The Conduit

People are disappearing. There are strange bugs in the water supply. Someone has tried to kill the President. Ordinarily, you’d call in Jack Bauer to have a look-see and everything would be resolved in twenty-four hours. In the case of The Conduit, you’ll call in Secret Agent Ford to unravel an alien mystery the likes of which have not been seen outside of Mulder and Scully’s office walls.

The Conduit is a first-person shooter, designed specifically with the Wii in mind. Everything, from the gameplay to the guns on offer has been designed with Nintendo’s arm-waving console in mind and, as Wii shooters go, it’s not too bad. The first thing you’ll notice, as the opening cut-scenes pan over various newspaper clippings laying out the disasters that have befallen Washington, is that this game has a bloody strong story to it. Everything about the story is done well and the voice acting, by such luminaries as Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo is pretty damn good as well – a far cry from the usual phoned-in performances we’re usually treated to (I’m looking at you, CSI!).

Where the game falls down, however, is in the gameplay. As you may expect, this being a shooter, the gameplay is fairly straight forward to get to grips with. You move with the nunchuck and do all sorts of aggressive things with the Wiimote. The problem I found is that my aiming reticule was shaking like a defecating dog through a good majority of the game, which made it hard to land shots where I wanted. Head shots, in particular, became a thing of legend unless I zoomed in with more powerful weapons or really, really concentrated. When you’re playing an FPS you really don’t have the time to slowly move your reticule a few millimetres at a time to pick your shots, you’re looking for a quick BOOM! HEADSHOT! and on to the next. The Conduit does not deliver this.

As some sort of compensation, one assumes, for the slightly dodgy aiming a mere holding down of the Z-button activates target lock which, according to the tutorial level, makes it easier to hit your opponent. I would have to say that the tutorial level lies profoundly in that it doesn’t help you, it merely puts a box and health bar around your intended victim making it easier to see (by the non-diminished health) that you’ve missed. While on the subject of shooting I would also point out that there will be times when you’re fairly sure your finger has pressed the trigger but no shot is made on screen. This can be incredibly frustrating and lead to your next trigger-pull being overly hard, thus jerking your aim even more.

The USP in The Conduit is the All-Seeing Eye (or ASE as it’s known throughout the game). You’ll stumble across this little ball of fun at the end of the first level, and once it’s in your possession your eyes will be opened to a world of alien wonder. As you play through levels you’ll occasionally hear a beeping noise which indicates that there’s something close that the ASE can detect. Once you’ve activated it, you scan the room looking for hidden alien messages, Trust discs (basically the hidden collectables of The Conduit) and door locks. These door locks come in two types, the first and most straight forward looks like a glowing limpet – find the same number of limpets as is on your locked door and you’re through. The second type is more of a puzzler in the you’re presented with three C-shaped rings which you have to align in order to unlock, usually secret, doors. Find a secret and you’ll invariably find a nice new tasty weapon or something equally special to make you play through the game a little bit easier.

Graphically the game looks beautiful by Wii standards. The graphics are highly polished, and it is one of the nicer looking Wii titles,  but these are let down by the string of identical enemies you will encounter as you play through the game. A little more variety in my attackers would have made me happier than slaying the same orange-coverall wearing goon as I moved from train carriage to train carriage. Sound wise, as I’ve mentioned, the voice talent is excellent and the music sets the mood well – it’s something that you would expect to find on a conspiracy series TV show soundtrack. It looks and feels right. It just doesn’t tick all the boxes when you’re playing it.







One response to “The Conduit”

  1. Jamesbuc avatar

    A bit of a warning+slight story spoiler
    The ending is a real kick in the teeth, think the ending of XII for the PS2/Xbox and you’ll have the idea

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