There’s a Conspiracy on the Wii!
June 10, 2009 – Maybe it’s just our culture, but for some reason, people love a good conspiracy story. Whether it’s books by Dan Brown, or specials on the Discovery Channel about Area 51, there’s always that little urge to follow the X-Files motto and “Trust No One.” The Conduit is a game that encourages this type of contrarian thinking.
With a story that makes connections to basically every conspiracy-ridden organization (including the recently popularized Illuminati and the Freemasons) as well as the joint arrival of a mysterious alien organization and an infectious virus, The Conduit has plenty of paranoia-riddled storylines to satiate even the most suspicious of minds. However, when we got our chance to go hands-on with it at this year’s E3, it wasn’t just the conspiracy-laden story that we were excited to experience.
One of the biggest features that developer High Voltage has touted throughout the development of The Conduit has been its visuals. This game is the best-looking third-party Wii game that I have ever seen, hands down. The enemies looked crisp and sharp. The environments, while not incredibly detailed, also looked clean and free of any of the dreaded “jaggies” so many Wii owners have come to tolerate. Texturing was smooth, and while we were told by a SEGA rep that all the damage in the game was pre-rendered, explosion effects still look great.
But, enough about how the game looks, let’s talk about how it plays. The Conduit has one of the most straightforward control schemes on the Wii, and as I was playing, I found myself saying “why hasn’t anyone else done this?” The game uses both the Wii-mote and the Nunchuk and lets you run around by using the Nunchuk’s thumbstick. You are then able to shoot by pointing your Wii-mote at the screen and pulling the trigger. One of the things that impressed me the most about The Conduit was that it was the only shooter on the Wii that I have ever played that did not use a rails system for movement. Being able to have the freedom to explore maps and run behind objects and discover hidden areas was certainly a welcome change for the emergent Wii shooter genre.
However, we quickly learned that The Conduit requires much more than just shooting. In addition to the arsenal of guns and grenades that your character is packing, you are also in possession of an “All Seeing Eye” (ASE) device that allows you to uncover clues you wouldn’t normally see. This ASE device allows you to view important notes scribbled on the walls, and it can also lead you to hidden passageways. Using the ASE is as simple as pointing your Wii-mote towards items you want to investigate with the ASE device equipped. Of course, all of this technology traces back to the mysterious alien race, or the American government, and as your character dives into combat, many of the game’s mysteries come to life.
One final feature that we were able to check out during our time with The Conduit was the customizable control scheme. The SEGA and High voltage representatives that we spoke to about the game were quick to point out that you could change your aiming speed and shooting style in real-time, without having to worry about any pesky loading screens or discovering that you set your options too high or too low. The customization aspect of the game certainly will please hardcore fans, and it might even make the game feel a little more accessible for the not-so-hardcore audience as well.
While playing, we were also told about The Conduit’s multiplayer modes, which will include various strategic and combat-based levels that will support online play for up to twelve people. And in even better news, you will be able to use the WiiSpeak peripheral in order to chat with other players! Although this may be a standard feature in other shooters, I was very surprised to hear about voice chat on the Wii, and was overjoyed with the prospect of being able to talk with friends while using the Wii.
The Conduit is definitely looking to be the definitive shooting experience on the Wii, and I have to say that I was surprised that it took this long to get a “real” shooter for the console. The Wii-mote and Nunchuck work very well for the shooter genre, and having a shooter experience that doesn’t involve the word “rails” was really enough to sell me on this game. However, the incredible visuals and tight control scheme have just further proven that this is a game that must be experienced on the Wii if you consider yourself among the hardcore ranks of Wii fans.
FPS Salvation Awaits
July 22, 2008 – First-person shooters are a dime-a-dozen on almost every other gaming platform, but the genre is seriously lacking representation on the Wii. Aside from Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Red Steel, and a handful of requisite WWII games, there’s not a heck of a lot of options available for Wii owners to get their shoot on. In part, this makes High Voltage Software’s upcoming FPS effort, The Conduit, even more appealing. From the top-to-bottom, it’s designed specifically for the Wii.
Interestingly, the folks at High Voltage are singing a tune often voiced by Wii enthusiasts whose interests are rooted far deeper than puppy raising simulators, casual titles, and mini-game collections; a lot more can be done on the system than what’s currently bring offered. The Wii’s family-friendly nature doesn’t mean it isn’t an appropriate venue for games geared towards hardcore players. To that end, they’ve set out to bring a mature game to the system that pushes the hardware and delivers a fast-paced FPS experience on par with the competition.
The Wii may not be packing the highest level of prowess in the graphic capabilities department, particularly when compared to other competing consoles, but grand things are still possible on Nintendo’s system. High Voltage’s proprietary Quantum3 engine raises the bar substantially in terms of graphics and gameplay, and it makes a broad range of visual effects typically seen on higher-powered systems possible on the Wii. With a quick glance at The Conduit in action, it’s possible to mistake the game for an Xbox 360 or PS3 title, and the visuals hold up well under closer scrutiny. The slick engine should put many other developers to shame; few other Wii games look this good. It certainly proves great-looking games with a very high level of detail are possible.
Sci-fi fans and alien conspiracy theorists should get a kick out of The Conduit’s story-line, since it resembles something straight out of the X-Files. When a larger number of government workers in Washington, D.C. suddenly come down with a debilitating flue-like virus dubbed “The Bug,” several key government buildings are left vulnerable and understaffed. Not long afterwards, a terrorist attack destroys a portion of the Washington Monument and a presidential candidate is assassinated by terrorists posing as her bodyguards. Meanwhile, an underground group called the Trust has discovered the attacks are actually of extraterrestrial invaders known as the Drudge. A recent Trust agent inductee, Mr. Ford, is sent in to infiltrate the heart of the conspiracy and kick some alien ass.
Besides a slew of nasty alien humanoids to eradicate, Mr. Ford – love the name – will also face giant beasts, zombified puppet humans infected by the alien virus, and even rogue humans who’ve dissented in favor of joining the alien invasion, among other adversaries. In some cases, you’ll have to destroy portals to stem the flow of incoming aliens. The equipment at your disposal for getting the job done with varies from standard military armaments like pistols, sub-machine guns, assault rifles, and rocket launchers to more advanced technology and alien weaponry. One of the more unique items includes a small metallic orb, called the All-Seeing Eye, that allows you to uncover invisible foes and hidden puzzle elements scattered throughout the game.
The Conduit will feature extremely customizable controls that can be adjusted in real-time in order to fine tune the gameplay experience to the personal tastes of each player. Controls will primarily use a combination of the Nunchuk and Wii Remote, but most can be re-mapped to wherever you see fit – including motion-controlled gesture. Even information on the HUD can be tweaked and relocated.
Online multiplayer modes are still in-development, though High Voltage is striving for 16 player matches with a variety of standard modes. The team is dedicated to providing a solid online experience in addition to the main story-driven game. Keep your eyes peeled for additional details on the multiplayer side of this promising title.
High Voltage appears to be aiming for pretty straight-forward FPS gameplay with The Conduit, but the impressive visuals and flexible control scheme are two key components to making this one a winner. Early gameplay footage has whetted our palates for some high-end FPS action on the Wii, and it appears The Conduit will not disappoint. It sets the bar quite high on the console, and other third-party developers would do well to pay attention.