First Impressions: The Conduit on Wii
What up, Con-DUDE's and Condu-ETTES? Adam here! Before I get into this preview, let's break apart a classic … Goldeneye 007 for Nintendo 64. First-person shooters are constantly being compared to it, and, apparently, nobody has lived up to it ... well except for Perfect Dark, which was made by the same developer, Rare.
What made those games incredible? Why can't anybody in the next-gen live up to a game that graced a dead console TWELVE years ago?! In my opinion, it had to be the tight corridors, the unpredictable enemy AI, and a sense of freedom and pacing with a seamless (but non-intrusive) blending of puzzle-solving. There was always something interesting to do, and the freedom you had to solve the multiple missions made you FEEL like you were actually in charge of the tale's outcome. Goldeneye and Perfect Dark felt like REAL games, without the flash/crutch of cinematic grandeur defining the experience, as so many of today's games tend to do. That was the case until June 23rd, when a new first person shooter will grace yet another Nintendo console. Prepare for The Conduit.
Recently, I was privileged enough to have a one-on-one with the game (courtesy of developer High Voltage Entertainment) and was blown away by what I saw and felt while playing The Conduit. This is the real deal, and the closest a game has ever come to feeling like Goldeneye or Perfect dark -- yeah, you can quote me on that. The story focuses mainly on a freak alien invasion of Washington D.C., where portal-like devices known as "Conduits" are used to deploy their forces throughout a battle-ravaged city. Simple sci-fi fare, but as they say, the devil is in the details. Suspicions arise as to the involvement of the U.S. government. Armed with sci-fi gadgets and high-powered weapons, players will battle aliens, rouge agents and enemy forces as a former secret service agent codenamed “Mr. Ford.”
Our hero, Michael Ford, is voiced by actor Mark Sheppard (you may have seen him in little shows like "Firefly" and "Battlestar Galactica" ... heard of those?) who does a stellar job selling the character. Michael is a Secret Service agent who is inducted into a secret Government team known as "The Trust" after saving U.S. President Charles Thompson during an assassination attempt. John Adams (voiced by Mark's REAL father, William Morgan Sheppard) is the commander of The Trust who orders Ford to penetrate the Washington D.C. area to discover the sinister motives for the alien Drudge's invasion. One of the primary antagonists is a man calling himself Prometheus (voiced by Hercules himself, Kevin Sorbo), a former member of the Trust who left the organization for unknown reasons and later fell in league with the Drudge. Couple that bit of intrigue with tight game play and ultra smooth execution and we might very well have a classic on our hands!
What comes next is a blur of vicious aliens slashing at you from every corner of the building we are exploring. Too many hits and the world swims out of focus before you hit the ground … your own twitching hand the last thing you’ll ever see. Aliens aren’t the only menace you’ll encounter as wave after wave of “men in black” suited up like agents from The Matrix are on the attack along side a strike force in full battle gear. From the top of an escalator, I wait patiently with my long range scope and pick off each trooper as he sticks his head out. Even though it seems like we are at JFK Airport, there are still canisters nearby that explode with a well placed bullet, taking out multiple targets at once. In a spooky turn, I watch all my enemies in a section re-animate with a glowy red power surrounding them. For a moment they resemble rag dolls and then they are back to the business of ending my life. In another section while blowing through a train, I wield a sort of laser blaster that pulses or charges up for an impressive bolt of energy. We are told there is even a weapon that can seek out the enemy around corners!
The biggest advantage for The Conduit is in the way this game plays. I was sold from the moment I jumped into it, and it left me wanting more (in a good way!) For those who want to mess around with the controls, The Conduit offers easy customizable control features, such as an option to change the size of the bounding box, the speed at which the player can move the camera and cursor sensitivity. If that isn't enough, the player can adjust these options in real time, without having to leave the adjustment screen to try the changes. High Voltage has also included the option for the player to change the control layout, giving every player the freedom to play The Conduit in the way that makes them the most comfortable. Never before have I seen such a flexible control scheme, and it is MORE than welcome. It's the primary difference between "you playing the game" and "the game playing YOU".
One of the more interesting features of The Conduit is a device known as the "All-Seeing Eye," or ASE, which the player earns earlier in the game and used to solve various puzzles, or uncover secret story details. The ASE can detect hidden traps and freakish enemies scattered throughout a level, and reveal special features in the extremely varied environments that can help the player to progress further. AWESOME. The rest is what you would expect from a first person-shooter on the Wii. Point-and-shoot, kill a bunch of creeps, solve some awesome puzzles, save the princess, then we all go home happy (well, maybe not the last two, but you catch my drift).
How to the graphics hold up? It's the Wii. While graphically the weakest of the three next-gen consoles, The Conduit is an absolute marvel on Nintendo's experimental system. The game uses an engine known as Quantum 3 that pushes the console to the limit without jerking the frame rate. The result is an onslaught of impressive effects never-before-seen on the Nintendo Wii. Gimmicks include bump-mapping, reflection and refraction, light and shadow maps and projections, specular and Fresnel effects, missive and iridescent materials, advanced alpha blends, gloss and detail mapping, motion blur, interactive water with complex surface effects, and animated textures----I hope you got all those, because there will be a quiz later. NERD TEST!!
On June 23rd, where will you be? Kicking serious butt in The Conduit, I hope! You've never played anything like it. While seemingly inspired by Metroid Prime 3, this game feels like a complete evolution of everything we've come to love about gaming. This is not just a first person shooter. This is an experience.
Bring on the Drudge!
The Conduit Features:
• Conspiracy-driven Action – Dive into an engaging story set in modern day Washington D.C. involving secret agents, invading aliens, and centuries-old government cover-up conspiracies.
• Wii specific Controls – Robust calibration and controls customization built from the ground up for the Wii allow you to tailor the game to your preferred style.
• Intense Online Multiplayer – Grab your friends and join up online to battle in a variety of multiplayer modes.
• Ruthless Enemies – Vast numbers of incredibly realistic AI enemies react to player’s moves by taking cover and utilizing elements in the environment to their advantage.
• Highly Detailed Visuals – The award winning graphics feature dynamic environment mapping, interactive water with real-time reflection and four-stage texture composition that includes gloss, diffuse and bump-mapping.
• Award Winning Development – IGN Best Shooter Game of E3 2008 (Wii), IGN Best Graphics Technology of E3 2008 (Wii), IGN Best Overall Wii Game of E3 2008, and GameTrailers.com Best Wii Game of E3 2008.
• Peripherals – Supports Nintendo’s new Wii Speak peripheral during multiplayer matches.
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