|Release Date:||September 28th, 2007 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
Conan the Barbarian, if the name doesn't bring images of Arnold Schwarzenegger dressed in miniscule armour and making an awful movie to mind, then count yourself lucky. If you are one of those unfortunate enough to know of that legendary movie flop then this game might just be the one to restore your faith in the blade swinging well-muscled one.
Conan is a barbarian, not a fencer, not a gunslinger; he's good at one thing and one thing only, killing innumerate enemies in the most disgustingly gory way possible, and this game doesn't disappoint.
The setting is Hyboria, a diverse super continent filled with everything from vast rivers to wide deserts, and the game leaps in straight away, pitting Conan and his blade against demons and ghosts as he raids an ancient tomb, searching for fame and fortune.
But, as in so many ill-fated expeditions, all Conan manages to do is unleash the angry spectre of an ancient mage, who promptly blows his armour off him and casts him into the sea.
Waking on the beach of a beautiful but pirate-infested island, Conan shoulders his sword, and starts to carve a path across the known world in an effort to recover his armour.
Ok, so the plot isn't the strongpoint of the game, but the gameplay more than makes up for it.
Conan is a human tank capable of taking a huge amount of damage and using weapons twice his size without breaking a sweat. Beginning the game armed with only his trusty broadsword, the Barbarian can pick up any weapons dropped by slain enemies and combine them into devastating combinations.
The combinations really are spectacular, for example, if Conan is carrying a sword in either hand, a press of the parry button gives you a chance to press a button and unleash a gory counterattack, leaping onto the offending enemies chest, thrusting both swords through their body, and then back flipping off the stricken figure, wrenching both swords out as you go.
Any number of different combos are available depending on what you've armed Conan with: Give him a shield and he will happily bash people with it or throw it at an enemy Frisbee style. Give him a two handed broadsword and his huge swings will knock enemies left, right and centre.
There are so many attacks in the Barbarian's reservoir that sometimes it's hard to remember all the button combinations in the heat of battle and you'll find yourself button bashing furiously, but that's not so bad as every attack you unleash is both cool and deadly at the same time, turning the screen into a riot of blood and dismembered limbs.
While some gamers might label Conan as a simple hack and slasher, it's a little more than that, it's got style. Its female NPC's, which are plentiful and normally half naked, are spread throughout most levels and you can often hear a female voice calling for help. After much bloodletting, Conan can then find and free a maiden who mysteriously has lost her clothes, the game then slows down for a moment and zooms in so the player can admire the pixellated boobs of the maiden, who usually makes some sort of sordid comment then sidles off, you can't help but feel a little like you did when you first discovered the 'turns Lara naked' cheat for the original Tomb Raider.
Also, when you pull off a particularly devastating combo, the game slows down and lets you watch the gore fly. And as for the gore, there is literally gallons of the stuff, limbs flying everywhere, bodies being hit by mighty blows and just disintegrating, some of the attacks even churned my stomach, such as the one where Conan rips out an enemies insides with one hand then kicks him in the head, shattering it, sickening, but it makes you feel invincible.
And that is the problem, Conan is too strong, once you've spent your hard earned experience points and turned Conan into a killing machine, there isn't anything that can really stop you, even boss battles are surprisingly easy with Conan's huge but nimble feet and evasive rolls to help you dodge the claws/huge feet/giant hammer that are opposing you.
It can sometimes feel a little disappointing that you're practically unstoppable and capable of killing the hundreds of enemies who charge at you without breaking a sweat. On the other hand, if you like games that give you a feeling of invincibility, you'll love it.
Graphically, Conan looks good, the lighting and shadows make the scenery nice to look at and slam enemy bodies into, and each of the characters has a black line running around them, giving the game a stylish cell-shaded look without any of the cartoon side effects.
The camera however, is not so pretty. You have no choice over where the camera goes, and each scene you move into has just one set viewpoint, so fighting can sometimes seem a little too far away, and some enemies can shoot you from off screen, leaving you with no option but to keep picking up and throwing discarded weapons in hope of winging the shooter.
Overall, Conan is a fun game. Don't expect an expansive plot or exciting cutscenes, but if gallons of blood, big swords, relentless action and hundreds of scantily clad women to rescue are your thing, this one might be worth a look.
- Relentless action
- Big swords, big deaths
- Huge fight scenes
Not so good stuff
- Bad camera
- Dodgy voice acting
- A little repetitive