Californian Developer Nihilistic primal instincts come out in the game adaptation of Conan. Unleashing wild combos, beheading guards and rescuing topless woman is all in a days work for the Cimmeria barbarian called Conan.
Since Conan has been released a few weeks ago, I’ve had the chance to fight my way through the countryside fighting all types of wild animals, a vast variety of armed warriors, demonic beats, and let’s not forget the giant men, squids, dragons and other "giant" mythological creatures. It’s easy to compare Conan to the similar God of War like the majority of online critics because it's true. Conan is very similar to this generalized perspective, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun with this brainless button masher action adventure.
The storyline in Conan doesn’t try and match the motion pictures from the 1982, or try to go out side the box of what Conan is all about. Conan is a strong, simpleton barbarian that knows how to get the job done, one laceration at a time. In this tale, Conan unleashes a magic power which has been entangled to the sorcerer named Graven. During this event Conan’s armour was stripped from him and it’s placed with a number of Graven’s guardians that need to be defeated as you search for your belongings and hunt down the evil sorcerer. The plot line gets a little more involved with the introduction of a female character, but its nothing too advanced. For what the gameplay delivers the plot line adequately suffices.
If you need a more “Conan” explanation, you enter an area kill everything that moves and advance to the next area, and kill everything there. This repeats over a number of levels with the occasional boss battle and that is Conan. To keep this from becoming a snooze, it’s good that Nihilistic put a fair amount of creativity put into the environments given the subject matter. Along you journey some of the areas Conan will battle through include hostile villigates, pirate ships, underground caverns, and multi-levelled building sites. Besides changing his environment, Conan really doesn’t offer to much in the way of game diversity besides a few puzzles, over the top boss battles and a few cut-scenes thrown around. Conan is the perfect example of a next-generation throwback to an old style of game play that only needed a few buttons with straighahead objectives.
One thing given, Conan is simple when it comes to its gameplay, but certain aspect are quite challenging. Commanding Conan is simply done by hitting a few buttons for a strong attack, light attack, or grapple. This is the easy part; the hard part is remembering the huge amount of combination moves Nihilistic has added to the mix. You can also switch up your equipment from one sword, to a sword shield combo, dual swords, or the beastly two handed sword. Each different configuration has a set of combo attacks that can be unlocked with points you earn during the game. In each category of weapon class there is a few, which also includes some torturous moves and some odd inclusions like wrestling moves. All in all the combat can be quite repetitive unless you want to do your homework and learn the harder combos.
Additional weapons can be found from your fallen foes, or from the littering of environments. This makes it easy to switch up and have fun with a different fighting style for a while. Each configuration has their own advantages which can individual be mastered. I had a good run with holding two swords at once which makes it easy to de-limb your enemies. One of the coolest moves in Conan is slashing down with the double swords right through your enemy’s shoulders to rip both arms out of their sockets. The other weapons like the shield, sword help defensively take down enemies with the ability to block some attacks that otherwise can’t be avoided, and the two handed deal in the form of giant sized swords, or pike staffs can hit a larger radius and lift enemies into the air to give the big man a few seconds to rest. In a way Conan brings an element of strategy to the combat which gets more and more difficult as you progress through the game.
A surprising addition to Conan is the fact that it has nudity. The nudity is approached in a normal sense without too much attention to sex. In Conan you will have to rescue a number of topless imprisoned women that are usually chained to a wall, or a rock, or some other surface. Conan simply walks up to them, slices their chains, and receives his reward which is a seductive animation, and a cheese filled one liner. Given the time period that Conan is based it would have been natural for woman to be topless, although you have to wonder if this wasn’t a slight marketing ploy to get more “male” interest in the product. I mean, adding naked girls to beheading people and burning down rouge pirate ships sounds too good to be true.
If collecting achievements is your deal Xbox 360 owners have their work cut out for them because grabbing all the points in Conan will take multiple play troughs. A lot of the achievements are basic, do this so many times, but there are other ones that can be a little tricky. I felt the achievements in Conan actually kept me glued to the game along with its other elements. I wanted to impale 100 people on spikes, or rescue all the maidens, just for that little pop-up message of accomplishment. Besides achievements you can unlock artwork from the games production and access online leaderboards. Conan has no online component or co-op aspect included.
The look of Conan is a realistic representation of barbarian and thankfully not the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The voice over work from Ron Perlman is good enough to pass as the bulking barbarian in the few lines he grunts. For the most part the graphics and audio score in Conan are acceptable with the big nod going toward the animation. Given the amount of ways Conan slices and dices through his enemies you have to figure that Nihilistic spent a few good hours in the motion capture studio. If you’re looking for negatives they can also be found, but you'll most likely distracted by the blood drenched levels and breasts to miss the slight chug in the animations and the jagged textures that can be found. Conan marches right along bringing the production quality up high enough to keep the game flowing which is the main point I think Nihilistic was going for.
Conan the character is brutal, honest and straight to the point, and so is Nihilistic’s version of Conan the game. Even though there isn’t much past the combat, Conan is still a lot of fun if you’re into mythological lore, saving naked woman, and getting vicious in battle. There is a good reason that “M” is slapped on the box, this game isn’t shy, and loves to see bloodshed and separated limbs. If you’re looking for a no-brainer action game, Conan delivers one bloody dish.
Gameplay: 7, Graphics/Sound:7, Innovation: 6, Mojo:8 Final: 7 / 10