No, Conan the game doesn’t feature a young Arnie as the main protagonist, which is sort of a shame since that would have been pretty cool. The Conan phenomenon actually goes way back before the movie, being the creation of Robert E. Howard. The original books sold very well, and spawn various spin-offs in the form of comics, television shows and the aforementioned movie. The game is based on the same universe as well.
Conan returns to Cimmeria to find it burnt to the ground. A dying old man informs him of who has carried out the atrocity, and so begins our hero’s tale of revenge against the Vulture Cult. Your trip across the game world spans five expansive regions, where you’ll encounter many enemies, some mystical, others mundane.
There’s a role-playing element to be found in Conan, but overall it leans more towards mindless action. Our hero earns experience points during his battles and these points can be used to purchase powerful combos, strengthen existing attacks, and lengthen his life and stamina bar. Every aspect of Conan’s combat moves, ranging from a basic swing to a whirlwind kick, can be developed.
After gathering a solid variety of combat moves, you can combine them to chop up bad guys. It can be really fun exercising several moves at a time; for instance, a mighty uppercut, a quick kick and a swift head-slicing move. Generally, when it comes to combat, Conan may offer you a few immersive hours of pure action-packed gameplay. Unfortunately, there won’t be much to involve you deeper into the game than that. Melee weapons are thrown in as a bonus, and along your journey you will be able to find a total of 16 weapons encompassing several categories (swords, axes, hammers, maces, etc).
But Conan is still a console import and it shows. The controls of the game have transitioned somewhat competently (mouse and keyboards are supported, and the keys can be reconfigured), but the camera and movements still seem a little off. The odd way in which Conan moves respective of the camera makes some of the jumping puzzles especially annoying. It could be because I couldn’t play with a gamepad and had to rely on the default keyboard and mouse combo. And if the combat won’t annoy the hell out of you, the console-tastic saving system will.
Magic stones need to be collected to save your progress. Of course, there’s a limited amount of these stones in every level, so you are required to spend them wisely. From a certain standpoint, this aspect can be regarded as one of the rare innovative and enjoyable moments throughout the whole experience. Then again, playing through standard and generally tiring hack’n’slash segments of the game won’t exactly motivate gamers to play on. If that’s what you’re looking for, there’s a certain amount of enjoyment to be had, but don’t hold your breath.
System Requirements: Pentium IV 2 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 2 GB HDD, WinXP
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