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Tristan Kalogeropoulos
08 Nov, 2007

Conan Review

360 Review | Barbarically fun.
Something that offers both a series of joys and embarrassments is making it through your teenage years and being able to gaze back at them, taking stock of all that you’ve been through. Brimming with the awkwardness of puberty, the confusion brought on by sudden tidal wave of hormones and the desperation brought on by a need to fit in, it is easy to pass off our early years as tragic messes that would be best dealt with by hiding them one of our mind's closets. A trial by fire on the pathway out of hell. Paradoxically those years also offer up some of the most fun and carefree times that we'll experience in our lives. What does all this have to do with Nihilistic’s Conan on Xbox 360? Well the game parallels the lives of the masses of teens across the globe, offering up a great deal of embarrassing, slightly immature, yet awesomely fun experiences.

Originally created by Robert E. Howard, it appears Conan was a means by which the author could externalize his desires to escape his nerdy body and the restrictions that society placed upon it. And with the stereotypical audience for videogames doesn’t that sound like the perfect premise game?! This interactive adaptation sticks to the original short stories and the Dark Horse and Marvel comics of the late 20th century, rather than the barbarian's celluloid adaptations.

Conan’s tale follows him as he awakens on a beach, suffering short term amnesia, after battling a decidedly villainous sorcerer named Graven. As he attempts to piece together the events that led him to be bobbing about in the ocean’s brine he begins a quest that parallels this same internal sojourn, attempting to obtain some segments of magical armour that were previously his own. Although initially promising, the game’s story becomes a little lacklustre as the game progresses. The scenarios of the different chapters sometimes seem appear out of nowhere, as if a few pages of the screenplay were torn out between the two sections.

Without a doubt, Conan draws immediate comparisons to God of War, mimicking much of the game's overtly brutal and sexualized content. Its hack and slash gameplay, macho posing, and fixed camera conjure up definite memories of the title that is one of the defining contemporary action games. And in many aspects it comes close to delivering gameplay analogous with that available in the series, along with the enjoyment, and is definitely one of the better games in that style available today.

For some reason Conan always had trouble making new friends.

For some reason Conan always had trouble making new friends.
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Controls consist of the fairly standard heavy and light attacks, along with grappling and jumping. To flesh out these basic attacking skills a series of combination moves have been implemented, and the list of these is extensive to say the least. Earning experience throughout levels by downing certain enemies, rescuing helpless females, and searching out chests scattered throughout levels, new skills can be obtained, usually centering on combos. Quick attacks can also be enacted when an enemy’s strike is blocked at the last minute, resulting in a quick, and generally gory, death to the receiver of your blade’s edge.

Different weapon choices also go a great way in varying the ways in which you can slice and dice your enemies. Essentially providing you with a selection of fighting stances, weapons can be picked up along the way. These vary little throughout, but with the amount of brutality that can be enacted with each there’s little to worry about. Dual wielding, double handed, sword and shield and single sword are all options when it comes to arming yourself. The unlockable combos fall into these four categories too, meaning that there’s a list of dozens of moves to clear your way of foes.

As you regain pieces of Conan's magical armour special magical attacks are unlocked. Things such as unleashing a flock of devilish birds or a fiery rain on your opponents add yet another mode of dispatching them.

With all the finesse of a teenager’s first forays into the world of love, Conan has some incredibly embarrassing and awkward moments. Rescuing the ‘bonus’ women, chained up for some unknown reason throughout the levels is one of the most fantastically pubescent aspects of the game. Their topless figures, barely clothed lower bodies, and idiotic speeches of appreciation, such as, ‘crush me with your love’, made us remember what it was like to be 13 again. However our fears of being walked in on centred on how these scenes may have degraded our constant cries that videogames are slowly growing up, rather than the embarrassment of being sprung exercising our teenage sexual curiosity.

As daft as rescuing scantily clad females and consistently slicing foolish enemies in two is, Conan’s gameplay is, almost embarrassingly, fun. The brevity in variation of gameplay does hold back the enjoyment offered up by the game a little, but eviscerating swathes of attackers, however macabre the concept is, allows for some fantastically satisfying guilty pleasures.

Competing in the human clean and jerk.

Competing in the human clean and jerk.
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Outside of combat, spatial puzzles, such as knocking down obstructions with ballista bolts and cutting chains to access new areas, rarely provide any great cerebral strain. These usually scream out their solutions with sparkling interactive points and are usually mere roadblocks, but they do allow the game to mix up some of the action and to vary the pacing of the levels a little. Not all aspects of navigating your environment are enjoyable however.

Leaping through sections can be a little problematic and at times when launching from ledge to ledge. We had the experience of plummeting back down to the bottom of these platforming hells several times mainly due to average camera placement and slightly non responsive jumping controls.

There’s a great deal of inspiration drawn from the comics when it comes to Conan’s visual stylings. Its art direction is generally brilliant. The environments and all that is contained within them are typically lush and well fleshed out. Most things look simply stunning when quickly glanced at (especially the various ways in which you can dissect your enemies and the mess this leaves behind). However when looked at more closely some of the game’s textures are a little unpolished. Some come across as being a little unfinished, especially things such as flowing water which occasionally looks a little like pixelated ash as it pours out of carefully placed pipes. The game still manages to hold up extremely well when compared to other titles out there though.

