The Conduit Multiplayer Hands-On
The Conduit is one of the Wii's few first-person shooters, and we managed to score some time on its 12-player multiplayer mode.
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After only a single round of playing The Conduit's multiplayer mode, it's clear that it's been heavily influenced by the Nintendo 64 classic GoldenEye. This is no bad thing, but in terms of look and feel, Voltage's upcoming Wii first-person shooter feels very much like a spiritual successor to the Rare classic. Thankfully, the feature set is completely 2009, with 12-player online multiplayer, seven maps, unlockable player skins, and voice support using Nintendo's WiiSpeak peripheral. In fact, it could be said that The Conduit is the most feature-packed online game for the Wii so far. We went hands-on with the game at Sega's office in London, and had a chance to speak to developer High Voltage to find out more.
To get acquainted with the game and its controls, we jumped into a straight-up deathmatch. The game uses a similar control scheme to Metroid Prime 3: Corruption--another influence cited by the development team--with the Nunchuk's analog stick used for movement and the Wii Remote for aiming. That said, this setup is completely customisable, and though the default setup worked fine for us, the developers from High Voltage were keen for the assembled journalists to tinker as they saw fit. The same goes for the heads-up display; you can pare back the onscreen display to the bare minimum if you don't want the action diluted by information.
There are also plenty of game modes, maps, and weapon sets to play with, and even though we had a full afternoon with the game, we managed to only scratch the surface of what was available. The game modes consist of Quick Match, Marathon, Three Strikes, Last Man Standing, ASE Football, Bounty Hunter, and Random. Our favourite mode was ASE Football, in which each player has to capture a round, floating ball and then hold on to it for as long as possible. Bounty Hunter is also interesting, given that you lose points for shooting innocent people.
The map selection looks to be well balanced, with a good mix of open locales and tight corridor-based levels. A map called Infirmary puts you inside a deserted hospital with nowhere to hide. The weapon sets are also varied, split into the following categories: human, trust, drudge, near/far, close combat, long range, explosive, chargeable, and random. It's very easy to aim with the weapons in the game, and you can throw grenades by shaking the Nunchuk, whereas you make a melee attack by shaking the Wii Remote.
Playing the game with a mix of journalists, Sega employees, and the development team, we really enjoyed our local matches, and were particularly impressed with the lobby system. At the beginning of each game, each player gets to vote on the game type, map, and weapon set to be used in the game, and then the game automatically scrolls through all of the votes to pick a winner. Obviously, the more votes something receives, the more likely it is to come up, but this is just one of the examples in which the team is trying to bring a full multiplayer FPS experience to the Wii.
We didn't get to play online, but we're excited with the way that High Voltage described it. Regional and global games will offer experience points that will count toward your overall ranking, and you'll also be able to unlock new skins, such as scientists and drones, the more you play. WiiSpeak support means voice chat, but to stop things from getting too hectic, the game will relay the chatter only from those in close proximity to you in the game. In fact, High Voltage recommends that players with WiiSpeak use it in conjunction with headphones for an optimum experience.
We were really impressed with the way that The Conduit is shaping up, and on the day that we played it, that developers at High Voltage said that they'd submitted the final code to Nintendo. The game is due to be released on June 23 in the US and June 26 in Europe, so there's still some time to swap your Wii friend codes in preparation. Expect GameSpot's full verdict at the end of June.