First Impressions: The Conduit Multiplayer Madness

Tom ventures to Sega’s London HQ to play the game that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

To say that The Conduit is eagerly anticipated would be a serious understatement – this is potentially the title that could be the next best thing since sliced Goldeneye. Imagine then the excitement I felt at the opportunity to visit Sega’s London offices to not only give the Conduit’s multiplayer mode a spin but also interview both the CEO and CCO from High Voltage Software, Kerry Ganofsky and Eric Nofsinger.

After navigating my way to Sega HQ (a journey that entailed getting lost several times) I was introduced to Kerry, who was taking the rest of the guests through their paces in some frantic multiplayer action. Not wanting to stop for food, I jumped straight into the action in an RPG-ridden death-match, and was blown away – and I don’t just mean by the rocket-propelled grenades! Straight away I realised just how intuitive the Conduit is; after literally 5 minutes of tutelage from Kerry I had the controls nailed. Granted, I died more often than not in the first few matches, but the more I played the game, the more engrossed I became in the whole experience – I nearly even won a match!

We’ve all seen how much of a tough business it has been to create a ‘true’ FPS on the Wii that works well – Red Steel is the obvious example – so it really puts in perspective the feat that High Voltage Software have achieved. I’ll raise my hands up and say that I am not the most adept at FPSs – I enjoy them, but can never really compete on an even playing level with others; analogue sticks and I do not get on well. But playing the Conduit didn’t feel like any other FPS out there: it felt natural. From shaking the nunchuk to throw a grenade, using down on the D-pad to zoom in on an enemy, and even simple things like pointing the remote to turn around or using A to jump, everything came together exactly how you would want it to. Moreover, the controls are totally customisable to the point where you can create whatever setup you want. It’s a truly unparalleled experience. Visually too, the game shows us what the Wii is capable of with its built-from-scratch engine.

Going back to the multiplayer action in the community event itself, I was pitted up against staff from other gaming websites in some fast-paced death-matches. Eight of us were playing over the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection where everything was working seamlessly despite playing a non-final build of the game. After each match we were returned to the lobby where players can vote for the type of game, what weapons will be available, and which map the match will be held on. The range of choice is simply immense, and the different game modes rich and diverse. I didn’t get a chance to sample every aspect of the multiplayer, but everything I tried was truly engaging. There were enough matches to confidently say that this looks to be a truly magnificent multiplayer title – and then there’s the single player mode, which we’ve yet to play but looks incredibly promising.

Out of the multiplayer games played, my favourite would have to be the Bounty Hunter mode where each player has a ‘bounty’ to collect on someone else. The objective is simple: you must kill your bounty, but no one else – doing so will result in a deduction of points. This means you can be hunting someone down, while they are hunting someone else, but at the same time another person will be on your tail, and if the hunted kills the hunter then they will lose points – pure genius! We also played ASE (All-Seeing Eye) football, which is a mode where players duke it out to grab the ASE and attempt to hold on to it for the longest. While holding the ASE, you can only use melee attacks and grenades, not to mention your movement also becomes a lot slower, which makes for some truly competitive carnage. Of course, there are your standard death-matches and team death-matches in the mix, so there really is something for everyone here, and potentially enough content to keep players occupied for a long time.

After playing the game, I had the chance to interview Kerry and Eric and put across some of the questions that we’ve had regarding the development of the Conduit (expect the full interview to go live soon). What came across strongly in the interview was that the Conduit truly is a game designed by people who have a passion to deliver something the fans want; it has evolved and taken shape based upon feedback and criticism from gamers. Also made apparent was that the Conduit is not just a shooter with sublime controls, but it’s a game that has the balance of gameplay modes, level design and accessibility that helps to distinguish great games from the crowd.

And, as if my day wasn’t exciting enough, I got to grips with a copy of the latest Virtua Tennis title for the Wii, Virtua Tennis 2009. From the few matches I got to play, it’s obvious that this is going to be an exceptional tennis game. The simplistic swinging that Wii Sports gave us has been thrown out of the window, and the one-for-one mapping Motion Plus provides is shaping the game up to be a grand-slam success. We’ll have more news on this title in the coming weeks.

All in all, my afternoon at Sega was a great experience, and it was fantastic to get some hands-on experience with what looks to be the game to revolutionise the FPS genre with its intuitive controls and accessibility to both seasoned and new gamers alike. It’s still a little early to pass judgement but, from my hands-on impressions, the Conduit is looking very promising.

We’d like to say a big thank you to Sega for their hospitality and to Kerry and Eric from High Voltage Software for taking time to answer our questions. Finally, remember to stay tuned for the full interview with Kerry and Eric, and be sure to check us for future Conduit-related news!

[via flickr.com]