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Conan review: Conan

Conan the barbarian is exactly that -- a barbarian -- so you shouldn't expect anything less than a blood and gore filled hack-and-slash.

David Power
4 min read

Conan the barbarian is exactly that -- a barbarian -- so you shouldn't expect anything less than a blood and gore filled hack-and-slash action adventure game.

Master the devastating finishing moves which will usually consist of dismembering your foe.



The Good

Good and responsive control system. Different weapon fighting styles from the beginning. Huge amount of weapon combos to be learnt.

The Bad

Some lengthy and frustrating boss fights.

The Bottom Line

Conan the barbarian is exactly that -- a barbarian -- so you shouldn’t expect anything less than a blood and gore filled hack-and-slash.

As Conan you are on a quest to ultimately defeat the evil wizard known as Graven, who is infecting the land of Hyboria with a plague known as the Black Death. The only way you can face Graven is with your missing armour, currently scattered around the Black Death-infected lands and guarded by demon bosses.

It isn't a completely mindless button-mashing experience, however. Yes there are small and easily crushed enemies, but you will face challenging enemies more often than not. There are tiny puzzles to complete during the game, but never any that will be entirely mind boggling.

There are a variety of different weapon fighting styles to use right from the beginning of Conan. This is because your enemy's dropped weapons can be picked up and used whenever you like. Single-handed weapons deal powerful blows and can also be equipped with a shield for added blocking power. Dual-wielding swords and axes are fast, have lethal finishing moves, and are best for hacking through mobs of enemies. Two-handed weapons deal the most damage in single blows from an extended range, but at a slower rate. Therefore they are best for taking out shielded enemies and bosses, but not as effective on mobs of enemies. The beauty of Conan's weapon system is that mid-fight you can swap from dual-wielding to a two-handed sword on-the-fly.

Each fighting style has its individual moves and combos, with more to be unlocked with experience points earned during the game. Experience -- like health and magic replenishments -- are known as runes and are received from killing enemies or destroying random objects around the level. Another way experience runes can be collected is by freeing beautiful chained-up topless women which are scattered around. Once enough experience is earned you are then able to unlock new combos for each fighting style, becoming progressively more expensive for the bigger and deadlier moves. When a new combo move is learnt it then can be mastered by using it on your enemies. Once you have mastered it you will gain extra experience, health or armour power on a successful move.

Knowing which combos you will want to unlock will come down to your preferred style of play. Still, that doesn't mean you will be completing the entire game in one fighting style. Different enemies are somewhat easier to take down with certain styles, and the blocking of arrows can only be done with a shield. Bosses for example, are harder to land combos on, so taking advantage of two-handed weapon's extra damage will work out better. There are some awesome combos to have a go at -- with some of the larger ones decapitating and severing the limbs of your opponent. Dealing out combos among a group of enemies happens seamlessly, making it easy to switch between your enemies while maintaining a hit streak. By continuingly landing hits on enemies you will fill up what is called your Song of Death bar. Once full, Conan's weapons will charge up and deal more powerful attacks over a short period.

Take on bosses who are holding pieces of your armour.

The control style is similar to what most hack-and-slash games follow these days, and Conan hasn't tried to change that. Movement is controlled with the left joystick and rolling away to evade enemy attacks is done with the right. Essentially, you have a light and heavy attack, as well as a grab/punch attack -- which isn't as effective on tougher enemies. Blocking is done with left trigger and if you are quick enough to block moments before an attack lands, it will parry the attack, prompting you to hit a certain button to deliver a devastating counter-attack (which will usually involve Conan throwing his enemy into the air and severing a limb or two).

Conan's visuals aren't terrible but they are definitely lacking in areas. The environment and characters textures are not incredibly detailed and this is especially noticeable in cut scenes. Shading and lighting effects are something to clean up its appearance although. The action sequences are the defining point in Conan and look realistic and flow together smoothly. Hellboy star Ron Perlman as the voice of Conan was a good choice.

If you are a fan of brutal hack-and-slash games you will no doubt enjoy Conan. While not being the best of its genre it definitely exceeded our expectations immensely. The levels will keep you very entertained while brutally hacking into multiple enemies with the different weapon fighting styles.