Conan Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
Conan box art
System: X360, PS3 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Nihilistic 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: THQ 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 23, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

This brings us to Conan's next defining feature: its mature rating. This title wears that "M" like a badge of honor. From slow-motion decapitations to throat-crushing kicks, Conan's animated violence never lets up. And every death is punctuated with a nice visual blood spray. This is, after all, the over-the-top world of Conan creator Robert E. Howard, so the blood and boobs--did we mention the topless maidens you'll be rescuing--are a tribute, and actually seem right at home in this testosterone-fueled title. While the carnage and cleavage definitely fit the bill, there are some things in Conan's world that do rob us of an entirely immersive experience.

Conan screenshot

The worst offender is the voice acting and dialogue; we can dismiss the fabric-challenged wenches grateful cries of "Crush me with your love!" as cheeky fun, but Conan's dismal delivery is just plain bad. He utters every line in the exact same wooden tone. Whether it's the oft repeated "My blade thirsts!" or the too-obvious hints he offers potentially lost players like "The only way is up," he sounds exactly the same. It's a shame they've made our favorite passionate barbarian sound like a sleepy bore. Fortunately, in the options menu, the VO can be turned down and the excellent effects can be turned up. The score is rousing and appropriate, but it's the smaller sound effects that really pop; clashing steel, crackling fires, and roaring lions will all justify the purchase of your pricey surround sound system.

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Another Hyborian highlight is Conan's boss battles. Brave barbarian wannabes will have the opportunity to take on sand dragons, elephant demons, and a slithery Medusa-like monster, just to name a few. Each of these battles are long, and your relentless enemies will get their life gauges refilled many times before your blades steal their last breath. But the developers have struck a nice balance, allowing these several-tiered battles to be more fun than frustrating; thanks to forgiving mid-battle checkpoints, you'll never be forced to restart these daunting end-boss fights from the very beginning. Like many games since God of War, Conan has also incorporated on-screen button-matching mini-games during its boss encounters. Like the exploding barrel before it, this gaming cliche is rapidly approaching its expiration date. That said, it gels really well with Conan's gameplay and never feels forced or tacked-on, as it has in so many other post-GoW games.

Conan is definitely short and linear, and its sometimes restrictive camera emphasizes both these points. It also could have used an extra coat of polish on its ugly in-game engine cutscenes and sloppy collision detection. For every minor flaw though, Conan redeems itself with cool little touches; we love pulling health-draining arrows from our chests and torching village huts to reveal orb-filled treasure chests. Minor stuff, good and bad, aside, Conan really shines with its deep and intuitive combat, gritty and gory visuals, and barely-catch-your-breath boss battles, making it a must-play for fans of the genre or anyone looking for a pulse-pounding action experience. Like a refreshing flagan of mead, Conan really hits the spot.

By Matt Cabral
CCC Freelance Writer

Features:

  • Intense action combat: Playing as Conan, players will utilize a deep and gratifying combat system that offers a variety of fighting styles to battle enemies. Through multiple movement trees, players can string together combos and fight foes using grappling moves, hand-to-hand combat, sword fights, and dual-wielded attacks.
  • Interactive Environments: Highly interactive combat locations and real-time physics will allow players to pick up any weapons in sight, such as swords, axes, spears, and torches, and use surrounding environmental elements to inflict damage on enemies.
  • Cinematic Game Play Experience: The Conan video game harnesses next generation hardware to deliver a cinematic game play experience, complete with innovative special effects, lighting, and a powerful, epic soundtrack, to capture the essence of the Conan universe.


    RATING OUT OF 5
    RATING DESCRIPTION
    4.0
    Graphics
    Good, except for those in-game engine cutscenes.
    4.5
    Control
    Nicely implemented into deep combat system.
    3.0
    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Great sound effects, but Conan's VO is best turned off.
    4.0
    Play Value
    Short, but packs enough severed heads and limbs for five games.
    4.0
    Overall Rating - Great
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
  • Screenshots / Images
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