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01 Jul 2009

THE FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER (FPS) is arguably the most saturated gaming genre of recent years, and it    generally takes something pretty special to breathe new life into such a title. The Conduit is not the first FPS for  the Wii to use its chosen control scheme – a further evolution for the genre pioneered by the likes of   Metroid Prime 3: Corruption – but it continues Nintendo’s tradition of reminding us what an innovative set-up   can do for the genre on home consoles.

The story is typical sci-fi fare: Washington DC is under attack by an alien race called The Drudge, and as  Agent Michael Ford, you’re sent to infiltrate the city to investigate the alien menace.

Now, back to the aforementioned control scheme: along with analogue-stick movement and Wiimote aiming,  the player can lob grenades by moving the Nunchuk in a lobbing motion. Similarly, you conduct melée attacks  by thrusting the Wiimote. Like many Wii titles, the controls are difficult at first but soon become second nature and a further way of immersing yourself in the fi rstperson experience. One thing I disliked, though, was that  certain actions (such as cycling through weapons and reloading) required a bit of a stretch to the D-pad and,  subsequently, a readjustment of the hand on the Wiimote. Doing this would often inadvertently adjust the fi eld  of vision, disorientating the player. This could potentially be remedied with the game’s fairly comprehensive customisation options, but it would always be a trade-off as to which functions to assign to that hard-to-reach  D-pad. Perhaps it was down to my unfamiliarity with the Wiimote, however...

And this leads me to an admission: I actually got a slight case of motion sickness after playing The Conduit,  perhaps owing to the fact that I’d never played a motion-sensitive FPS before. I actually felt ill for a short  while afterwards, but I’m sure it’s down to the fact that I’m fairly new to the Wii. And the more I got used to  the control scheme, the more intuitive the gameplay and the more rewarding the experience.

The player can also make use of a multi-purpose tool called the All-Seeing Eye (ASE), an alien technology that  unlocks certain doors, disarms mines and provides a “glowing trail” (à la Fable II) should the player get  lost. It’s a clever interface that simplifies many convoluted commands in other shooters.

The Conduit is currently being touted as the most customisable FPS out there. For instance, any of the sections  of the Heads-Up Display (HUD) can be repositioned and dragged around to any part of the screen that player  desires. You can even adjust the visibility of each section, making them suffi ciently opaque so that you can still  see your health bar without obscuring your view of the action. All of this – along with adjusting your  controller sensitivity – can be done on the fly.

Visually, The Conduit could almost hold its own on the likes of the PS3 and Xbox 360, making it particularly  impressive for a Wii title given the system’s graphical limitations. It has a level of detail and polish above and  beyond your typical Wii title, although it does still bear the tell-tale textural restraints. Although it can’t  compete with the HD visual goodness of FPS titles on the PS3 or Xbox 360, The Conduit has a damn good bat at it.

The Conduit does seem to borrow aesthetic and  gameplay elements from a good deal of popular FPS titles,  however, and seasoned shooters will have fun identifying and style checking in what is somewhat of a genre  pastiche without being a total rip-off.

And with some intense action, clever gameplay and online multiplayer support for up to 12 players, The  Conduit could be just the ticket to keep hardcore Wii gamers occupied and to drive an online community for the Wii.

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