Can Wii gamers be excited for 2009?

Seven key titles poised to make or break Nintendo's new year

The game:
The Conduit

What is it?
Highly anticipated FPS with claims of delivering a 360/PS3-quality experience.

Why you should care:
The Conduit aspires to prove Wii can handle a game built around graphics and online play. It’ll feature all manner of visual trickery and support 16-player matches of varying types – all things we take for granted on the other platforms. Essentially, High Voltage wants to make the game that proves Wii can still compete with PS3 and Xbox 360. Quote their chief creative officer, “we are trying to make a Wii game that looks like a 360 title.” Tall order, guys.

Why it might fizzle:
If any one aspect of The Conduit falls flat, be it the allegedly amazing control or the proprietary graphics engine, the whole package could be compromised. This is a delicate situation, trying to court serious fraggers over to a system that’s borderline shunned by the game’s target audience. Then again, with such a large install base, The Conduit could successfully activate a sleeper cell of FPS fans that didn’t yet realize they love the genre. Best of luck, High Voltage.

What about motion control?
In addition to its seemingly impossible task of making “pretty for a Wii game” a slur of the past, Conduit plans to out-perform every other Wii FPS in the control department too. Wii MotionPlus will be supported, wrapping even tighter scrutiny around a game that’s already got a lot to live up to.

The game:
The House of the Dead: Overkill

What is it?
Latest in a long line of on-rails shooters you’ve played to death

Why you should care:

Seriously, that’s it. “The hardcore you’ve been waiting for,” people.

Why it might fizzle:
There’s a damn good chance Overkill will be the same thing we’ve played over and over again. It’s equally likely the super slick trailer is nothing but a genius move by Sega’s American PR (so well-received we gave it a special award). However, House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return was a modest hit, so we have to assume the new game, made just for Wii and carrying some new gameplay features, will perform as well or better.

What about motion control?
You point and shoot. As long as they get that right, there’s no problem at all.

The game:
MadWorld

What is it?
A guy with a chainsaw arm beats the shit out of everyone.

Why you should care:
The most obvious point of interest is the presentation – totally black and white graphics a la Sin City, with red splotches of spurting blood spraying across the screen after a particularly gruesome finisher. It also has the distinction of being a new, M-rated property made just for Wii, which goes a long way on a system starved for attention.

Why it might fizzle:
Well, there’s the argument that Mature-minded gamers have already left the system, but even if they haven’t and initial response is strong, we worry the gameplay might wear thin. Though the over-the-top killsprees and striking visuals will impress, beat ‘em ups have a tendency to run out of steam halfway through.

What about motion controls?
Our latest hands-onpraises the gesture-based chainsaw-slaughtering and throwing motion used for hurling corpses at spiky walls. Again, sounds fun for 20 minutes spurts, but is all that waving and twirling necessary for beating someone’s skull into paste?

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