E3: The Wii first-person shooter The Conduit is a real blast

SCI FI Wire got to check out The Conduit, the futuristic first-person-shooter game for the Wii, at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles on Thursday, and it's a blast. High Voltage Software developed the game, and Sega is publishing.

Here's the deal. It's the near future, and Washington has been hit by an alien invasion. You're Secret Service agent Michael Ford, a new recruit who has been inducted into a Men in Black sort of organization called "The Trust." You're not very sure of their motives, but they are apparently there to save the world. As you play the game, you go deeper and deeper into the conspiracy and try to reveal the truth. And, of course, kick some alien butt.

A representative for High Voltage told us that the company saw huge potential in doing a first-person shooter for the Wii and that it was analogous with the control scheme: Creators didn't think that you could get this kind of experience in a shooting game with an analogue stick on a traditional controller. The idea is that with 50 million Wiis out there, someone was going to want a FPS that actually worked.

The demo we were shown came later in the game. Aliens are running rampant around Georgetown, and you have to take them out while finding clues to the power behind what has become a full-blown alien invasion.

You get a bunch of cool weapons. Eighteen, in fact. We started with a normal gun and some sticky grenades, but ended up with a super-cool unlockable shoulder cannon with glowing red ammo balls. We were told that the weapons came in three types: human-created guns, which are pretty standard; alien weapons that are biological; and the Trust gear, which includes lasers and all sorts of future tech.

High Voltage really pushed the tech in this game, and it looks better than almost any Wii game I've seen. There's dynamic lighting and projected shadows, and the weapon control is easier than I expected. As I was playing, actor Mark Sheppard (Battlestar Galactica, Warehouse 13) showed up behind me and gave me tips on playing the game. Sheppard and his dad, actor William Morgan Sheppard, both do voices for the game, and he was an excellent cheerleader. He said that if you give this game 15 minutes, you'll have it down.

The settings I used while playing had me punching with the Wiimote, pressing the A button for melee attacks and throwing the grenades with the nunchuck, but all—and I mean all—the actions are customizable. And the HUD can be arranged any way you like.

Another unique feature is a device called an ASE—"all-seeing eye"—a floating ball that allows you to see secret doors, places to hit, the direction you need to go. It also translates alien language.

We used it in the demo to find a hidden room with a picture of the Greek Titan Prometheus (who, we were told, acts as your guide throughout the game) and a biological alien weapon. It was revealed that The Conduit contains a bunch of popular conspiracy theories and legends, like President Kennedy's being assassinated by the CIA and Sasquatch's existing. There are lots of puzzles to solve, and the one we saw was the eye from the dollar bill on a wall with movable circles around it. When you find the right combination, you get in the door of a secret room that is held by "The Trust."

We were told that the developers didn't want to beat you over the head with the story and make it too complicated. If you just want to go around shooting things, the game allows that. But if you want to spend the time to find the hidden clues, there is a great story to follow and tons of details.

We saw a storefront with televisions in the window, broadcasting the local news. You can check it out to see how far the invasion has progressed. And there are five radio stations that give different opinions about what's really going on.

Finally, there are the "conduits," which are portals that spawn aliens. You need to destroy these to stop the attack. I didn't get to see the multiplayer mode, but you can have up to 12 players and plenty of multiple games. Sheppard told us that there are "13 modes of gameplay; you vote on three of the aspects before every game. You're voting on the level, the mode of gameplay and the weapons." I'm definitely looking forward to this one.

The Conduit will be released on June 23.

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