Well it's been a while coming but The Conduit
is finally here, and after running through the solo campaign in High Voltage Software's Wii exclusive FPS I've come away satisfied and just a little bit frustrated. Don't get me wrong, it was a consistently fun campagin, HVS has nailed the controls and there are some very cool twists in the story. HVS just emulated the "Halo
Effect" when it came to difficulty. I can't blame them for imitating such a popular game, but one of my main issues with all of Bungie's entries in the Halo series is how they approach difficulty. Most of it is trial and error; you die a lot and replay the same sequence over and over until you figure out what to do or get lucky enough to survive.
You don't run into this as much in Conduit but there are a few sequences where it's more about buckling down and plowing through than strategy. In Halo, cowering behind a rock every few seconds destroyed the "Master Chief is an immortal badass" theme Bungie harped on all the time and I can imagine that just like Halo's artificially difficult Legendary setting, Conduit will present more of this grinding difficulty when I ratchet up the challenge level. Other than that, Conduit's solo mode is a fun action-conspiracy romp with some fun Washington DC environments, cool futuristic weaponry and plently of aliens/government agents to disintegrate/ventilate.
The visuals really are a treat and HVS has pulled off effects previously thought impossible on Wii. Normal, bump and cube mapping are all present, with some nice lighting effects, lively particles and lots of tasty bloom. Vaporising spec-ops guys with a slimy organic firearm never looked so good. The environments can get bland and low-res at times but it's a worthwhile sacrifice to get the enemies, guns and effects looking so pretty. It all sticks at a rock solid framerate too.
The controls are definitely the best part, and turn an above-average shooter into a very good one. The default setup is pretty well balanced but if you so desire you can customize just about any sensitivity setting or button mapping, so no matter what you'll find something that works for you. It really does feel closer to a keyboard and mouse and I actually prefer HVS's controls to dual analog now. I just wish all Wii shooters were as smooth as Conduit and Metroid Prime 3.
I've played around with the multiplayer a bit and it's surprisingly robust, you can tell HVS tried their hardest to free Conduit's online mode from Nintendo's backwards restrictions. The unique alien weaponry makes the battles more interesting than your average FPS and HVS has included some creative multi modes like Bounty Hunter. I'll have more on that in the full review but for now, Conduit is a decent FPS with really great controls, impressive graphics for a Wii game, a cool story and the first must-have online multiplayer on the Wii.