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Was The Conduit Treated Harshly Just Because It Was A Wii Game?


The Conduit on Wii was given a raw deal upon its original release. A sci-fi first person shooter, the game was criticised as generic and unattractive by many reviewers, getting plenty of average review scores, a lot of negative scores and just one or two half decent scores. Strangely, IGN was the one site to see sense with the game. You don’t see that very often.

Let’s take a closer look at that criticism. Generic? Well, there have only been a handful of FPS shooters released for Wii, with a few Call of Duty titles, a Medal of Honor, Red Steel and a couple of Metroid games being the only ones that really spring to mind. Generic sci-fi FPS? There have been even fewer sci-fi FPS games on Wii, with only Metroid and The Conduit itself fitting the description, and as Metroid is more of a first person adventure game, the two Conduit games find themselves almost alone on the platform.

The developer, High Voltage, claimed that the game would be as good-looking as a PS3 or Xbox 360 game, played in SD. Is that true? The answer is difficult, but I would say that it looks as good as most next-gen games played in SD. Maybe not the elite, super gorgeous games such as Gears of War, but it does hold its own when compared with most games on the platform.

Bullshit! I hear you cry, but please ignore those ‘comparison’ shots of 360 and PS3 games in standard definition, and simply go to your Xbox or PS3, change to 480p or 576i and play a game. Truly ugly isn’t it? Completely unoptimised for SD, even games such as Motorstorm look awful. Now, compare the mess on your TV with a few screenshots of The Conduit on Wii, and you will see that it really does look rather good in comparison.

The original. Not Earth-shattering but a decent game.

The original. Not Earth-shattering but a decent game.

Graphics aside, it had superb, spot on controls and an outstanding feel. In terms of raw gameplay this felt as good, if not better, than almost any other FPS game, on any platform. Shots that would prove troublesome with normal dual stick controls were a breeze with The Conduit. When you are easily pulling off pistol headshots that would usually require a sniper rifle, without breaking into a sweat, or even breaking stride, you know this is as natural feeling as it gets. The controls were also remarkably customisable, with the ability to map every single possible action in the game to any button or gesture there is, with even a PC-style drag and drop HUD.

The online multiplayer was excellent, not by Xbox and PS3 standards, although that is kind of the whole point of this article, but better than pretty much anything else on Wii, and it even had voice chat using the otherwise-pointless Wii Speak peripheral.

It wasn’t perfect. Not at all. The story was predictable, the voice acting forgettable and many of the scenarios insipid with one too many average levels, yet that hasn’t stopped other games getting brilliant reviews for similar crimes.

Maybe this is all conjecture, after all how can we possibly judge if it was harshly treated? How can we know if the Wii-hating games press was prejudiced against it? Well, there is a way of finding out, as the game has recently been given a re-release on Android, a platform riddled with similar games, where the press couldn’t give two hoots about where it came from, only how good it actually is.

So, The Conduit, accused of being a generic bore fest, gets released on a platform with dozens and dozens of similar sci-fi FPS games and crucially, without the awesome Wii controls? It must have been panned. Well, Slashgear loved it. So did Android Central. Android Shock called it ‘awesome’. So did Dotmmo. The crazy thing is, even Kotaku admitted they now love the game, having panned the original.

The new version, with added shiny

The new version, with added shiny

Now, obviously those are not the only reviews out there, but the game has been given a far more positive reception, despite the touch screen controls, and despite there being no multiplayer. The only big addition has been HD graphics.

So, what are we to take from this? Well, we have a mainstream games press that doesn’t comprehend that some people will only own and play one console for long stretches of time and that comparing games from other platforms holds no value to those players; that is only too pleased to shoot down a worthy effort, simply because it is on a platform that commits ‘sins’, such as being sub-HD, having a focus on motion controls and being casual-oriented, sins that have no meaning or relevance to players who have decided to buy that console, and also that you really can’t trust many review sites anymore. Except us, naturally.

The Conduit should have been reviewed for what it was, not panned for not being as good-looking as games on other platforms, or having a lack of standard controls like on other platforms or criticised for being considered generic in its theming when it is the only game of its kind on Wii.

Like many other attempts at hardcore games on Wii, this was dismissed out of hand by the mainstream videogame press, the same press who also dismissed the Wii as a casual console, helping to convince already nervous publishers not to bother with anything that didn’t have the words ‘party’ emblazoned on the front of the box.

I wonder, if High Voltage had not released it on Wii, but given the game a HD sheen and launched it alongside PS Move, would it have been given a fairer hearing? The recent reviews of the Android version certainly seem to point to the fact that it would have.

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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.

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