2008-12-07 21:54:08

Conan (Xbox360)

I can't begin to tell you how much I looked forward to Conan, the idea of a God of War clone done true to one of my favorite fantasy characters of all time was a breath of fresh air. Up on the GameQ it went and eventually right behind 2 worlds it arrived. I took it out of it's packaging and began to chop the arms off of pirates. Filthy swine they are bearers of the Black Plague. Sadly the fresh air of Conan bears the ill fruit of burning shit wafting in the breeze. Let's eviscerate this game and reveal it's meaty innards.

At it's heart Conan is a God of War Clone, but while God of War features a single weapon type through most of it, Conan features the ability to pick up enemy weapons and shields, torches, and steal weapons straight from the enemies hands. In combination with this the Gore factor of Conan is intense, you will chop enemy arms off, beheadings, and cut people in half horizontally and vertically with your barbarian swordplay. One of my favorite things to do in the game is make use of torches, as you can burn huts, wooden towers and enemies with it. The idea of being a barbarian burning down enemy villages and beheading them is great. Tons of fun is to be had in the swordplay.

Combine the great physics of battle with cinematics on par with the movie 300 in regards to epic slow motion finishing moves and you've got a very cinematic game, ready to show off how well you do, while also punishing you in kind. Enemies also get to show off in slow motion as well, taunting you to do better.

Now the fun bus stops, or for you Iron Man fans out there, the Funvee gets blown to shit here. Those fans of Robert E Howard's original and sadly only opus Conan the Cimmerian will find themselves conflicted with this game as initially the game is a brutal gore fest with you chopping limbs and throwing swords through people, but as soon as you defeat the first Island Boss the game takes a turn for the WTF? Suddenly Conan finds a piece of his armor, which had been enchanted by the dark magics of the main enemy of the game. Now Conan can use the powers latent inside his armor to cast spells to turn his enemies to stone. Do you see the problem yet? think about it for a second? still not getting it? have you even read Conan or watched anything from the Conan cartoon or movies? If not go read it... I'll wait, or not... I guess I'll tell you.

CONAN HATES MAGIC! Magic represents things against the gods, specifically Crom, Conan's god, so why would Conan blaspheme his own god and make use of dark magics that fly in the face of his own beliefs? because they need an excuse to put in god moves? they could very easily kept this canon by having Conan gain certain combat techniques when beating bosses, but instead they had to take the shortcut into magic, which never would've really happened if they had kept to the canon of Conan. Conan was a rogue, a thief, a barbarian and eventually a knight/King. He was a talented swordsman who shirked most of the fetters of civilization and hated with a bloody passion the dark magics of Set.

The fast button press events aren't too much of a nuisance in this game either, usually they occur as a finisher to a main boss, and usually if failed they just give the boss another boost of about half health and then you have to fight it all over again. However this all changes in the final boss fight which is a complete fucker. Not only is the battle protracted and heavily reliant on personal patience and repetition, but when you are busy comboing the boss away it'll dump you instantly into a CGI cutscene with quick events that require immediate correct key press. so if you're mid combo when you finish off the enemy health bar you might accidentally fail the event, and failing the event on the boss cuts your health in half! Brutal punishment for a very flawed system. I can't tell you how many times that fucking quick time event ended up forcing me into a restart. I'd be in the groove, smiling, rocking out to the battle music and tempo, and suddenly I'll see CGI, with a big X on it, but wait I was in mid combo doing XXYY, and I was in the Y's! oh shit there goes the button opportunity, oh there's the rat bastard shoving his hand into my chest, goodbye health! hello frustration!.

Another shitty exercise was the sheer amount of jumping puzzles in the game, there were a lot of cool jumping sequences where it was timed and you had to dodge to the right platform as the platforms were falling behind you, but I'm talking about the kind that involve water or oil or some substance raining down from above and you have to time your jumps or face instant death, followed by a repetitive load time. Combine this with the inclusion of button mash sequences where you jump to a place with lots of small handholds and so you have to repeatedly have to smash B in order to get up the wall else you'll lose your grip and fall to your doom.

I guess I really need to cover quick time events in more detail. This game loves them, like every method to include a quick time event invented would get that developer a free blowjob. first there's the opening of gates and doors, usually involving smashing B, then pressing up on the left stick then smashing B again until the door opens, or pressing up on the left stick, then down, then back up. Then there's the parry quick time event, where if you block at just the right time you can unload on an enemy by hitting the appropriate quick time event. Also there are giant crossbows at certain places and chains to open gates and chains or ropes to break and destroy something, all of which require a quick time event. And that's not including the boss fights, the monkey fights, or the statue battles. Almost every part of the game will involve mashing a button sequence, every part, no exception.

So this game was a fun rental all in all, I chose not to use the magic abilities as much as possible as they really disappointed me as a Conan fan, unfortunately it is light on replay value other than for pure unadulterated limb chopping entertainment. As you take on the different difficulties you unlock various cheats that can help you get your beheading on. All in all I give Conan a resounding 7/10. Great gameplay, shitty Magic sellout.

Reason Rank
Start 10
Fucking A body parts flying! +10
Quick Time Events -5
Jumping Puzzles -5
Fucking Conan using Magic