Feeling a little less polished than the games of the God of War series, the Barbarian’s first outing on this current generation of consoles does a great job of providing some great hack and slash gameplay. Conan may have moments of awkwardness and be slightly derivative, just like our teenage years, but just as with this period of our lives, when compared to the fun that is available within, these shortcomings pale in comparison.
The Score
Conan may at times be awkward and slightly derivative, but when compared to the fun that is available within, these shortcomings pale in comparison.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Conan Content

Conan demo available for download
08 Oct, 2007 Want to give violence a try before you buy?
Conan documentary released
05 Oct, 2007 Get it here.
Conan Preview
01 Oct, 2007 We take a few swings of Conan's sword.
11 Comments
6 years ago
That's the vibe I got from the demo. Not a must-have, but a good ol' bucket of fun none-the-less.
6 years ago
Nice review. I got extra excited about this game when I bought it cuz it sorta came out of nowhere and it really took me by surprise cuz it was such a solid God of War clone (my fave type of game). There are lots of shortcoming but at the end of the day the game is lots of fun and very brutal and this review reflects that. Awesome.

It's amazing cuz I joinged Palgn a while back looking for a site which was Aussie and not much else really, but it's turned out Palgn actually has some of the most intelligent and mature reviewers i've ever seen and that's very rare and such an awesome thing to have. I'm always reading other reviews wondering how old the reviewer is cuz something in their review made them sound like a fanboy or that they didn't really play the game and are going off some tech spec sheet or feature list they got handed to review the game or something but with Palgn I never have to worry about that stuff. I guess it helps that I speak to these guys on the forums on a regular basis so I get a better idea of the people behind the reviews but i'm consistently surprised by the quiality of Palgn reviews and imo there are no better reviews out there. The scores are almost always consistent with the majority opinion of gamers out there which quite honestly makes the reviews spot-on....there's no better way to put it.

Anyways just wanted to say awesome work Palgn, keep it up.
6 years ago
Yeah i had Conan in the collection for a week and despite its many shortcomings, it was still incredibly fun. The amount of violence is just unrivalled in any game and the scantily clad women make for some more viewing pleasure.

What was most disapointing for me was the use of Ron Pearlman. Awesome actor and a very distinctive voice was just used so poorly. He says the most useless things infrequently and quite often out of context.

Aside from this major gripe it is a really fun game, probably worth a look for around the $50 mark.
6 years ago
Thanks for the feedback ugh. It's always nice to hear. Especially when you agree with us icon_lol.gif
6 years ago
This game totally needs a +new game in my opinion. To get all thoses achievements instead of starting a new game for every achievement.
6 years ago
Sylar wrote
This game totally needs a +new game in my opinion. To get all thoses achievements instead of starting a new game for every achievement.
Too true.That's the reason I didn't play through it a second time.
6 years ago
Sylar wrote
This game totally needs a +new game in my opinion. To get all thoses achievements instead of starting a new game for every achievement.
In my opinion it should be a standard feature for every game. It's part of the reason I disliked GOW1, and it's part of the reason I haven't bothered finishing Ninja Gaiden Sigma. It's a simple addition, and it effectively doubles replay value.

I've been playing Conan (I love the way everyone in the game emphasises the 'nan') for a couple of hours, and it's quite fun. Obviously it won't win any awards, but it's simple fun. The combat system is what makes or breaks these games for me, and it's much better than I expected. The ability to switch weapons essentially on-the-fly by hurling them at your foes is definitely nice.

It falls victim to the "Rolling with the Right-Analogue-Stick" curse, which I dislike intensely. Right Analogue should be for camera control/aiming only in these games. If rolling is to be a viable option it needs to be a face button/left stick combo, it's the only way you can roll speedily and accurately. The right-stick just brings a sense of amateurism to the party, where a roll is produced by jabbing clumsily to the left with a thumb that is used to pushing buttons, rather than a thumb already dedicated to movement.
6 years ago
Only downside of this game seems to be length/$ - it's still fairly expensive, for not that long of gameplay.

I'll probably wait until a cheap copy comes up on ebay, and get the must haves (AC and ME) in the next couple of weeks.

And I concur with all the positive review feedback, I love the reviews. The only one I disagreed with was Spideman 3, which I found really fun for some reason. Buggy though.
5 years ago
got this today - really cheap from playasia and so far having fun with it. Looks above average in gameplay mode - the models are a bit accky closeup in cutscenes but I'm happy with my budget purchase. icon_smile.gif
5 years ago
Dood... That was bumptastic.
5 years ago
I was gonna come in here and say it took you this long to review this game? But someone bumped it. You can't bump topics this old. post in the newest purchase thread.
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  28/09/2007 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  THQ
Genre:
  Action Adventure
Year Made:
  2007
Players:
  1

Read more...
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