The Conduit Review
I really love the Wii. After a couple slow periods and increasingly angry gamers grumbling over high system sales and a major lack of quality releases, Nintendo has stepped it up in 2009. Madworld started the year off strong with a good blend of brutally fun gameplay and enough gore to keep the 15-19-year-old crowd interested in the system. Punch-Out!!! followed and demanded the attention of old and new gamers alike, and now, one of the Wii's most highly-anticipated third party titles ever, The Conduit, is out, and it has everyone talking. Is this ambitious first-person shooter, on a system BUILT for first-person shooters, another must-own title? Or is it a typical, third-party-on-a-Nintendo-system disaster? As much as I wanted it to be the former, the truth lies somewhere in between the two.
If you check the Internet or watch TV, you've heard of this game. The ad saturation has been amazing, with television commercials running around the clock and banner ads on tons and tons of websites. So if you've been living in a cave on Mars with your fingers in your ears, here's a quick summary: The Conduit is Sega's long-anticipated first-person shooter for the Nintendo Wii that is supposed to drag the console up to speed in the online shooter market and revolutionize the way we play games that feature only a bouncing rifle in the lower center of the screen, rather than a full, visible character. It tells the tale of Tom Ford, a shadowy organization called The Trust and a whole bunch of aliens, and overall, it's a pretty good game that almost – ALMOST – lives up to the hype.
The main issue with the game is the controls. Don't break out the torches and pitchforks just yet; give me a chance to explain my discontent. I really like the idea of a Wii-controlled first-person shooter – look how well it worked in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Even games like Medal of Honor Heroes 2, and to a lesser extent, Red Steel, proved the Wii-mote/nunchuk is a great basis for the first-person genre. But like those latter two games, small issues keep The Conduit from attaining the glorious controls of Metroid Prime 3. The main issue is the sensitivity. Yes, The Conduit lets you control every single aspect of how the Wii-mote/nunchuk is used, but none of the sensitivity settings feel correct. Things are either too loose or way too tight. When they are too loose, it is difficult to keep the crosshairs trained on even the closest of enemies; when they are too tight, it's impossible to fire at one enemy after another because the aiming reticule is unresponsive and slow. Holding Z on the nunchuk provides a lock-on to your closest foe, but it barely works and seems to invite more distant enemies to charge while you are blasting in vain it whatever sucker you sort of have in your sights. I feel like if things, especially in the lock-on area, were a bit more like Metroid Prime 3, this could have been the Wii game of the year (though not for me – I'm a die-hard Punch-Out!!! fan).
I mentioned that the game gives you more options than you could hope for in customizing the controls. After reading so many positive reviews, I feel like most people will be able to find some kind of perfect balance for their personal style. After fiddling with my options for nearly an hour-and-a-half, I gave up on trying to find my "right fit," and instead attempted to adjust to the default settings. No dice. Maybe the controls won't be an issue for you if you can unearth a scheme that makes you comfortable, but since I wasn't able to, even after a concerted effort, I had to chalk up the controls to the negative column.