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Is The Conduit the Wii's best shooter?

One of the bigger pushes for Nintendo's Wii console recently has been The Conduit, a first-person shooter from Sega. Three of CNET's gaming industry experts put the game to the test.

One of the bigger pushes for Nintendo's Wii console recently has been The Conduit, a sci-fi first-person shooter from Sega. Looking past the hype, we put it to the test--hoping to find out if the popular Wii is actually good for something other than casual, party, and kids' games.

As with the recent Ghostbusters debate, our CNET editors' gaming roundtable gives conflicting opinions below, and we naturally want to hear what you think in the handy comments section.

Jeff Bakalar:
We're really impressed at how customizable the game is. In addition to completely changing the controls around, you have the option to move around individual HUD (heads-up-display) items at your leisure, so you can build the presentation that's right for you.

Control-wise, the game performs very smoothly, just how you'd want a first-person-shooter on the Wii to play. It's refreshing to see a game like this built from the ground up specifically for the Wii--you'll notice little things like rack focusing and other camera tricks that aren't seen in most Wii games.

While The Conduit is among the best-looking games available for the Wii, the console simply cannot handle that kind of realistic graphics. For instance, enemies set far away look like nothing more than a bunch of jumbled dots until they get much closer.

Alien-invading first-person shooters aren't anything new for video games, but a fresh new title built specifically for the Wii is definitely a welcome change of pace. The Conduit is the best first-person-shooter available for the console and the online multiplayer modes add a solid amount of replay value.

Now playing: Watch this: Gaming preview: The Conduit
Scott Stein:
When I first played The Conduit, I was reminded of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. The first-person Wiimote-aided controls and perspective seemed similar, as well as some of the puzzle-solving. The experience is somewhat fun--in fact, it's baffling that there aren't more quasi-VR experiences on the Wii as opposed to goofy retro minigames--but it's not compelling enough to spend significant time or money on unless you're desperate for a shooter (read: you only own a Wii).

Plus, the aliens are downright uninspiring, feeling like they escaped from Midway's Area 51. It's nice to see that Sega's supporting Wii development of original content, with this, Madworld, and Let's Tap, but this just feels like something that hit the market too late. But again, to clarify: it's still the second-best first-person action game that the Wii's got.

Dan Ackerman:
Nintendo's Wii console seems custom made for first-person shooters, with a motion-sensing handheld controller that's more firearm-like than any analog-stick game pad. So, it's always been a mystery why no one has managed to perfect the formula yet. While it's probably the best attempt so far, Sega's The Conduit is certainly no paradigm shift in Wii first-person shooters.

Perhaps it's the Wii hardware itself. The new Motion Plusadd-on for the Wii remote seems to be an admission that the system's aiming was never quite right--but the Motion Plus is not compatible with this game. The system used for actually controlling the game--combining rotating and aiming by steering the Wiimote cursor around an onscreen "dead zone"--is essentially the same inelegant compromise as nearly every other Wii first-person game.

We liked the X-Files/Torchwood style conspiracy thriller vibe, although it's surprising the game uses so many cheap tricks, such as brain-dead bad guys jumping out from behind corners and blatantly repeated locations. The Conduit seems to be nobly aimed at creating more mature, serious games for the Wii, but in that case, why does the guy on the cover look like a reject from a late-'80s Lazer Tag commercial?