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Critical Reception: Sega/High Voltage Software's  The Conduit

Critical Reception: Sega/High Voltage Software's The Conduit

June 24, 2009 | By Danny Cowan

June 24, 2009 | By Danny Cowan
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More: Console/PC, Columns



This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Sega's anticipated Wii first-person shooter The Conduit, which reviews describe as "a game that controls flawlessly and looks great." The Conduit currently earns a score of 79 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

IGN's Matt Casamassina scores The Conduit at 8.6 out of 10, explaining that the title arrives as one of the Wii's most anticipated third-party released to date.

"More than a year into Wii's life cycle, [High Voltage Software]'s leaders realized that few third-parties were even trying to make high quality titles for the traditional player and so they jumped at the opportunity -- the chance to prove themselves," Casamassina writes. "The company started work on a Wii-exclusive first-person shooter backed by a powerful proprietary 3D engine designed to maximize the system's technical potential -- and it funded the entire project itself."

Casamassina continues: "It's kind of a videogame Cinderella story, but does it have a happy ending? For gamers, yes. The Conduit is not a revolutionary first-person shooter, but it's a damned good one, particularly if you only own a Wii. High Voltage has created an FPS with great controls and graphics, a fun single-player romp and an addictive multiplayer offering."

Casamassina finds that The Conduit is a great fit for the Wii platform and its capabilities. "The title features the tightest, most comfortable control scheme of any console-based first-person shooter to date," Casamassina asserts. "The Conduit makes good on its potential by enabling you the option to fully tweak your controls to your liking, setting horizontal and vertical sensitivity, dead zone, turn speed, running speed, HUD layout and transparency, and more."

While Casamassina notes that much of The Conduit's gameplay has been done before in other titles, he feels that the title is a worthy purchase for Wii owners in search of a solid first-person shooter. "While the game does not turn the genre upside-down," he admits, "it is innovative in certain areas -- for example, it features the most customizable, precise and enjoyable controls of any console shooter created, hands down. Meanwhile, the technology powering the experience is leaps and bounds ahead of most third-party offerings for Nintendo's system. Combined, you've got a game that controls flawlessly and looks great."

Chris Antista at Games Radar rates The Conduit at 8 out of 10. "'It's pretty good...for a Wii game.' That's a qualifier we're sick of hearing, yet one that's nearly impossible to escape when talking traditional Wii offerings," Antista says. "Luckily, it's one we don't really need to apply to here, since Sega and High Voltage appear to have nominated themselves as the Wii's hardcore torchbearers. It feels great to say it: The Conduit is fun, controls well, and is, at times, quite beautiful...yes, for a Wii game."

Antista notes that The Conduit's graphics are particularly impressive. "Sure, the environments may come courtesy of the architectural design firm of Brown, Gray, and Blocky, but there are certain visual elements that can almost, sorta, kinda, trick you into thinking you're playing a 360 game in standard def," he writes. "The All-Seeing Eye for instance, the omniscient flashlight you use to unlock doors and reveal secrets, embodies textures and lighting effects just detailed enough so as not to let one get away with calling it 'last-gen.'"

The Conduit's Wii-specific control scheme also works well, for the most part. "Instead of a mouse or right analog stick, you've got an invisible border on screen," Antista explains. "Once you're reticule moves beyond that perimeter, the screen dynamically shifts your perspective in the direction your crosshairs are headed.

"In hallways this works fine... In open areas, not so much. Fortunately, the game is linearly designed with that shortcoming in mind. We'd say it takes a while to get the hang of, but it doesn't. Especially if you're willing to tinker, since the dead zone is just one of the many things that is yours to adjust!"

Antista feels that The Conduit's robust multiplayer offerings make up for what he describes as an "unremarkable" single-player campaign. "Few developers bother to utilize Nintendo's aging guts and motion controls to churn out exclusive, traditional content, and fewer still refine that into anything resembling a meaningful experience," he concludes. "We can't wait to see what else the Quantum 3 engine has in store."

GamePro's Tae Kim gives The Conduit 3.5 out of 5 stars. "Let's get the inevitable comparisons to Goldeneye out of the way right now: The Conduit is the closest you will get to recapturing the magic of Goldeneye on a Nintendo console," he begins. "The single-player campaign is definitely reminiscent of Rare's classic."

Kim warns that this similarity is not necessarily a good thing. "I consider the similarity to Goldeneye as both a positive and a negative," he explains. "Sure, it's great to finally have a shooter that spiritually follows in the footsteps of a great game you played in the past, but damn, the N64 was two generations ago -- what does it say about the Wii that The Conduit doesn't blow Goldeneye's graphics out of the water the way Halo 3 outshines the original Halo or Killzone 2 completely destroys the original Killzone?"

The Conduit's narrative also proves underwhelming. "The Wii's lack of power doesn't explain the boring story that had me tapping the A button as fast as I could during cutscenes," Kim recalls. "There's some mumbo jumbo about some shadow organization that's plotting to take over the world using aliens or something; I don't know, it didn't make a lot of sense."

Control-wise, however, The Conduit performs admirably. "I will admit that the weapon aiming, a crucial aspect of FPS games that I've never really enjoyed on the Wii or any console game for that matter, is actually handled really well in The Conduit," Kim says. "I'd go so far as to say it's the best I've seen in a Wii title. Turning your viewpoint is smooth and there are menu options that let you customize pretty much every aspect of the interface that you could want. I played with the default and was absolutely happy with it."

"To be blunt, The Conduit is a by the numbers shooter that offers a couple of thrills but ultimately doesn't make much of an impact," Kim notes in conclusion. "If your system of choice is the Wii then I suggest you check it out, as action games are few and far between on the platform and The Conduit does have its positives."


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