Posted by SadExchange
Released on: 10/23/2007
Developed by: Nihilistic
Published by: THQ

Great combat, good graphics and sound, and a decent storyline, Conan is a game you should run through at least once



From the books of Robert E. Howard to your living room televsion comes Conan for the Xbox 360. Releasing on October 23rd of 2007, players are given the chance to command one of the most barbaric men who has been apart of everything from movies to comic books. Conan brings hack and slash gameplay much like God of War into your very own Hyborian adventure, but is hack and slash gameplay good enough to justify a playthrough of this latest adventure game?

Like most titles in the adventure genre, the actual storyline isn't the most memorable component of the overall game and the same can be said with Conan. Although it's somewhat interesting through the beginning, it doesn't quite explain all the details and background information that you'd probably prefer when dealing with the Cimmerian Warrior. You'll begin the game with Conan in all of his glory with all of his armor and magical powers, which for some fans of Howard's, may seem somewhat odd, due to the fact that Conan is the type of warrior who dislikes the magical dark arts, but regardless, the story must go on right? Anyway, you'll start off as Conan searching for some valuable gem throughout some dark tombs, but as you're looking, you crush apart a statue that releases a dark sorcerer named Graven. Now, at the beginning, this may not seem like the most terrible thing, due on part to not actually knowing about Graven, but in the next few moments, you'll soon find yourself washed up on a beach with any of your armor and not knowing truly what happened. It's not the general cliche of warrior without a past, but somewhat along the same lines, but a good thing is, as you progress throughout the game, you'll slowly come to learn of the background of not only yourself in the Hyborian world, but also that of Graven and the story surrounding his stone prison before you unleashed him. As you adventure to recover your armor pieces, you'll come across raiders, dark magical beings, and creatures that would make normal men quell in fear, but along with enemies, you'll meet a Akanna, a warrior queen that would fit beautifully in with any Amazon tribe. As you progress through the game, you'll help each other out. While you're trying to retrieve your different armor pieces, she also wants the same armor pieces to reimprison Graven and save the world. Although the storyline isn't the most interesting in terms of details, it helps provide a natural flowing progression of the game from beginning to end, enough to satisfy most adventure gamers.

Because when you're talking about adventure games, you're mostly thinking about the gameplay and Conan certainly does decently with the overall fun that can be had with combat system. If you're looking for a game with gore, then look no further because the savagery expressed upon the foes of the Cimmerian Warrior can look priceless when the right combos are gone through on the controller. There are many different types of combat stances that can you master over the course of the game, whether you're fighting with one sword, sword/shield, dual-weapons, or a two-handed weapon. With a multitude of combos for each weapon style, plus the ability to do some wholesome beatings hand to hand, the combat system in Conan has to be seen as one of the best out there. After waking up on the shoreline of the beach after having your armor taken from you from Graven, you'll pull a simple one-handed sword from the stomach of a dead sailor and from there, the world is your oyster with the combat system. Throughout the different chapters of the game, you'll find one-handed axes and swords, two-handed swords, pole arms, and many other weapons that all have different in style and grace. With each weapon stance, there are different combos that you can purchase with experience (red orbs that you pick up from dead bodies), that only open up the combat even more. When following through with some of the combos, you'll come across some pretty intense finishing moves, some that completely decapitate the head from a foe, or even one, done with dual-weapons, where you easily slice off both of your opponent's arms only to see the blood gushing out the limbs. But the combos aren't the only moves that will leave your jaw on the floor from gore filled screens; when battling some foes, if you push the block button right before they swing, you'll have the chance to again push a context sensitive button flashing across your screen, to pull of a one hit finishing move that consist of many different animations ranging from ripping the heart from your enemy's chest, to making a multitude of slices only to kick the abdomen of your opponent and seeing each limb go a different way, with blood gushing everywhere of course. You'll pretty much leave each room you battle in drench in blood which makes you smile after awhile. Much along the same lines as the one hit finishing moves, there will also be sequences in different parts of the game or when killing a boss, to push corresponding buttons that flash across the screen to pull off certain moves, much like in God of War. While this might be frustrating at first, you'll soon learn the different buttons and will be growing through these sequences with a little more ease which leaves you more time to watch the cool animations that finish off your opponent.

