The lack of interesting objectives creates a monotonous feeling, but questionable design decisions make the campaign even more grueling. Your buglike enemies quickly incubate and hatch from fertile eggs, and you must continually hunt down these replenishing wombs to stem the flow of angry aggressors. Although being forced to constantly track down well-hidden nests gives the game a tireless pace, it leads to a number of cheap deaths because you constantly find enemies sneaking up behind you, shooting you from above, or attacking you through paper-thin walls. Furthermore, these nests are often hidden in devious locations, forcing you to risk death to incinerate them. At certain points in the game, you will also encounter nearly invisible bombs that must be disarmed before they blow you to pieces. On their own, they're slightly annoying but hardly life threatening. But when you're forced to travel down a long corridor populated by these translucent explosives while trying to avoid snipers perched above and foot soldiers swarming on the ground, they just pour gas on the flames of frustration.
The Conduit's difficulty is all over the place. Thanks to the superb controls and powerful guns, you'll spend parts of the game vanquishing enemies with style. Entering a room filled with armed troopers and taking them out with grenades and potshots as you move in to and out of cover can be thrilling. But all too often, the game erects a roadblock that will artificially halt your progress. During a few occasions, you'll be swarmed by attackers as soon as you enter the room, but you'll have no cover to hide behind. Other times, enemies will target a door that's still closed, resulting in instant death as soon as you open it. These situations are almost impossible to pass your first time through because you will need to memorize where the threats are positioned before you have a chance of survival.
The multiplayer is as technically impressive as the single-player experience, but it lacks the excitement that could have made it something special. Twelve players can compete at one time, and though the game occasionally lags, it generally remains stable throughout matches. Although you can speak to your competitors using WiiSpeak, it only lets you converse with friends, which severely limits its usefulness. The seven maps are based on the single-player levels and suffer from many of the same problems as the campaign. They're all a series of corridors without much diversity, so deathmatch duels boil down to shooting your closest foe without any need to seek out an optimal position or plan a more advanced strategy. Although it can be fun to shoot your enemies, the tactically uninteresting landscapes create a feeling of repetition that hinders the long-term enjoyment of the modes. The capture the flag variants aren't much better because the linear levels don't allow for enough creativity to outsmart your opponents. The ability to rank up by earning experience points in battle is a nice touch, but the multiplayer ultimately lacks depth.
Searching for hidden keys along walls is not fun at all.
Technically, The Conduit is one of the finest looking games available for the Wii. Highly detailed enemies swarm the screen, tossing grenades and peppering you with fancy weaponry, and the game is able to run smoothly despite the chaos. Guns create a brief burst of light on walls as the bullets streak by and explosions illuminate the screen, leaving death in their wake. As fine as The Conduit performs technically, the lousy art makes it an eyesore at times. The levels blend together because they all have the same drab color scheme and no memorable landmarks. The enemies could have been ripped from any number of science fiction stories and are based on an unimaginative insect design that would be impossible to pick out of a lineup. It's a shame the art direction couldn't have matched the impressive technology because what could have been a visual showcase for the system is now just a model for wasted potential.
Wasted potential is the main theme for The Conduit because its technical prowess is overshadowed by misguided design decisions pasted onto a generic science fiction universe. The excellent control scheme is able to save this otherwise average adventure for a little while, but the many missteps of the campaign become suffocating before too long. The multiplayer, too, is entertaining for a few hours, but the seven maps are too simple and predictable to provide a consistently thrilling experience. The Conduit may provide a glimpse at the future of Wii shooters, but it's still largely mired in the well-worn past.