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NYCC 09: The Conduit revisited; hands on a 'new' game


The Conduit is a story of hype because it is a story of hope. Not the interactive story (that might be about hope, too), but the story of the game's development. We won't rehash the dramatic rise to relevance of High Voltage Software's labor of love, but we certainly thought about it as we played a section of the game at New York Comic Con this weekend. The Conduit has a publisher -- finally -- in Sega, but it is still cherished for its grass roots origin. Technically, this was very much the same game we previewed back in October, but we couldn't help but notice the change taking place as we blasted through an alien invasion inside Sega's Comic Con booth.

The Conduit has made it -- acquired by a major third-party publisher. Its chapter as indie orphan is over. Now, on the verge of release, it competes with any other title that reaches store shelves. We may want to hold onto the sentiment of victory (the little guy making it to the big show), but the game has changed. We must consider The Conduit from a different perspective. In fact, dual perspectives: How does The Conduit rate as a Wii game; and how does it rate as a contemporary first-person shooter?

Gallery: The Conduit | 42 Photos

The Conduit's merit as a Wii game is extraordinarily high. It radiates heart -- the effort of High Voltage -- putting to shame the soulless rubbish that is shoveled onto Wii weekly. This alone nearly demands that we, as supporters of "good" games, should purchase The Conduit. We would then find a game in our collections that far exceeds the paltry standards of the baseline Wii release; that beams with polished details. We repeat: "This looks really good for a Wii game," and it's a sophisticated, even gritty look; not the simple, colorful look of the beautifully rendered Super Mario Galaxy. Admittedly, it's impossible to gauge the content's depth at Comic Con, as most sounds (read: important story elements) are drowned out in a bustling convention hall -- not to mention, picking up a game mid-way through a mid-way level is generally confusing (and not recommended). Of course, the controls become an object to consider in this atmosphere -- in any atmosphere -- and here's where we begin to see the forming of dual perspectives.

As a Wii FPS, The Conduit's controls rank at the top, alongside Metroid Prime 3 and Medal of Honor Heroes 2, and perhaps, with more practice (and sensitivity tweaking!) it could even set the new benchmark -- and we can only imagine what happens when MotionPlus is introduced. Still, as a multi-console FPS player, it's jarring to go from gamepad to Wiimote and Nunchuk. I prefer a gamepad. I find it much more capable of handling the core mechanic: shooting. And I'm happy to sacrifice the peripheral "motions" for a single, context-sensitive button press. And, if you're like me (you can, of course, prefer the Wii option), then it's extremely difficult to be drawn to the other aspects of The Conduit because the premier Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 FPS games are simply running on more advanced technology. If, as I am suggesting, you drop the sentiment -- the admiration for an indie developer -- and view The Conduit objectively, you might see a distinctly ordinary game.

That's what I saw this weekend. And, though I may purchase The Conduit as a statement of support, I already doubt I would ever see the game through, from beginning to end.

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