The Conduit • Page 2

Drudge and jury.

Aside from aiming, motion controls are kept to a minimum, with only a scattering of nicely-judged implementations: melee attacking is handled effectively with a swift jab of the remote, and throwing grenades is even better, with targeting using the same reticule as shooting, while lobbing is taken care of with a brisk jiggle of the nunchuk. It's a blessedly no-fuss system, which guarantees a high level of accuracy in the game's tighter confines, and ensures you'll never ignore the more explosive elements of your arsenal for fear of accidentally blowing your own legs off.

It's not all blasting, however: having cleared out an area, High Voltage will often throw a simple puzzle your way - the first one you'll come across is a basic locked-door affair with a spatial brainteaser based on rearranging a set of concentric circles - with added complexity coming through manipulation of the All-Seeing Eye (imagine a kind of Magic 8-Ball designed by deep-space freemasons), a handy gadget which can be used to reveal hidden text, invisible geometry, and, in later levels, booby traps.

The multiplayer game retains the fast pace and complex levels of the single-player campaign and revels in the bizarre potential of the weaponry. With a handful of different maps ranging from the labyrinthine halls and courtyards of the Pentagon to a shattered stretch of downtown, The Conduit supports up to 12 players and favours twitchiness over tactics, with most five-minute rounds ending with a body-count well into double figures. With thirteen modes, including a riff on Oddball using the All-Seeing Eye, alongside more familiar deathmatch strains, High Voltage is using a ranking system for match-making, and offers voice chat via Wii Speak, allowing you to co-ordinate tactics with your own side in team games, or hear the six nearest players in free-for-alls.

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High Voltage isn't shy to point out that there's a lot more riding on its game than the fate of Washington DC, with publishers eyeing its sales figures as an indication of whether the Wii audience is interested in such a serious shooter.

It's a surprisingly generous package, but it may ultimately be High Voltage's commitment to customisation that carries the day. Not only can all the controls be entirely reconfigured - although presets are available - but players can also pull the various elements of the HUD around, editing the opacity or even opting to remove them entirely. Crucially, The Conduit allows you tweak almost all of the controls' sensitivity settings: in a particularly handy move, you can easily redraw the game's dead zone, changing how far you have to push the remote in any direction before the screen starts to move with it. It's a simple addition, but it spares The Conduit from the shakiness and over-sensitivity of many Wii titles, where every accidental tremble leaves you spinning around, lost, or staring at the ceiling while enemies pump bullets into your back.

And it's true: graphically, The Conduit looks like little else on the Wii, with shiny reflective surfaces, textures that stay sharp up close, and a range of unexpected lighting effects. It may be a magic trick rather than a miracle - bloom, depth-of-field and excellent reload animations help to draw your eyes away from some fairly simple geometry - yet, far from a criticism, such calculated manipulation suggests High Voltage has the design intelligence to match the technical cleverness of its proprietary Quantum3 engine, hiding you from the elements the console can't handle with some unexpected treats that it can.

While it remains to be seen whether the team's as good at stringing separate encounters into a coherent campaign as it is as papering over the occasional crack in the visuals, so far this is a smart, shapely shooter, with multiplayer that moves at a frantic clip, and a campaign that hits the ground running.

The Conduit is due out exclusively for Wii on 26th June.

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About the author

Christian Donlan

Christian Donlan

Features Editor

Christian Donlan is a features editor for Eurogamer. He is the author of The Unmapped Mind, published as The Inward Empire in the US.

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