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SummaryIn The Dark Land Of Hyborea, One Man Had No Equal....
The GoodOriginally created by, American writer, Robert E. Howard. Conan, and his dark kingdom of Hyborea have been part of pop culture for a long time. The Cimmerian has survived the transition to graphic novels, Saturday morning cartoons, two feature films.(One of which is actually a decent fantasy film.-MM-) And of course videogames. Over the years there have been many great Conan games, and just as many bad ones.
Today, I’m here to review the barbarian’s latest videogame adventure. Simply titled, Conan. Will it be worthy to stand along side the rest of the Conan mythos? Or is it just another lame slash-n-hack, cash-in-attempt?(Cough…Beowulf…Cough…-MM-)
Conan, is based on the original stories. By Robert E. Howard. (Not an Austrian “actor” in sight!-MM) From the get go, the game is quite impressive in that regard. As the player will get travel all across Hyborea. And a great deal of the mythos makes and appearance or is referred to. (Die Stygian mage, die!-MM-)
The story is not great, but it gets the job done. More interesting is the way it’s told. The story is presented as if the adventures of Conan are long past, and it is just being told by story teller. (No it is not Homer-MM-)
In short, Conan, is exploring some ancient ruins, looking for treasures, maidens to rescue, all that good stuff. However, when the barbarian accidentally releases an imprisoned mage. He must travel Hyborea and destroy the sorcerer. Don’t worry it’s not because it’s the right thing to do. Conan only pursues the mage, as he is cursed, and must destroy him to break the curse. After all Conan was never a righteous hero.
As you might expect Conan, is and action game. Or a hack-n-slash, as they are colloquially known. Now before Conan fans commit hari-kari, hear me out. Many Conan games are stale tedious “slashers”. I find that this one is a lot more fresh than that. The action is fast and fun. And there are tons of moves to master in combat. But not all the action is sword play. There are also parts of the game that test Conan’s legendary agility. There are even armor attacks. More on that later.
Travel the world, meet new people, and kill them….
Let me backtrack a bit to the swordplay, that Conan, offers in huge quantities. By default Conan, is armed with a broadsword. And if that is not enough he acquire a great deal of other weapons. He can duel wield two broadswords, scimitars, axes. He can carry a sword and shield, and even giant pole arms, and swords. He can even kill foes with huge boulders, fists, and many more.
Ever conceivable weapon type has its own special moves. For instance duel-wielding two axes enables Conan, to perform a sick combo, in which he “disarms” his opponents. When armed with a sword and shield, Conan, can use the shield to decapitate his foes. If he happens to knock an enemy to the ground, he can either stomp them to death, or deliver a quick killing blow with his weapon. A successful parry, will enable an ultra cool kill. After you parry, the game will randomly display a button like “A” press it in a timely fashion and be treated to a bloody end for the poor bastard one the wrong end of Conan’s wrath.(It’s kind of like a QTE, with human entrails.-MM-)
Fighting extremely well will trigger, “The Song Of Death”. This is basically a berserk mode. As it increases Conan’s damage dealt, and also enables faster kills. Quite frankly it is off the fucking chain.
There are also many part that test Conan’s agility. Call them “platformers” if you must. Or Prince or Persia segments. They are a diversion from the killing fields, but show that Conan, is not just a dumb slow brute. Which many games seem to not realize.
Conan, can use “armor powers”. Every time he finds a piece of his armor he gains a new power. These range from a fiery rain, and attack that turns foes into stone.
Conan, The Role Player?
New moves are unlocked by earning points. And spending the points on new moves. The points are earned by playing the game, they better you play the more points you earn, represented by red “experience” orbs. A light RPG element. You can also earn these points by finding treasures, and rescuing, big breasted, topless maidens. (I shit you not.-MM-) And the maidens responses to being rescued are quite funny. Some gamers may see this as being a bit sexist. But in this game it fits as this sort of business is very much a part of the Conan mythos. And after all this is an adult game, not intended for children.
Conan is also upgradeable. Finding hidden runes, and using them enable him to upgrade his health, berserk, and power meters. And there are also lots of achievements to unlock.
Sights and sounds of Hyborea…
For a “next generation” game, the graphics in Conan, are quite good. Not as good as say Mass Effect, yet not as bad as GTA IV.(Which looks like a late Xbox game, not a new 360 game.-MM-)
And the places Conan travels look as they should. It is clear that most of the time went into to making the main characters, and bosses look great, as the regular scores of enemies look largely the same. As do the maidens, with only the hair color changing There are good variety of enemies, however.
The soundtrack is very well done. As the music fit’s the game very well. The sound effects are good, if a little repetitious.
The voice acting is solid as well. With Ron Pearlman as Conan. He does well in the role, and Conan, has some great, take-no-shit from anybody lines.
The BadCrom does not approve…
There are some are some bugs and glitches. Some are minor and hardly noticeable. Yet there are a few huge problems. A game stopping bug, that keeps the player from finishing the end of the game. It occurs in the second to last level. There is basically a invisible wall that keeps Conan, from being able to make a leap across a chasm.
They bug is rare, I hit the net and inquired about the bug when it happened on my game. Fortunately I had a back up save to use and I was able to finish the game. I fail to understand how a bug like this was not caught, alas, it can be worked around if you are careful and keep backup saves.
Sound effects can get very tedious at times. As Conan will sometimes repeat the same line again and again.
And like many games of this genre, the A.I. can often be cheap, and only land a hit because they have you surrounded. And some of the “platform” segments are to long and tedious.
Finally, the end boss is a huge pain in the ass. Not because it is a challenge, but because he is a cheap bastard. That sends seemingly endless hordes at you. I don’t mind a challenge, but this is ludicrous.