely honest if you have played a lot of first-person shooters on the PS3 or Xbox 360 this will feel like familiar territory and although the controls are good they don’t make this an amazing gaming experience. There are two ways to look at the game and they perhaps account for the mixed reviews. If you judge The Conduit against other titles in the FPS genre it fades into the background, if you judge it against other Wii titles it becomes a must have game. This is no EA Sports Active it is a genuine attempt to cater for the hardcore gamer and it does but if you are an FPS fan you really should have gone for a different console.
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The multiplayer mode is the ultimate draw for an FPS if it is to have any longevity which is why so many FPS games nowadays focus on a solid multiplayer experience. With The Conduit there is support for up to 12 players and a range of game modes which are really just renamed versions of familiar deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag and so on. The team based modes are the most interesting and the game supports voice chat too. Sadly the game does suffer from lag especially when the player count goes up. It was originally intended to support 16 players but they obviously couldn’t get the performance they needed. The multiplayer is reasonably engaging but there are games out there which offer a far superior experience. If you want to try The Conduit multiplayer and you haven't yet ventured online with your console check out this Step by Step Guide to Getting Online With the Nintendo Wii.
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The engine that The Conduit is built upon was specifically designed for the Nintendo Wii and so instead of a lazy or sub-standard FPS port The Conduit offers a decent FPS experience. It actually looks really good with bump mapping, reflections, nice lighting and shadow and a range of effects like motion blur, heat distortion and colour desaturation to warn you about damage. Despite all that I can’t say it looks really good without adding “for a Wii game”. The motion capture animation is decent and offers some variation and the overall presentation in cut scenes and menus is polished.
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The voiceover work is well done and they hired Mark Sheppard to voice Agent Ford. They also hired his real life father William Morgan Sheppard to voice his mentor in the game, John Adams. There was also dialogue from Kevin Sorbo, best known for the TV show Hercules. The environmental sound is quite atmospheric and the sound effects are well handled. The package is neatly rounded off with some ambient tunes and nice instrumentals which ramp up when the action kicks off.
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The Conduit is a good quality title and that alone makes it a stand out for the Wii and is enough to recommend it as worthy of purchase. If you’ve been waiting for a decent FPS on the console then snap this up but be warned it doesn’t offer anything really special or new for the genre. It definitely marks a step up for the Wii in terms of visuals and the controls are great so it is worthy of your attention. It just lacks that special something that would elevate it to awesome status, maybe a vehicle section on hoverboards that used the Wii Balance Board would have tipped it over the edge, or is that just me?
- All references, cover art and screenshot from The Conduit for Nintendo Wii.