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The Conduit Review


In The Conduit you play as Michael Ford, a secret service agent recruited to a shady government agency known as The Trust by a man called John Adams. After being recruited you are immediately sent to retrieve a device stolen by a 'terrorist' called Prometheus, the ASE. ASE, standing for All Seeing Eye. Soon after what appears to be the alien (named the Drudge) invasion of Washington D.C. starts and you are betrayed by Adams, but saved by Prometheus. The twist would've been less predictable if it weren't for the fact the John Adams' voice practically drips evil.

I've noticed many complaints about the story being generic, but those people are missing the point. You only see what's going on on the surface, most of the story is in the messages hidden along the walls of the levels which can only be found with the ASE. More or less 90% of the story is in these, and you can ignore or pursue the story at your leisure. The messages don't directly say "Hey you, John Adams is the ______ of the ______ and an ____ from the___. Also, he really is the ___________ of the _________.", they say something along the lines of "MMXII", "Humans should fear the world they call Eris", "The sacrilege of Bayankara-Ula will not be forgotten!", etc.

The developer put together half a dozen mythologies and numerous conspiracy theories into one large, coherent background story/conspiracy (There's also evidence of the Freemasons being enemies of the Illuminati, which somewhat explains the famous ending of Conduit 2, which went from serious aliens and conspiracies into an intentional B-Movie) Finding these messages was one of the few good uses they got out of the ASE (you can also find Trust data disks, which unlock concept art every few you find).

The ASE is held in place of a gun and works like a flashlight, showing a small beam of light that will reveal hidden things on the walls, and it can be pointed at something to scan it. It is for the most part used as a key, so instead of pushing a button you waste several seconds waiting for it to scan whatever needs to be scanned. There are also the irritating Ghost Mines, semi-invisible mines that OHK you on contact. You need to scan them from a safe distance, but the only purpose they seem to serve is making you die by enemy gun fire because you were trying to detonate them, dying because you were trying to avoid enemy gun fire, or just being a nuisance in general.

They did find another good use for it though, once or twice in most levels you will encounter optional puzzles that allow you to get a super weapon and help give the game some variety, which it lacks. When combined with the infinite ammo cheat unlocked upon killing 1000 enemies of any type, you can just walk over everything once you get one. I'd like to point out the problems aren't very severe, as I'd be shocked if I spent over 10 minutes scanning stuff with the ASE over my last play through. Nonetheless, it's a wasted idea.

The enemy variety in The Conduit is as follows. Drudge Drones, human puppets, and Trust soldiers, as well as slightly altered variations of the latter make up the enemies rank and file, but they're backed up by several kinds of enemies such as four unique kinds of 'mites'. Therm Mites, which kamikaze roll towards you, Tear Mites, which will run at you and attack you with their claws, Para Mites, small, flying nuisances who are an explosive weapon users nightmare, and the Med Mites, which are armed with a powerful Warp Pistol, have very low health, but can heal their fellow Drudge and stay in the back. There's also the hard to hit Skimmers, who fly and are armed with my favorite weapon, the Shrieker. In the way of large enemies they have Scarabs and Invaders, the former being more common and the latter being a are very rare enemy you encounter four times in the game.

The enemy AI is quite bad, they'll usually disregard cover and in the first few missions blow up their allies in the crowded corridors of an airport and Bunker 13 with grenades frequently. If you hide behind cover they will usually flank you slowly and throw grenades occasionally, and they always shoot at you, so the AI is at least functional. 

After the end of the third mission you gain a suit of Trust Armor that slowly regenerates your health, emphasis on slowly. While you can't rely on it to heal you during a two second duck behind a wall, it will patch you up between fire fights well enough. Mid battle you'll have to hope you stumble into a health pack. Why, you ask, can you not run away like a scared little girl and wait for your health to slowly regenerate? The game forces you to attack. Something many don't like but I loved about the game is that enemies infinitely spawn out of portals called Conduits. This means playing this like most shooters and picking enemies off from the comparative safety of a wall is sure to fail, because they'll keep coming at you. Staying still at some points in the game is nothing short of a death sentence. You need to push forward in the face of the enemy and do your best to destroy the Conduits as fast as you can, before they flood you with reinforcements. It's fast paced, fairly difficult, and unlike many modern shooters which are an endless procession of chest high walls and scripted events, actually fun.

The controls are easily the greatest strength of The Conduit, and although it's been surpassed by a handful of shooters since it's release they're still great. If you've played Metroid Prime 3, you'll be familiar with the lock on feature. It holds your camera in the direction of an enemy you've locked on to, which eliminates any turning while trying to target them. It's good to help ease players into the game and is almost necessary to do any good in the multiplayer, simply because everyone uses it. (However, there is a problem with this where it can be exploited to be used as a crude, but rather effective aimbot. Thankfully, that was fixed in the sequel).

