Conan

It may not be as technically refined as God of War, but Conan for the Xbox 360 is a faithful and fun translation of character from page to game. You can now find this game for $10 or under (mine was slightly under $10 from GoGamer, including shipping), which makes this a definite buy for hack-and-slash fans or fans of the Conan books, movies, or comics.

Conan really wants to be God of War. I’m not referring to the character, of course. Our favorite Cimmerian is quite happy being the barbarian and thief that he is, and he has no desire to switch roles with Kratos. Conan for the Xbox 360 is reminiscent of the God of War games on the PS2, though, from its emphasis on stringing together multiple-hit combos against numerous enemies to its control scheme, including its “Battle Actions” (sequences of onscreen button presses). Considering that Conan and Kratos share many of the same qualities (they are both strong, independent, ruthless, and womanizing warriors), it is understandable why the developers would choose to copy the gameplay of God of War, but how well did they replicate this highly regarded game?

Well, They replicated it well. However, there are enough flaws to prevent this game from reaching the level of God of War.

The most apparent weakness in this game is its graphics. The God of War games showed us what the PS2 was capable of doing graphically, but Conan seems to tap very little of the Xbox 360’s potential. This game would have been more acceptable as an early Xbox 360 title, but it was released in 2007 after games like Gears of War, which treated us with some amazing visuals. Frankly, if you compare the graphics in Conan to those in even the first God of War game, God of War comes out on top. This is most noticeable in the cut scenes, which look like they came straight out of a last-generation game. In fact, the weakness of the cut scene graphics almost prevented me from picking up this game, as I thought it would be representative of the game’s polish as a whole. However, the in-game graphics are much better and or only noticeably subpar when viewed closely (for example, when zooming in on the many topless women Conan rescues throughout the game).

The controls in Conan are good, for the most part. New combos and special attacks are unlocked by spending red runes you collect during the game, and these are generally easy to pull off. Each time you use a combo or special attack, you work toward mastering it. Mastering all the attacks for a weapon type (single weapon, two weapon, and two-handed weapon) opens up achievements. The manual states that two-weapon attacks are weaker and are more useful for normal enemies, but I ended up using two-weapon attacks for the majority of the game. First, it’s just fun to see Conan slice and dice his enemies, a sword in one hand and an axe in the other. Second, I found the two-handed weapon attacks too slow, leaving me open for attack. In fact, there are some enemies I just could not hit with a two-handed weapon. Overall, the fighting in this game is very satisfactory; however, the platforming is a different matter. Conan’s jump is not as responsive as it could be, and a lot of times, you will miss a jump or not grab onto a ledge even though it appears onscreen that you should have. It seems appropriate that my last review was for Astyanax for the NES, since it was another hack-and-slash game brought down by cheap pit deaths. Seems like some pesky traits of the genre persist, even after fifteen years.

Though I haven’t read any Conan for a while, from what I remember, this game has done well in capturing the theme of Robert E. Howard’s books. Conan’s attitude seem like it may be toned down a little, but the way in which he dismembers his enemies, sending them to the ground with streams of blood, is appropriate for his character. Add to this the aforementioned topless maidens in distress, and we have a very barbaric, very male-centric atmosphere that we would expect from a Conan game.

It may not be as technically refined as God of War, but Conan for the Xbox 360 is a faithful and fun translation of character from page to game. You can now find this game for $10 or under (mine was slightly under $10 from GoGamer, including shipping), which makes this a definite buy for hack-and-slash fans or fans of the Conan books, movies, or comics.

Recommended (highly recommended for Conan and hack-and-slash fans)

Advertisements

Twas the season to be gaming

This holiday season, I splurged a little bit on my gaming habit and picked up a bunch of sale and budget titles. Why, I’m not sure. I have many, many games I’ll likely never get to, but I can’t help adding to my collection when I see games at good prices. Anyway, here are my purchases since Thanksgiving:

Xbox 360
Assassin’s Creed (Platinum Hits)
Battle Fantasia
Blue Dragon
Conan
Crackdown
Dark Sector
Dead or Alive Xtreme 2
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
Ghostbusters
Guitar Hero 5
Resident Evil 5
Rise of the Argonauts
Silent Hill: Homecoming
Stranglehold
Timeshift
Tomb Raider Anniversary
Tomb Raider: Underworld
Viking: Battle for Asgard

Xbox Live
Castle Crashers
Marvel vs. Capcom 2
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

Wii
The Conduit
The House of the Dead: Overkill
Madworld
Nights: Journey of Dreams

PS3
Beowulf
Dead Space

PC
The Movies

That’s twenty-eight new games, for those of you counting. Now if only I could retire and play games all day, I might get to all of these before I die.

My Microsoft Xbox 360 Collection

This list last updated September 14, 2010.

Assassin’s Creed (Platinum Hits)
Battle Fantasia
Big Bumpin’
Blue Dragon
Call of Duty 2
Clive Barker’s Jericho
Conan
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Condemned 2: Bloodshot
Crackdown
Dark Sector
Dead or Alive Xtreme 2
Gears of War
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
Ghostbusters
Grand Theft Auto 4
Guitar Hero 5
Kameo: Elements of Power (Platinum Hits)
Madden NFL 07
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Pocketbike Racer
Rise of the Argonauts
Silent Hill: Homecoming
Sneak King
Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection
Stranglehold
Timeshift
Tomb Raider Anniversary
Tomb Raider: Underworld
Viking: Battle for Asgard
Virtua Fighter 5 Online

Current game count: 31