The Nintendo Wii may be a family-friendly console, but that doesn't mean that sci-fi first-person shooters can't make their mark on the system. Shooters fans look to the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 for their gaming fix, but High Voltage's The Conduit is shaping up to be a solid competitor in that genre, with great visuals, as well as the appeal of using the Wii Remote to move your target reticle rather than managing two analog sticks. We went by the Nintendo booth at the Penny Arcade Expo 2008 to get some hands-on time with the upcoming shooter.
The story of The Conduit is set in the near future where you play as a secret service agent working for an agency called "The Trust," similar to a Men in Black-type of organization. The group deals with problems that the general public is better off not knowing about; however, an alien invasion is hard to ignore, so you've been tasked to deal with the problem. In the demo area that we went through, we had a chance to see various misshapen aliens, some walking on two legs and some flying around like insects. There were also portals that these aliens would come out of, but that was taken care of with a grenade or a lot of ammo.
The game is still in pre-alpha, but the controls felt a lot like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. In The Conduit, your controls are fully customizable. You are able to adjust cursor sensitivity, turning speed, and the dead zone, as well as change the mapping of all the buttons on the Wii Remote. In the final version, the developers would like to have the ability for players to completely remap the heads-up display, as well as drag and drop HUD elements. This will allow players to set up their display exactly the way they want it.
The single-player game will have nine missions that will last about 10 hours if you were to just run through the game. There are hidden enemies, items, and story points to discover if you take the time to explore. An item called the All Seeing Eye allows players to reveal traps and mines. It is also highly useful when faced with some of the puzzle-solving elements of the game. Instead of cutscenes, the story unfolds through newscasts or radio broadcasts, so as you progress through the game, you'll collect pieces of information to try to get the bigger picture. You use alien weapons as well; we played around with a piece of alien machinery that required us to load glowing plasma balls. A de-atomizer was described to us as an alien weapon that has a normal single-shot firing mode, but when you use the B button for the charge attack, the target reticle splits in two and will fire two energy bolts. When the first bolt hits the target, it acts as an anchoring point so that the secondary bolt will wrap around the target (like a bolo), connect with the first bolt, and explode. Using the Wii Remote and specific weapons, you can shoot around corners by twisting the remote to get people that are hiding out of sight. Some weapons can also be guided using the cursor like a missile. High Voltage does plan to support Wii Motion Plus add-on, so we will have to see later how that will work.
There are standard multiplayer modes that are available to play online, which include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag. LAN play is something that High Voltage is looking into and may be available when the game launches. There will also be support for Wii Speak.
Visually, The Conduit looks great on the Wii because of the detail in the aliens, your weapons, and your environment. The build that we saw was still early, so there is still work to be done with lighting and textures. This alien invasion is set for March 2009, so check back soon for more coverage on The Conduit.