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The Conduit

Championed by many in the press as the prettiest game on Wii, The Conduit truly is the belle of the ball. Journos paw at her silky framerate. They ogle her depth of field. Little bits of their slobber fleck her real-time shadows, particle effects, bump mapping and hi-res textures. But they don’t get to know her. We’ve deliberately held off covering The Conduit until we could get a proper hands-on impression, and while she’s a gorgeous game, she ain’t half dull to hang out with.

Boot it up and the looks are a slap to the face. A really high-res slap to the face. The gleaming sliver of reflection off a gun barrel. The anatomically correct shadow where crude blobs normally reside. Grenades that send human puppets and their alien masters flailing through the air. Water that – in The Conduit’s finest trick – reflects the environment, and ripples and distorts accordingly. As a series of oooh and ahhh moments, The Conduit really delivers. The pace, too, never falters: it took four successive grenades to force a framerate hiccup, and only then with smoke and flying limbs filling the screen.

Our beef? That it plays like a glorified tech demo. The technological building blocks are there, but fundamentally it seems like High Voltage doesn’t have the knowhow to put them together, y’know, and make something fun. Take the water, for example. Stumbling into a half-submerged room, your jaw droops at the beautiful wet before your brain kicks in and asks: dur, what is this water for? Deep in an underground complex, could it be a henchmen-only spa? Maybe it’s a gross alien spittoon? Either way, it exists only as a graphical effect. Unless ‘cleaning your mucky boots’ is a secret objective.

It doesn’t help that the demo level is a trudge through a corridor facility. A corridor facility that culminates in our hero, Mr. Ford, delivering some gun justice to explosive barrels. Once more with feeling: explosive barrels. So we get a central corridor to show off the wide-corridor tech, with smaller rooms letting them flaunt their cubicle-generating skills. Each of the rooms has some shelves in them. We’ll be damned if they aren’t the finest looking shelves on Wii, but the fact remains: THEY ARE SHELVES. In these less-than-stellar settings the effects aren’t special, they’re necessary.

Moving through the facility we found plenty of rooms with abandoned desks and computers, but nothing to rival stepping out of Samus’ gunship for the first time onto Elysia. Hell, even Samus’ dull bit – the genero Olympus – had the decency to give us space battles to watch through the windows. There are no windows in corridor world. Hopefully it’s just an early artistic stumble.

11 comments

  • Cernunnos - November 20, 2008 4:44 p.m.

    why do you claim the graphics are nice? they may be nice compared to other wii titles, but even Halo 2 looks (marginally) better than this! thats like saying the "fasttrack" is super-fast OMG!! just because its the fastest traktor. hoping this will turn out good. so far ive found wii's controlls on shoters to be jumpy, imprecise and simplified, hope that wont be the case with this. i feel sorry for all those who have bought wii's. so here's to hoping that NMH and SSB:B no longer will be the only good wii-games. :)
  • MacGyver1138 - November 19, 2008 4:59 p.m.

    Even if this game ends up being bland, at least it is a step in the right direction for the Wii. It could use more "adult" games, or at least more games with depth.
  • grappler51 - November 18, 2008 8:38 p.m.

    This game looks really cool. I hope the gameplay's OK. Finally a hardcore shooter for Wii!!
  • fionnoh - November 16, 2008 10:55 p.m.

    is there an online multiplayer?
  • motang - November 14, 2008 1:28 p.m.

    Looking forward for this one to come out!
  • grimm128 - November 14, 2008 12:50 p.m.

    SECOND TO TELL SHADOW OFF
  • moredhel_1 - November 14, 2008 4:12 a.m.

    Thanks for the preview - I for one am quite excited about its potential as not only a powerhouse tech. demo on the Wii that finally shut some fanboyz up, but that it'll actually be a good game, and start to grow a more serious gaming audience for the system. If not, well, there's always World of Goo.
  • DEATHWISH - November 15, 2008 3:32 a.m.

    I thought something like this would happen. High Voltage doesn't have the best record for shoveling out quality games, now, does it? Thankfully, the majority of gamers who plan to pick this one up are only interested in the online multiplayer (myself included). This one surley won't dissapoint.
  • jimsondanet - November 14, 2008 11:39 a.m.

    oh shadow thats the most desperate troll i ever read ouch congratulations im actually vicariously embarresed
  • shadow20 - November 14, 2008 4:37 a.m.

    first one to say first
  • wiisixty - January 30, 2009 2:12 a.m.

    You barely talked about the gameplay! is it solid?

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