Four Hardcore Wii Game Previews: A Look at The Conduit, MadWorld, Call of Duty 5 and Dead Rising

So we know Nintendo has the market cornered on Wii brain trainers, and walking trainers, and games about collecting bells. But what is there for us, the hardcore gamers? What about the people that dabble in Mario, but want nothing more than to ignore that bell business, kill that obnoxious Tom Nook and take his loot?

Last week I had a chance to preview Nintendo's upcoming Wii lineup at the company's fall media summit. And while the new DS and the handheld platform's strong lineup dominated the news, I was more interested in what Nintendo was showing off on the Wii. After all, my Wii has been dormant for months. I wanted to know whether I should expect four more months of the same, or some real change from Nintendo's platform. The first-party offerings weren't very inspiring. Animal Crossing: City Folk and Wii Music did little to convince me to start dusting off my Wiimotes. Tetris Party had some intriguing modes, but another Tetris game just isn't going to do it for me.

However, I did get a look at four games from various third-party developers that at least offered some action that didn't involve cooking simulation or Sudoku. So out of those few offerings, do we have anything to look forward to?

Looking like an animated ink-drawn comic, PlatinumGames' beat-em-up MadWorld is immediately striking. This game looks like something fresh--though the concept is anything but.

MadWorld is directly born out of Running Man, or in the video game realm, Smash TV. Your character is participating on a violent gameshow, facing down bad-guys and bosses in a progression of linear levels. In addition to regular on-foot action, players will also take to motorcycles for some racing-based combat. nope The action is as over-the-top as it gets. Enemies are impaled with traffic signs, cut in half at the waist by chainsaws, or thrown into burning trash cans and set alight. Advanced combat is mostly motion-based and context-sensitive--players will need to take stock of their environments to maximize the violence.

BOOM video 798 MadWorld is still a ways off--expected to hit in early 2009--but what I saw was encouraging. Not having gotten my hands on the game yet, my major question is whether the motion-based combat will click in a satisfying way.

The Conduit
High Voltage Software's first person shooter The Conduit was unveiled at E3, but this was my first time getting my hands on it. After playing through an extensive demo level, I came away rather bullish of the game's prospects.

Starved for a worthy FPS in a post-Prime world, The Conduit fulfills the first requirement by getting its control schemes right. Every command is re-mappable, right down to Wii motions. There are numerous sliders for sensitivity, and users can even adjust the "dead zone" box of pointer control to fine-tune the experience. A lock-on mechanic makes multi-enemy combat manageable. nope As far as gameplay, it's a standard sci-fi shooter. It feels good, but not surprisingly so. Outside of shooting soldiers, players will use a context-sensitive, all-purpose All Seeing Eye tool to hack computers and detect hidden aliens. Using the ASE was a hit-and-miss experience--sometimes it was an interesting puzzle-solving tool, other times I missed a hidden wall switch and chased my tail.

BOOM video 1002 Mutliplayer will include online multiplayer for up to 16 players. Modes include deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag--though the team may include an extra mode if they have the resources. Expect the game in early 2009.

_PAGE_BREAK_ Call of Duty: World at War
Having gotten my hands on a large part of the 360 version, I didn't spend very much time with the Wii version of World at War. It looked like the other version, but with more difficult controls and fuzzier graphics. nope While World at War smartly follows The Conduit in allowing for an endless amount of dead zone and sensitivity controls, it never did feel entirely natural shooting the Japanese with a Wiimote. Trying to snipe enemies from a distance without any type of lock-on was a pain. Similarly, spinning from side to side while spraying enemies with the flamethrower was unwieldy.

Outside of the controls, the major difference with the Wii version of the game is the lack of online co-op. In its place will be a Mario Galaxy-esque co-op mode, with a second player controlling a simple cursor to shoot at enemies from over the shoulder of the primary player.

Taking all of that into account, the PC or Xbox 360 versions of World at War should be your first stop. The Wii version will launch alongside the others on November 11.

Dead Rising: Chop Til You Drop
If you're looking for horror, this scary title fits the bill.

Imagine the original Dead Rising (360). Now take away the insane amount of zombies, and any non-linear freedom--in other words, take away the entire concept of the game. Now put a pixelation filter over the screen, and add controls with all the intuitiveness of a 1996 PlayStation FPS. nope Ignore all of the lapses in judgment that have lead to this sort of shabby port--I just want to know why I can't turn my character around in less than ten seconds. Right now, killing zombies in this game is a chore. It was modeled on the Resident Evil 4 engine, but I can't begin to describe how much more intuitive RE4 was than this game is currently.

The only shining moment of my demonstration was when the main character grabbed a mannequin--using its breasts as hand-holds--and a Capcom rep mentioned that she could imagine Japanese programmers giggling away.

BOOM video 781 Don't be a part of their sick joke. Stay away from this monstrous game. You've been warned: Chop Til You Drop approaches this winter.