Monday, October 26, 2009

Review: The Conduit (Wii)

"Dear God, how many levels are left?" what I kept asking myself after about the first level of the game. This will be a brief review. I didn't like the game. I will admit I had very high expectations for the game based on what I saw and heard up to its release. I thought it could be a great game, or at least a good one. It's neither. I wouldn't even say it's a mediocre game. It's a bad game. A very bad game. Not the worst, but bad.

Quick Facts:

Platform: Wii
Genre: First Person Shooter (FPS)
Developer: High Voltage Software
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: June 23, 2009 (US)
Rating: T

I will give a little credit to the developers for at least trying to bring a "real" FPS to the Wii. The idea is good. The execution is just terrible. The only quality that gives this game a little redemption is the fully customizable controls and HUD, and just the sheer number of game options. More games should take a lesson from the Conduit in that department. In every other department though, the Conduit fails.

As I mentioned above, the amount of customization you have for your gameplay is unlike anything I've ever seen on a console shooter before. From mapping the controls to however you like them, to changing how you move and the very feel of the game, to placing items like your health bar and ammo count anywhere on the screen you like them, there were some really cool features they introduced. I will give credit where it is due for these things.

The rest of the game does not inspire happy feelings though. The graphics are sub-par even for the Wii, and I believe we were promised somewhere that the Conduit would have "the best graphics ever on the Wii" or something like that. The sound is below average and repetitive (even with Hercules). The story is uninteresting and incredibly cliche. From what I've heard, the ending is just as bad and obviously leaves it open for a sequel (God forbid). There aren't really even cutscenes (there may have been one at the end, I dont know, I'll admit I did not have the heart to finish the game. I got about 75% of the way through and finally gave up). The characters are bland and completely unexplored in the least by the "plot" of the game (if you can call it that). While the customization for the controls was good, even with all the options I could not find a setting where I really felt comfortable with the gameplay. The motion controls for the melee and grenade throwing really screw you up if you try to do them while aiming precisely (I know you can change those to other buttons, but even if you do, something still has to be assigned to the motion controls). The "puzzles" the game had to offer were insultingly simple and consist of rotating three circles to all match each other. Every time. Seriously.

In my experience, the multiplayer was pretty bad as well. It lagged a lot, and even just getting into a FFA deathmatch takes a five minute period to gather players- there's actually a timer that counts down from five minutes! That, coupled with the time it takes to get onto the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection, is just too long. I like to be able to hop into an online game pretty quickly if I want to, I dont want to wait seven minutes to get into a game that may last three or four minutes. Maybe part of that is Nintendo's fault and not High Voltage's (the developers of the game), but either way the Conduit is not going to be gaining any points for it.

All in all, do not buy this game. Maybe if you see it for $10 someday in a bargain bin it might be worth it, but there are tons of great shooters on other consoles. Even if you only own a Wii (which, if you like FPS's is unlikely), still do not buy this game. Go with the Metroid Prime Trilogy. I've heard High Voltage say they'd like to make a sequel. All I can say is that if they do, there is no way I would even consider buying it until after it comes out and I have read a lot of reviews. And they would all have to be really, really good reviews.

In Summary:

Pros: control/gameplay customization options.

Cons: graphics, sound, some gameplay elements, story, characters, voice acting (sorry Kevin Sorbo, I love all your other stuff though!), multiplayer, singleplayer, puzzles, motion controls... just about everything else.

FINAL SCORE: 2 out of 5.

Note: All reviews on this site are solely the subjective opinion of the author. If you disagree with my review please feel free to post in a polite manner and state your opinion. I welcome respectful discussion on my blog and would love to get feedback on my review and also read yours. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Greatest Games of the Decade: The Year 2000

We start our countdown with the first year of this decade: 2000. Unfortunately, because this was so long ago (I was only 13 at the time) I dont have a great memory of which games came out this year. But upon thinking back (and checking older websites) there are a few games that stand out from this year. But first, let me award my Game of the Year for 2000:

Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn

Platform: PC
Genre: RPG
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Black Isle Studios, Interplay

This game is actually my favorite game of all time, so it's not very surprising that it is also my favorite game that came out of the year 2000. The game is hard to explain to someone who's never played/heard of it (which is most of my friends), but it is the most expansive single player game I have ever played. It is also the best single player experience I have ever had. The way your decisions affect other characters and the world around you are way ahead of their time. Much newer games like Mass Effect and Fallout 3 (both of which I also love) are still introducing that to players (and BG2 was 9 years ago). The story is great, all the dialogue is excellent, and the characters that travel around with you (if you dont screw up your relationship with them) are hands down the best in any game I've ever played. They just have so much personality. The game world, while not technically an "open-world", is huge, well crafted, and a lot of fun to explore. There's so many things to do in this game in just one play-through, let alone the many play-throughs that it deserves. The graphics were good for its time, but you can imagine that 9 years later it's not that much to look at, but that was never the point of this game. If you like RPGs and are ever looking for something great to play on your computer, check this game out. Also, its expansion pack, The Throne of Bhaal, is an excellent addition and wraps the story up nicely. I think you can get both the game and the expansion for pretty cheap on Amazon now.

Honorable Mentions:

The Sims (PC)- This game was a lot of fun and started a whole chain of games that are still popular on the PC (The Sims 3 came out pretty recently and was met with great sales and good reviews). This game broke the chain of controlling a whole city and focused in on just one person or a few people, with lots of customization for both them and where they live.

Perfect Dark (N64)- While this game owes a lot to Goldeneye (N64) for its base, this game took everything Goldeneye did great and ran with it. The 4 player split-screen was great for its time, and this game featured both co-operative play and counter-operative play (something most games still dont offer). The weapons were crazy, the levels were good, and so was the story. Also, you could add bots to play against in this game, a nice feature which many games still lack. I put many hours into the killing of bots in deathmatch with my friends, and I didn't even own an N64. (Turtle sim was my favorite to kill.)

So that's all I have for the year 2000. If there are any glaring omissions (I'm sure there are many), or if you agree/disagree with my list, please feel free to comment. Like I said, it's hard for me to remember that far back, and I didn't play as many games then as I do now. Hope you enjoyed the first installment of the Greatest Games of the Decade, check back next week for the next installment: the year 2001!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Greatest Games of the Decade

SInce the end of this decade is quickly approaching, I have decided that between now and December I am going to count down my personal "Greatest Games of the Decade". I'll start with the year 2000, and from there go every year from 2000-2009. I will give out my award for that year's greatest game (in my opinion of course), and I'll also give some runner-ups/honorable mentions. For some years, I might even post my "Most Disappointing Game of the Year". Here are a few disclaimers:

-All of this is my opinion and thus subjective. You will obviously not agree with me for many of these, and that is fine. I welcome comments and feedback on my blog. Dont agree with my game of the year? Let me know. Did I leave some great games from that year out? Let me know! Feel free to list your game of the year for that year too.

- Along with what I just said, because I have not played every game ever created in the last 10 years, there are some great games which will undoubtedly get left off my list. If I have not played a game extensively, I do not feel adequate to rate it, and thus it will not appear on this list, so please keep that in mind. There are some great games I haven't played that I still know are great/influential games, so some of those may get honorable mentions, but if I have not extensively played a game I honestly cannot say it was my favorite game of the year. Please keep this in mind.

Anyway, hopefully this will be fun and insightful, and please feel free to post comments once the list gets started. Thanks!

COMING SOON: the year 2000!