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Combat is punchy with human weapons and flimsier with the alien tech. Good old-fashioned lead takes men down like men – a puff of red and a weighty fall. The Conduit easily trumps Medal of Honor’s weightless origami Nazis. Alien guns, on the other hand, reek of My Big Book of Sci-Fi Cliche: they have neon bits and look as if they were built out of meat. They’re all oozy and organic, and we don’t know whether to shoot them or try to kill them. And they shoot energy projectiles – the poor man’s bullet.
High Voltage certainly wants comfortable combat: remote calibration is so technical that it makes the Large Hadron Collider look like the Play-Doh Fun Factory. Dead zones (denoting where aiming becomes screen movement) and pointer calibration we’ve seen before, but the multitude of variables that dictate sensitivity are a sight to behold. And in a great move, all the calibration is made in real-time; no menu hassling here, just a tweak and instant effect.
We also quite like the All Seeing Eye (ASE), a device with a similar purpose to Samus’ visors. The orb projects a symbol (the pyramid with an eye motif that appears on the one dollar bill, and amongst conspiracy theorists as the symbol for the Illuminati), and will reveal hidden ciphers etched in walls and uncloak otherwise invisible ‘ghost mines’. So, Samus’ X-ray visor, then? Yes, but it makes nice whirring noises and is pretty and shiny, so we’ll let it slide. A few more gadgets like the ASE could work wonders.
We may seem a bit down on The Conduit, but only because the image built up by other press is a disappointingly false one. The Conduit does have moments of serious goodness – a rare blast of adult on Wii, nice chunky pistol play, grenades that explode on contact with enemies – but this is no reason to forgive level design that would make Doom 64 snicker. Of course, this is easy to change and – as we mentioned – we’ve only played one level. But if The Conduit is going to fill the boots some people have made for it, it needs to find its feet first.
Nov 13, 2008