They also give you an impressive array of customization options. You can mess with the vertical pointer sensitivity, horizontal pointer sensitivity, turning speed, dead zone size (how large an area you can point at without turning), and more on a scale of one to one hundred. They also give you multiple camera styles, an experienced player will do best with the human camera set up, which is faster and more responsive, a beginner and even Wii FPS veterans can do well with the Trust camera style, which is more stable, and there's even an option for a tank control camera style, the Drudge setting, which has camera control and movement placed upon the nunchuk's analog stick, so that the IR Pointer is used solely for aiming. Good for laughs, but nothing else. If a friend has The Conduit you can set it to this as a prank. In addition there's something I believe all games should have, custom button mapping (well, there's also HUD layout/opacity customization, but that's not really important. It is fun to make your HUD invisible though). 

You can set almost any action to almost any button. Unfortunately you can't map shoot to shake remote or shake nunchuk, but those are about the only limitations you have (Yes, that was sarcasm). I recommend, if you do nothing else, changing melee from shake Wii Remote to a button. The Wiimote shaking for melee attacks is a common complaint in reviews that could be easily be solved by the reviewer taking a whopping two minutes to change it. How it stacks up to traditional dual analog controls? If you just pick it up and play with the defaults for a short period of time you aren't suddenly going to refuse to play with DA controls. If you spend time customizing your controls to get that perfect setting it's better than DA by a fair margin. Also, try mapping shoot to A. I tried this once and my ability to fire fast was improved, but I didn't want to take the time to relearn how to play, as I can already do well enough. 

If the controls are The Conduits greatest strength, the guns are second.  Several of your weapons are standard shooter fare, like the shotgun, three round burst assault rifle, and the pistol, but they are a minority against guns like the Warp Pistol, an alien gun that fires shots that bounce off walls, the Deatomizer Mk4, the 'bolo gun', which fires two 'bolo's' of explosive energy connected by ropes of energy. The first ball in either bolo to hit something acts as an anchor, letting you hit enemies around cover. There's also the assault rifle/sniper rifle hybrid, the Strike Rifle. It has a large clip, a scope, and a high rate of fire, and is capable of charging shots which do three times the damage of a normal shot, as well as traveling instantly. They can one hit kill to the head with this or bring a target to 50% health with a body shot. That's not to say the less creative, standard weapons are less powerful. They are just as deadly in the right hands, if not more. Aside from the Hive Cannon that is, which is outclassed at every range by every weapon.  There are some balance issues, but nothing too notable aside from the aforementioned severely underpowered

Graphically, it's certainly one of the Wii's best looking games, but it's a bit uneven. The guns, character models, and lasers of death flying around you all look good, but the environments are rather low res and look ripped out of a PS2 game at some points. It doesn't help that it could use a lot of work in the art department, all you see is different shades of grey and brown. More importantly, the framerate stays at a solid 30 FPS and very rarely drops. I remember three framerate drops in all my time playing the game. In the way of replay value, the campaign has five difficulty settings, a high number of hidden collectables, seven unlockable concept art galleries, a lot of achievements, and several cheats. 

The level design is a weak point, it wouldn't be unfair to call The Conduit a corridor shooter. It's got a few large rooms here and there, but most of the game is spent in small, very linear areas. There's also a lack of any real art direction and enough brown to make a military shooter look colorful. There is a criminal amount of repeated areas, and you'll end up walking on the same staircase five times on the Pentagon level.

As for the multiplayer, the guns are well balanced as I mentioned earlier, the maps are all well designed at least (with the exception of Pentagon, which is too big and has an easily exploitable chokepoint), and Infirmary and Streets are great. It's an old school arena shooter, with everyone getting the same gun, no bloom/recoil, no iron sight aiming, high health (guns typically take 6+ shots to kill) and radar. Lag isn't very bad, although someone with a really bad connection will teleport around the map and be impossible to kill. They can't hurt you either and are few and far between. Enemies taking half a second to register their death is more common.

The games grenades are imbalanced, the flash grenades blind you for a ridiculous amount of time, frag grenades detonate on contact, radiation grenades are nearly useless. People can get six grenades from an ammo cache at any time with no limit, which leads to some people hiding out by a ammo cache and endlessly spamming grenades.

The Conduit is somewhat famous for it's number of hackers and glitchers. While they've gone down in numbers recently, It's still a common ocurrence to run into one automatic rocket launchers or people shooting you from outside the map. Finding people with godmode is uncommon, but it still happens.

Maps, specific modes (you can select deathmatch, team deathmatch, or team objective first, but what specific mode you play is based on the vote), and weapon sets are selected with the voting system. Everyone can vote for each one they want, then one is randomly chosen. The more votes the more likely it is to get picked. Another thing The Conduit is famous for is "Streets Explosives Marathon", which means everyone gets a rocket launcher, the game lasts 20 minutes, and it's on a very small map.


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