The Conduit is one of the most-hyped games for the Wii that I’ve seen in a long time. Every advertisement I see for it boasts that is has “great graphics,” “tight controls” and “gripping gameplay,” but they always have to add that damning endnote: “... for a Wii game.”
The Conduit desperately hopes to measure up to sci-fi/action shooters on those other consoles, games with truly cutting-edge graphics like Halo 3 or Resistance 2. But sadly, the Wii simply can’t measure up to the Xbox 360’s or PlayStation 3’s graphical processing power. So eager is The Conduit to be seen as a peer of those games, every level even has its own “achievements” for accomplishing certain tasks. “Aw, how cute!” I thought. “It’s like I’m playing an Xbox 360!”
The levels in the game, despite taking place in famous Washington, D.C., locations and landmarks, look blocky and repetitive. The human enemies all look identical since they all wear the same black armor. Even GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64 gave us enemies with different faces and uniforms. And that was 12 years ago. The alien enemies offer a little bit of variety, but you’ll still be seeing many of the same types over and over in every level.
And the enemies aren’t even redeemed by being the least bit intelligent. The ones with guns will stand idly by just waiting for you to headshot them from afar (most of the guns in the game come with a scope), and the rest of them will rush straight toward you. Once they get to you, they will either claw at you like a puppy asking to be fed or just jump into your face and explode. The worst part is that the little buggers come from spawn points and will literally not stop coming until you find their nests and shoot them.
The story is rather basic and serves as nothing but a setup for you to go into every level and shoot lots of stuff. You start working for a government agency tracking down a terrorist, when it turns out (surprise!) that the terrorist is actually the good guy and the agency you’re working for is in cahoots with the aliens. So you steal some secret technology, arm yourself and go to town. And the story itself only comes out in boring cutscenes between each stage, with back-and-forth dialogue between you and whoever’s ordering you around. All in all, I found myself waiting for them to hurry up and let me skip ahead.
One thing about The Conduit that I did like was the multiplayer. You can play online with strangers without the use of the dreaded friend codes, but of course, you still need those to play with people you’re familiar with. Still, being able to just jump into a random game counts as an improvement when you’re talking about the Wii.
Like with other shooters on the Wii, you aim by pointing the Wii-mote at the screen, and you shoot with the trigger button. The nunchuk is used to move around and throw grenades. I note with sadness that, even in the most cutting-edge Wii game, you still have to waggle in order to do melee attacks and lob grenades.
And like with all shooters these days, you can only carry two weapons at a time, and you have constantly regenerating health. The point of having regenerating health is so you don’t have to gobble up health packs, but The Conduit puzzlingly still includes them. I can only hazard a guess that this is because your health bar regenerates so slowly that the only alternative would be to stand there impatiently waiting for it to refill after every firefight.
The game lets you fine-tune the controls all you like. You can adjust sensitivity, the heads-up display and the button layout. I unfortunately did not find the setting that makes The Conduit an interesting game.