Conan PC CD-ROM Official Website
by TDK Mediactive
Developed by Cauldron
Released - 8th April 2004
Price : £19.99
Those in the know will be aware of the fact that the Conan phenomenon began long before the Conan the Barbarian movie which starred a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. Conan the Barbarian was the creation of Robert E. Howard and was a hero like no other. Conan was savage-like yet, at the same time, was a man of honour as well as being a phenomenal warrior. Conan was known as the 'greatest hero of the Hyborian age'. Conan the game is mercifully based on Howard's books and not the Schwarzenegger movie.
The game is a tale of revenge for Conan. Conan returns to Cimmeria to find it burnt to the ground. He finds only an old man alive, but nevertheless does not have long to live because of the injuries he has sustained, who informs him of who has carried out the atrocity. Those responsible are known as the Vulture Cult and Conan swears to avenge his slaughtered friends by putting an end to their existence. On his quest for revenge, which takes him across 5 expansive regions of Hyboria, Conan will encounter many enemies, some of whom are powerful mystical creatures, who will test his fighting skills to the full. Conan will also have to retrieve the pieces of the Atlantean Sword if he is to have a chance of defeating the evil Vulture Cult.
Conan is a combat heavy action RPG that will appeal to fans of action games more than it will to RPG enthusiasts. Conan earns experience points during his battles and these experience points can be used to develop Conan's skills and abilities. Every aspect of Conan's combat technique ranging from a basic swing to a whirlwind kick can be developed. This is actually very impressive and certainly has to be one of the most impressive combat development systems yet seen in a game. Through the course of the game Conan will have access to 16 weapons, although to begin with he'll only have the Father's Sword. Later he'll acquire a variety of swords, maces and axes. Again the amount of weapons on offer is impressive and it certainly takes the hack 'n' slash elements to the next level especially as there are around 50 different combo moves.
With combat being the main focus of the game, a good control system is essential. Now on the console version the control system is pretty much set in stone as you're bound to the controller but on the PC it's a different story. I wasn't happy with the default keyboard and mouse setup but fortunately I was able to reconfigure the controls to a setup that I was comfortable with. The game supports the use of extra mouse buttons so if you have those extra two buttons that are used for back and forward in web browsers you'll be able to allocate an action to them. You can even configure a gamepad if you're not comfortable with the a keyboard and mouse arrangement.
When a game is multiplatform it's usually the PC version that suffers as a result and there are a few irritations with the game that are probably down to this. The save game system is very console like in nature and you can't save the game until you've acquired a sacred stone so in effect you have a checkpoint save game system. There are quite a few collision detection problems with Conan seemingly obstructed by an invisible obstacle from time to time. Initially the graphics look impressive but with a closer look you'll notice the console angular look of the character models. The various terrains you'll encounter during the game also look a bit too angular. That said though the graphics do still look good it's just that it's behind the current standard of what we're seeing in the latest PC games.
What you can't fault the game for though is the quality of the subtitling which is exceptional. Even on the introduction to the game (something that is almost always forgotten by the developers) subtitles can be seen so you can enjoy the game from the very beginning. The subtitles, which are an option, where on by default too which again is great to see. The game manual is also useful even though only around 20 pages are in English. The manual covers the various weapons, the skills and abilities, outlines the default controls and even throws in some background on Conan.
Whilst there are few problems with Conan, the main suspects being the save game system and the collision detection problems, it is actually a good game. Just before I finished reviewing the game I found out that a multiplayer update (1.3) has been released which will enable you to play 3 different games online or on a LAN. Body Count (which is essentially a fight 'till you drop mode), Player vs. Player for those arena battles and Time Challenges that gives you 60 seconds to score as many points through combat as you can. Only Player vs. Player can't be played against the AI. I couldn't find anyone online to play against but seeing as the game isn't released until April 8th this isn't really surprising. Still I think this multiplayer component could be popular and is a worthwhile addition to the game. If you're a fan of the Conan stories or if you like action games with a heavy focus on combat then you should enjoy Conan.
Game Rating: 7.7/10
An enjoyable game that has an impressive combat system and a staggering number of combo moves to master.
The subtitling has been very well done.