The Nintendo Wii suffered throughout its life from a lack of good games. The Conduit aimed to bring a solid first-person shooter experience to that console a few years back, and now the game has been ported to Android as a Tegra exclusive. Can a Wii game from 2008 offer the kind of experience we've come to expect on Android? Let's find out.
Gameplay And Controls
In this game you play as Secret Service agent Michael Ford, who is recruited by a shadowy government agency to take out a supposed terrorist group. What follows is a somewhat convoluted and unimportant plot. The Conduit HD is a conventional first-person shooter based around a government conspiracy and simultaneous alien invasion – you know, the usual. It doesn't really matter who you're fighting. All that matters is aliens are blowing stuff up, and you have to blow them up.
The Conduit is broken up into nine missions, each one with a few objectives you have to complete. The first thing that struck me about The Conduit is that the missions are very long – there is much more to accomplish in each stage than you'll find in most mobile shooters. This is what you get from porting a console game directly to Android. It's also fairly open. You can wander around and find secrets, weapons caches, and health packs before heading toward the mission objectives.
The developers seem to have gone to extremes to make The Conduit playable on a touchscreen device. However, that doesn't mean it's a success. The default controls in The Conduit are almost completely automated. You have the usual dual thumbstick set up for walking and aiming, but aggressive auto-aim nudges your crosshairs in the right direction. When your gun is pointed at an enemy, the game also fires for you. Reloading? Yep, The Conduit handles that whenever you stand still. Really, I don't know why I'm bothering when the game can apparently play itself.
You can shut off the automation in the settings, but the game becomes increasingly clunky the more you take on yourself. I think losing the auto-fire makes things more engaging, but the aim control isn't quite sensitive enough to justify turning off auto-aim. It's a balancing act.
In addition to all the shooting, The Conduit includes an unusual scavenger hunt aspect. You have an all-purpose scanner/computer hacker/bomb disarmer device called the ASE at your disposal. Some doors, for example, can only be opened when you've scanned nearby walls with the ASE to find and disable the alien locks. It can also track various energy signatures and lead you around the level. Basically, this thing is a Tricorder. It can make for a nice break from the alien slaughter.
With some tweaking, The Conduit has enjoyable (but not market-leading) gameplay. The level design is better than most FPS games on Android, but just being a console port doesn't mean it's magically better than games designed for touchscreens.
Graphics And Sound
This is an Nvidia Tegra-optimized title, and that should mean top notch graphics, right? Well, it looks good, but not amazing. As I said above, the levels are larger than most mobile games, so I can imagine resources are limited. The textures are fine from a distance, but get somewhat muddy up close. It makes everything look a little flat. Detail on the weapons is quite good, though.
The thing I find disappointing about the graphics is the amount of aliasing going on everywhere (checkout the blown up screens and you'll see it). The Conduit HD just ends up looking messy in a lot of places because nothing is completely crisp. The jaggies are even more noticeable on distant objects. The lighting effects are, however, actually good. Tegra support seems to be working for The Conduit here. The portals (or conduits, if you will) scattered throughout the game look really neat, and explosions are vibrant and bright.
The Conduit allows you to choose the level of detail, so I should note that all these observations are being made with the game set to "High." By default, this title will dynamically adjust the quality to ensure smooth frame rates. It does still seem to play smoothly with this option disabled, though.
Cost And Conclusion
The Conduit HD is free to play for the first two levels, then it's $4.99 for the remaining seven levels. In addition to unlocking all the levels through an in-app purchase, this game has a store for "power-ups." What it's really selling are cheat codes – invincibility, all weapons, one-hit kills, and so on. I'm not crazy about a game up-selling me cheat codes.
Overall, the gameplay is good in a generic sort of way. There's nothing amazing going on here, and the automated everything makes the game feel pointless. At the very least you have to change the controls dramatically and deal with some chunkiness. This was a $50 console purchase a few years ago, but there are plenty of deals on games that have passed their prime. I don't think The Conduit is worth the asking price unless you really love FPS games.