And as Conan makes his way through the game regaining pieces of his armor back, it'll open up new magical powers to unleash upon his foes, such as a Medusa like stone gaze, a raining fire spell, a power that unleashes a multitude of bats onto your enemies, and finally a power that opens a dark void which sucks nearby enemies into. The barbaric nature of the combat moves that can be completed while in combat is what sets this game apart from the rest. Even when being attacked by archers, if you don't have a shield to block with, or you don't roll away in time and eventually take an arrow in the chest, you'll need to press a button to yank the arrow out or you'll slowly lose more health. These little details and touches from a barbaric sense really add to the entire Conan experience. All the combos, powers and different moves that you're able to pull off with the different weapons give the game and its combat some breathing room, making it less repetitive as you'll spend the majority of the game in combat, and just a small fraction of the time completing some simple puzzles. The graphics component of Conan is where the game could've used a little more work. Not the actual look of the game, but some of the graphical glitches and mishaps that could've been taken care of before release. The different environments look great from the start when you wake up on the beach and walk into the jungle setting, or when you'll come across little huts or small little settlements of your enemies. These will make you feel like you're in a true Hyborian setting right out of Howard's book. All of your enemies are modeled well and the boss models look especially nice when you're battling against them whether it's just a small raider, or the huge undead elephant. Models for Conan and Akanna are especially well done, but some of the glitches come upon when the cutscenes begin such as some of your weapons seeming to disappear when a cutscene begins and then reappearing when it's over. Just little hitches like this or when you're battling an enemy and back him into a wall and he's actually battling from 'inside' the wall. Not huge mishaps, but certainly hitches that could've been completely eradicated through a longer development cycle. As you progress throughout the different chapters, you'll come across almost completely naked maidens that will call out for you to save them, and all that is needed is a simple break of the chain holding them done and then they'll thank you promiscuously and one must note that their models look great like the rest. Another graphical misstep to note would be that the camera can sometimes hinder your movement while in combat or out adventure, but as with all adventure games, the camera angle always comes into play.

Sound wise, the game is decent enough. Ron Perlman voices the part of Conan and while that may seem like a great choice, throughout your travels, it'll just seem like he didn't put everything he could into it. Some parts seem like he's pushing the words from his mouth and this can take away from the story element of the game. While it's not terrible, it couldn't have been just a little better. Other parts voiced throughout the game, such as Graven and the Warrior Queen Akanna sound great and really drive the game forward. Sometimes though, you'll hear some of Conan's punchlines repeated too closely where it takes away from the wittiness of the actual comments. On the other hand, the orchestral score sound great throughout each and every locale and during the big boss fights. Whether you're decapitating an enemy or maneuvering different puzzle pieces, you'll be pressed onward with a great musical score along the way that really captures the barbaric adventure from beginning till end.

Replay value for Conan is decent, whether you're pushing for the numerous achievements that consume most of your combat throughout the game, or you're trying out the different difficulty settings. Although, once those two objectives are complete, it's hard to tell who would come back to Conan, but the same can be said about God of War and multitudes of people, including myself, could easily go through that game again, strictly for the combat system and that just may be Conan's saving grace in the replayablity factor. One thing that might hinder the various playthroughs is the time spent loading. One would thing, with having a next generation system such as the Xbox 360 and the fact that the game is split up into levels, that would make the load times pretty decent, but for some reason, you'll be spending more time than usual between levels, even if you've just died five steps from a checkpoint, the load will always be the same. And this loading with seem even more time consuming with the final bass battle because of how frustratingly hard it can be.

Overall, it's a decent action/adventure game all around. With an a decent storyline, to some of the best combat, to decent graphics and sound, Conan is a game that can be enjoyed by a lot of people, fans of Robert Howard's fantasy setting or not. With a fully fleshed out combat system that rivals the like of God War, with a decent enough story starring the Cimmerian Warrior everyone loves, Conan is a game you should spend some time with, at least for a few days because It only takes around six to seven hours to complete the entire game.

Replay Value6.00
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