Thursday, December 20, 2007

Conan: Not "Age Of", Just Conan

The barbarism is high in this one.
You'll have to forgive me if I talk a lot about my 360 and its games over the next few weeks, but I write about what I'm playing and for a bit here I'm going to be exclusively experimenting with my Xbox.

So I spent some time last night trying out both Oblivion and Conan on the 360, and when my wife went to bed around 10pm, I found myself putting off sleep by slaying things in Nihilistic's "Conan". Sure it's a lesser-grade God of War... but dang is it fun nonetheless. I'm not usually one to say violence alone can make a game, but in Conan (for those who've read the books) it goes a LONG way.

The voice of the titular character is voiced by none other than Hellboy himself, Ron Perlman, and even though the one-liners and dialog of cutscenese is cheesey, it's done in a way to remind you of those BMUPs like Final Fight. There's nothing more smile-enducing for a fan of those games than when Conan lops off a guy's arms and then gives a diatribe about doing it. And because of the hero's move set you'll be hearing a lot of said chatty-Conan.

Based on simple button-combos, the moves range from baseball swinging a guy's head off to (I'm serious) piledriving an enemy so hard into the ground that his head bursts. The coolest tricks though come from parrying by pressing the L trigger at just the right time and then pressing the indicated button when instructed. Nothing like blocking an attack with your shield, then lifting the guy with it and slicing him in half in mid-air. It's not gross, it's hilarious in the same way the fight scenes of Kill Bill tickle the funny bone. It goes way past obscene and into chuckle-inducing spurts of blood. But maybe I'm just screwed up. What I'm saying is that it's violent, like you'd expect from the subject matter, but like an episode of South Park and not like scenes from Schindler's List.

Boss fights are absolutely fantastic as well, at least so far. There's a fight spanning nearly an entire level with a giant sand-dragon across rooftops and up statues that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and ended with a very triumphant cut scene thanks for my hard work. Is it as good as God of War? I don't think so. Like True Crime: Streets of LA a few years back, it's a fun knock off, but no match for its true Master.

I'm not sure how long the adventure lasts, but most estimates put it around 8 hours or so, so a purchase I would avoid and rather rent it over a long weekend for some gratuitous poops and giggles. The downsides of the game come in 2 key little faults.

1.) Some enemies block far too many of your attacks and force you to block and wait for them to finish their onslaught. Seems good on paper, but plays like crap in a game that's all about attacking.

2.) You can be going balls out with two swords of fury against an enemy and in the middle of your swing they will interrupt you with a weak slice of their puny Stygian arm. And when you try to do the same to them, you find that you can't and instead Conan acts like a baby and flails about as they drill you with their attacks. I suppose this is thrown in to help balance the difficulty, but man... just make it so that their attacks do more damage and immobilize the player less. Losing control of your character is never fun in any game.

Other than these two little niggles, I'd say Conan is a success in its execution. It's a very fun action game that gives you enough to do and to look forward to in order to keep the action from becoming stale. If you're a die-hard action game fan, I'd say buy it. But if you're a little pickier like me, rent it, beat it, and remember it fondly after you return it to Gamefly. Fun stuff.


Link said...

If only you could bend space and time like Hiro... imagine Bildo teleporting into the design meetings and warning them about their wonky game mechanics.

Bildo said...

Someone's been watching a lot of Heroes. :)

I'd rather someone just pay me to write reviews of games... but not Gamespot.