Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: High Voltage Software
Release Date: June 23, 2009
While the Wii is known as this generation's casual machine, some recent titles are seeking to make the device more accessible for the hardcore crowd. The recently released MadWorld and House of the Dead: Overkill both earned raves from gamers who are tired of waggling and Miis, but the console still has a long way to go if it wants to cast off the stink of casual. Perhaps the most high-profile title drawing interest from the hardcore is The Conduit, and it seems poised to deliver yet another blow to the Wii's casual-friendly cred.
Up to this point, The Conduit has had people wondering, often loudly, if it would work. Shooters on the Wii have a decidedly mixed history, with titles like the Metroid Prime series scoring big hits while hardly anyone can forget about the clunker that was Red Steel. Thankfully, this title seems to trend closer to the former, and it may even be able to surpass what has long been considered the gold standard.
Our demo showcased the game's very first level, and a lot of our time was spent in menus, which normally aren't that exciting to gamers. These menus are different, however, as they showcased just how much customization and how many options are available. Players can adjust cursor sensitivity and speed, the Wiimote dead zone, and the amount of room the character has to look up and down and side to side. With the sensitivities turned up all the way and the dead zone knocked down all the way, the title plays almost exactly like your standard mouse-and-keyboard PC shooter, minus the keyboard. Movements are lightning quick, and players have the freedom to look and shoot wherever they want.
The other major issue worth worrying about is that of button customization, and The Conduit allows players to completely remap all the controls so that things feel just right. To further improve your life, all adjustments can be done in-game, so you'll be able to immediately see how your changes affect every aspect of the handling. Just to be clear, if you end up sucking at this game, it's clearly not High Voltage's fault, as they've bent over backward to accommodate players.
The major weakness still remaining is the game's fairly generic characters and story line. So far, all we have is the standard sci-fi clichés of alien invasions and government cover-ups, so barring any major twists or huge revelations, the plot will likely end up as a mostly forgettable affair.
While I've been tentative to embrace The Conduit as the real deal, that fear is all but gone now. The story may be generic, but the mechanics are rock solid, and that's really all we hardcore owners need in order to get behind a Wii shooter. High Voltage is clearly putting their all into this one, and it's likely that the end results will be highly impressive.
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