THE CONDUIT Nintendo Wii Review

     July 8, 2009

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During Nintendo’s press conference at this year’s E3, the Nintendo brass revealed an interesting statistic: 60% of all American households still do not have any home console whatsoever. After making pledges to wage their own personal war against this statistic (in much nicer terms since it is Nintendo) by promising more games to appeal to the casual gamer, they also said that they were afraid of isolating their hardcore audience (guess the Wii’s gimmick is finally wearing off).

To appeal to the hardcore gamer, Nintendo showcased games from third-party developers like Red Steel 2, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Measures (both published by Ubisoft) and a decent selection from SEGA. The presentation by SEGA was surprising since many associate them with the now-tired and mediocre-at-best Sonic the Hedgehog series. Following the release of the solid hit Madworld (a Running Man meets Sin City gore-fest exclusive for the Wii), many felt that SEGA was ready to re-stake a claim as a strong third-party developer. With that in mind, I give you SEGA’s newest exclusive title for the Wii: The Conduit. Review after the jump:

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In The Conduit, you play as Michael Ford, an agent for a secret government organization known as “The Trust” tasked with keeping the world at peace while protecting America’s interests. You begin by following the orders of your shadowy leader, John Adams, as you attempt to retrieve stolen technology by a terrorist known only as “Prometheus”. As you explore the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, you begin to uncover a conspiracy that reaches into the highest levels of government and involves a lot more than an experimental piece of technology.

In a decision that will change your life and the fate of a nation, you befriend Prometheus as you realize that Adams has his own agenda and that the stolen technology is not of earthly origin. Now, you must wage a one-man war against your government as you try to single-handedly prevent an alien invasion that would spell the fall of life as we know it.

With a game that had as much hype and potential as this one, it’s no surprise that it fell short. It is a surprise, though, that it did not even come close to what was expected of it. As the only true first-person shooter for the Wii, it would have been difficult for hardcore gamers who play the Wii (is that an oxymoron?) to not be satisfied with this game but this game disappoints on every level.

The story had potential, but as it unfolds, it looks and feels like a Perfect Dark rip-off from the N64. It’s a first-person shooter, has government agents, alien invasion, crazy technology, you befriending an enemy, and your friends becoming enemies; an original storyline would have been appreciated.

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The game also looked like something from two console-generations ago. Horrible enemy models with environments that looked like amorphous blobs painted on a canvas combine to make this one of the worst looking games to come out in years. I understand the Wii does not have the graphics power of the other consoles, but I’ve seen it do so much better than this.

The music sets a good feel and pace for the game and the sound effects work, but the voice acting is abysmal. Even with Kevin Sorbo (star of the television hit Hercules) as Prometheus (interesting that he is best-known for a Greek demi-god and his character is named after a Greek god), the voice acting is over-the-top to the point of utter absurdity.

Aside from being one of the few first-person shooters for the Wii (Namely Metroid Prime 3 and Red Steel with everything else worth mentioning really being a rail-shooter), the other appeal for the game was the most highly-touted multiplayer for Wii since Super Smash Bros. Brawl. This is something that would compare to the best of the best on other systems as it allows up to 12 players to play.

This feature may be one of the few saving graces because it reminds me of the old game: Goldeneye (arguably the greatest multiplayer game ever). Unfortunately, with quickly depleted health bars and a horribly-long lobby-load time leaves this needing more polish to be ranked up there with a classic like Goldeneye or modern marvels like Gears of War or Halo.

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When all is said and done, this is a short game (8-10 hours of gameplay max) that seems to have been thrown together with spare parts from other games two generations ago with an enemy A.I. that is permanently set to cannon-fodder. If this is Nintendo’s best effort for hardcore gamers, maybe they’ve accidentally figured out the reason why 60% of people don’t own a home console.

Rating: D

Ray Carsillo

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