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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews The Conduit.

Transcript Edit

No. Nonononononono. I can't do this, it's been too soon since Wii Sports Resort. I'm just gonna say a load of things like how you could hollow out the Wii and fill it with beetles and very few people would notice, and frankly it's getting boring even for me. I need something manly and hardcore, lots of small metal objects flying through the squishier of a monster's body parts. "But!" cried the Munchkins, "The Conduit is a hardcore FPS that's really good for a Wii game! It's got lots of positive reviews and its balls are gently bumping my chin even as I speak!"

The five words that jump out at me there are, "good for a Wii game". I'm reminded of when Sarah Palin was said to have "exceeded expectations" in the vice-presidential debates. That's only because the bar was set so fucking low it'd snag on a limbo dancer's clit piercing.

Well since we all know it's coming, let's just get it over with first: yes, The Conduit's gameplay is marred by the limitations of the Wii controller. There's the usual immersion-breaking spastic jerks for melee attacks and grenade lobbing, but veteran Wii owners' wrists are probably now all hardened into pure cartilage, so that won't matter so much. But the aiming. Oh, the aiming! Pointing at the screen to shoot is the standard Wii FPS model, but the only way to turn is to aim to the side, and since the Wiimote only works when it's pointed directly at the screen, you stop turning if you aim too far. Which is very unhelpful when a slime beast has lodged onto your air. There's a quick-turn button, but if the enemy's 90 degrees to your side then turning 180 degrees just puts you right back where you started, doesn't it?

And if you're not gonna let us look all the way up, pitting us against flying targets or ceiling-mounted enemy spawners is just cruel. Like holding a Mars bar out of the reach of a wheelchair-bound Alaskan retard. All of this could have been saved by the Wii Motion Plus of course, but it was not to be, because the relationship between Nintendo and third-party developers is equivocal to the relationship between James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal in the movie Secretary. (LOOK IT UP.)

I read in the gaming journals that The Conduit uses special technology that makes it look as good as games on the PS3 and Xbox. Then I waited a few minutes for the punchline, but apparently they were serious. To put it charitably, the game is fucking ugly! This isn't even because of the Wii - I've seen better-looking Wii games and even Gamecube games. This is more on the level of a PS2 that someone's trodden on. I can't remember the last time I saw a game depict a skyline by painting one on a wall and erecting it a few feet away from the window - that's shit I'd expect from a Tex Murphy game and Christ this is turning into a good review for obscure references isn't it? The levels are uninspired grindboxes; I swear one mission ran me through the same office and stairwell five times; and most of the weapons are overdesigned Fisher-Price toys that unsatisfyingly "pew-pew-pew" their way through legions of slavering cliches.

But graphics aren't as important as a good story well-told, right? The Conduit's story is unique, in that it's barely fucking there and, at the same time, virtually impenetrable. Aliens invade Washington and "YOU are the ONLY ONE who can STOP THEM" sums it up. And they're obviously here for the sight-seeing tour since most of the levels take place in well-known government buildings... but hold on, go back a bit. Why am I "the ONLY ONE who can STOP THEM"? They seem to be quite receptive to normal bullets in the squishy parts. Where are the armed forces? Come to think of it, where are the civilians? Modern-day Washington D.C. gets swapped out for the post-apocalypse over the course of about a day. None of this is explained. There's some interplanetary conspiracy between aliens and some secret government departments that are apparently running things, but that's honestly all I can be certain of. In place of cinematics we have pre-mission telephone conversations between the main character and his puppeteers before being dumped right into another infested tourist hotspot to kill a few dozen mutants arranged in single file. The scrolly text screens from Doom were better storytelling than this!

But who needs a story when the gameplay is what matters, right? The sole element The Conduit can claim as a unique gameplay mechanic is a glorified flashlight that reveals invisible locking mechanisms, essentially doing nothing but adding an extra phase to the "press button, open door" routine. Don't worry if you're not keen on scavenger hunts, though, because the presence of a nearby invisible thing is helpfully indicated by the soundtrack going "BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP" while you're still trying to clear the room of those fucking insidious scuttlefuck spawners - BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP! The moment you think you've cleared the room and put your weapon away to shut the fucking thing up, lo and behold! There was another monster spawner on the ceiling you couldn't see because you can't look up! You also can't move faster than a brisk stroll and you scream and lose health if you stand within six feet of a fire, leading me to conclude that your character was recruited from a home for the elderly.

It's fitting that its signature device is a sphere because The Conduit has appeared to cut so many corners that it metaphorically resembles one. Levels are stunted and repetitive, boss monsters are shamelessly copy-pasted to swell the enemy ranks, the music consists of nothing but obnoxious five-second loops, and of course it ends on a cliffhanger without the slightest promise of a sequel, which I'm putting at the top of a list of Game Design Deadly Sins. The most delicious irony is that I suspect a lot of these crusts were trimmed in order to accommodate the improved graphics technology I didn't even fucking notice. And to what end? So that a Wii game can be judged by the same standards as PS3 and Xbox games? Trust me, that's the very last thing the Wii needs. Low standards are the only thing that allow its few hardcore titles a free ride, but if that's what it wants, by the standards of current-day gaming The Conduit is a pile of sodden cereal boxes held together with string, and I would sooner recommend nailing your tongue to a subway train.

AddendaEdit

How about not playing Wii games for a few weeks: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

Yes, I am now comparing the Wii to a psychotic wolf-shooting Alaskan retard spawn point

Think Halo meets National Treasure meets a bucket of sick


ScreenshotsEdit

The Conduit 1

To put it charitably, the game is fucking ugly

The Conduit 2

They're obviously here for the sight-seeing tour

The Conduit 4

Game Design Deadly Sins

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart

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