Angry Robot

Tested: Conan

So first off, before any action starts we see some robed figure by a fire talking telling stories. Now, this would have worked as an opening until I heard the voice, not some wise Mako-like man or old crone. No, no we have some Dame Judy Dench knock off voice, way too civilized to be talking about Conan, telling us how we’re going to a world “undreamed by man!” as if it’s a Disney ride, not the dark archaic chaos ridden realm I’ve grown up on. No, just a time of fantasy and wonder! Bald. Er. Dash. I’m twitching before I even starting button mashing.

Then we begin as “Conan” finds himself in a temple which he’s looting. Yay. Except for the fact that the hallway we’re in is insanely similiar to the first level in God of War 2. The windows are even the same. Anyway, the button mashing begins with quick attacks on X, strong attacks on Y, grabbing and throwing with B, jumping on A, and easy to understand movements and combos. It’s simple, effective, and not so tedious that you don’t want to play anymore. If you don’t mind button mashing, action-adventure gameplay this is fine and dandy. There’s enough variation in your moves that you don’t get too bored and some bad guys do require you to at least block and parry so it’s not all super hack and slash. It’s slash shield slash. Health and experience are measured in runes. Green for health, red for experience, which you can buy new combos with. You can pick up shields and enemy weapons, which is nice because it’s fun to have two in hand and one on your back. There are different combos for two-handed weapons, two weapons, and one weapon. Lots of violent imagery as well, I like to hack arms off. It’s nice.

Seriously though, they didn’t have to make the runes pulsing orbs of light that break out of objects and fly towards you through the air. The game screams God of War, absolutely screams it. This is frustrating because it doesn’t have to! Conan should be able to stand on its own! Screw generic gameplay, if the story holds up generic is fine. The gameplay isn’t what I’m upset about. I do have fun running around in the simplistic “hey, do this and this and free so and so and here’s a dozen guys to cut your way through” run of the mill adventuring. No, this is what pisses my bawls with this game: The sheer and utter lack of creativity with the Conan licence.

Okay maybe I’m being too harsh, but I could play any dungeon crawler or hack and slash for this type of gameplay. When I play anything related to god damn Conan I expect there to be a really interesting, bloody, and creepy storyline. Something that lets me plunge into the soul of Conan, experience his profound emptiness in a world devoid of tenderness and hope. Oh he has good times now and then, sleeps with beautiful woman, eats, drinks, is sometimes merry, but he is never truly happy. He will never be truly happy. The best Conan can ever do is stay alive, and that’s why I love him.

Susan O’Connor is the writer of this “Conan” storyline. Conan thinks he’s looting for a jewel, releases a demon evil that starts infecting the land, then he teams up with a pirate warrior woman to get his magical armour back and stop the evil.

Magical armour.






What the hell? If anything Conan would be trying to destroy some weird ruin of power, he hates that sick and twisted stuff! It creeps him out! Has Susan O’Connor even read the source material? Sure, she’s written for Bioshock and Gears of War, but I’m sorry Susan, you’ve missed the mark here. One of the things I love so much about the world of Conan is how gross magic really is. Only creepy and weird people play with magic, and when they do bad stuff usuall happens. You don’t trust magic wielders because they are power hungry bastards that only care about their own magical evolution. Yeah here and there you meet some good guys who can cast a few spells mix a few potions, but by and large magic is a messed up practice for messed up people.

The dialogue! Conan has seen vicious, horrid, messed stuff. He’d call some dude he’s fighting a wretched cur or a feeble woman, but he will not call a simple pirate “spawn from hell”. Conan can cut these bitches up. He’s had many a type of spawn from hell’s mucousy blood spatter into his eyes before. Come up with something better for him to shout repeatedly during battle, Susan. “That’s one less dog on the streets!”? He’s on an island, there are no streets! And he doesn’t care about cleaning the streets up, he’s young non-king Conan! And he was a pirate for years! Also, Ron Perlman? Love you as Hellboy and everything but you are not Conan. Never will be. And I know you got paid crock shits of cash for like three days recording but can you try to curse in battle with some bloodlust? I’m sorry but the first few moments in the temple you sounded like an enthusiastic Liono, not a hardened barbarian.

Then there’s my beautiful Claudia Black. God, she is my perfect woman. She does the voice of A’Kanna, the pirate chick (and a Belit knock-off hardcore). She enlists Conan’s help on pirate island to get his magical armour back. I love her. So I’m happy she’s in the game. That is all.

So I run around on pirate island killing pirates, freeing naked chicks who say “how can I repay you” and then just stand there not repaying me, and helping get A’Kanna’s crew back in tried and true “go do that, and then that, and I’ll be here doing this but not that until you do that other thing” gameplay. Again, not complaining about that. Complaining about the bad voice acting by Ron Perlman and the terrible writing. It’s only terrible because the game is called “Conan” and really it shouldn’t be called that at all. It would be fine if this were called “Jaithyn the Slayer of Dogs” or something.

God of War took Greek myth and sexified it up (it was always sexy but they made it glam too) and put a furious, hardass bastard at the wheel so you were tearing through Ancient Greece full throttle sucking on the teat of awesome. Kratos can kick Conan’s ass. That is not a sentence I ever wanted to say, but it’s the truth. This Conan is a weak, watered down version of what he could have been. The vision of the game is sorely lacking. They spent so much time emulating the mechanics of God of War they lost sight of something pretty damned important. Conan is the god of war. And he doesn’t need any super special magic shit either, he uses his own damn self.

I’m going to finish the game and report back if the story improves, but I know it won’t. It can’t. A whale cannot skin a cat. This game cannot have a good story. I can just look at naked slave girls and hear Claudia Black’s voice and slash guys with my swords.

And that’s okay.

I just wanted something a bit more satisfying for my Conan loving soul.

2 comments on "Tested: Conan"

  1. D says:

    You’re going to finish the game?! Jesus, sounds like you hate it! Life’s too short!

  2. Nadine says:

    I hate the lack of proper characterization…But I do like hacking arms off. Compromise must be made.

    I’m playing it right now actually. Lost Odyssey…they talk SO much, and awkwardly, for so long. And those memories? My sister calls them powerpoint presentations. So more bloody adventure and then back to the thousand years…!!

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