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October 23, 2007
Conan - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Now that's a big sword!
First things first. This version of Conan from THQ is no relation to Age of Conan which is a PC massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) from Funcom.

So what do we have here. Well I'll say this right now. If you don't like the blood or massive amounts of violence in your games then Conan is not the game for you. Go away. You won't like it. Decapitations, dismemberment, sorcery and death is all over the place in this game - and that's why I love it! At first glance Conan doesn't look too dissimilar to God of War on the PS2, or Heavenly Sword on the PS3 as your hero hacks and slashes his way through hundreds of enemies.

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The games effects are pretty impressive.
To many people reading this preview Conan would be known as the 1982 movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Indeed for much of my life that was the extent of the property as well, with little knowledge of the novels or comics. In fact, Conan started out as series of stories written by Robert E. Howard in 1932 for publication in Weird Tales magazine. Between 1932 and 1936, when Howard committed suicide, he wrote 21 Conan-based stories, 17 of which were published. In recent years all the works have been re-published, including the four unpublished stories. It is upon these stories which THQ, and developers Nihilistic, have taken inspiration for this game - and not the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies which varied greatly from the original stories.

This game takes place in the "Hyborian Age" - a time period made up by Howard. Players will follow the journey of Conan the Cimmerian as he fights a vicious battle against a variety of enemies and an elusive power that threatens to consume the world.

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Now that looks like a tough enemy!
Conan, as we have already mentioned, is a third person hack and slash title. When you start out the game Conan is pretty weak, with few moves of note. He has a weak and strong attack, the former of which offers greater speed then the latter, but a lot less damage as well. Fortunately Nihilistic have included a tonne of moves and combos which are unlocked by collecting red power-ups as you defeat enemies and destroy items within the game world. These power-ups can then be 'spent' on a variety of special movies and, by the end of the game you will have well over 100 special moves unlocked - many of which are quite brutal indeed. By pressing the L1 button Conan will also be able to block attacks from enemies and, should it be timed precisely, Conan will be able to perform ultra-brutal deadly movies on enemies. Conan can also pick up items to use as weapons such as barrels or crates to throw at enemies. He can also pick up weapons of defeated foes to use on other enemies.

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Conan slices up another opponent.
As well as the power-ups to purchase Green power-ups are available and will recover Conan's health while blue power-ups will fill up Conan's magic gauge. That's right Conan has magic to use including an option to freeze opponents, or pound the enemies with fiery rocks from the skies above.

The range of locations in this game is quite impressive. Not only will you battle around ancient ruins, but also along walkways, one docks, in the mountains and on ships. Where this game really shines though are the absolutely stunning, and massive boss battles. These take place over several stages - just when you think you may have defeated the enemy they come back for more. The Serpent was a particular favourite of mine due to the design of the enemy, the multiple stages of battle, and the method required to defeat him!

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Bodies, weapons and blood remain after battle.
So no game is perfect an we have to admit that there are a few issues we would have liked to see resolved here prior to release, as well as a couple of features added. Firstly despite the number of combos and moves being unlocked it really does become a button mashing affair at times - perhaps a little more refinement, or indeed necessity to use certain moves, would have been nice. I was a bit disappointed that unlike other similar titles there wasn't any real variety in the gameplay. While fun, some different gameplay elements would have been nice. Finally the final boss battle. Argh... Long, repetitive, deadly... You'll be replaying that one a few times that's for sure!

Also disappointing is the complete lack of multi-player within the game. Surely a hack and slash title such as this would be an ideal candidate for a co-op mode, or some death match styled dungeon gameplay. Unfortunately there is no multi-player at all, online or off. There is an online ranking mode however for one reason or another we could not get this going - although we're unsure if that's due to us being in Australia, or the promo disc to review.

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Conan sends an enemy flying.
Graphics are yet another area where there could have been a little more spit and polish as there is the odd glitch here and there, the lighting very occasionally seems to switch suddenly from one level to another. Character design is pretty good and while the enemies become quite generic very quickly it's the stunning bosses that really shine. The Elephant boss in particular is stunning, while the Giant Squid also manages to impress. Camera angles are for the most part pretty good however there was the odd occasion where a large jump had to be made and without a good camera angle it was impossible to tell if you were almost there, jumping a little too early, or heading in the wrong direction all together. The game has a few cut-scenes which are done fairly well using the in-game engine. The frame rate is pretty solid with only the smallest of hiccups on occasion.

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Surrounded by enemies.
Audio in the game is also rather interesting. The orchestral music is atmospheric enough and changes as you enter new areas or encounter new foes. The clashing and clanging of weapons is impressive, as are the numerous effects such as explosions. As with other areas of the game I did note the occasional glitch, but it was never gameplay destroying. The one area which I did find disappointing was the voiceovers. For the most part they are adequate but Conan himself lacks a roughness one would expect. There's no Arnie voice of course, but the voiceover used sounds a little too feminine for our liking.

I have to say that while technically not the best we've seen on the PS3 I had a great time playing THQ's Conan. The game does seem a little rushed - and indeed we initially believed the game was coming out in early 2008 before being moved forward a couple of times to October - but there's nothing here that breaks the game. Conan is a bloody action title that should put a smile on your face. As Arnie said to Crom in the 1982 Conan movie "if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!" My advice regarding this game, check it out. Now, if you do not listen, then to HELL with you too!

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSConan looks and moves quite well, but not the most detailed backgrounds and occasional glitchs are evident.
SOUNDConan sounds pretty whimpy, music and effects are passable.
GAMEPLAYSome pretty brutal hack and slashing. Massive, and fun, boss battles.
VALUEAt around 8 hours to complete this is way to short. Plenty of unlockables and some areas to discover.
OVERALLConan is yet another very solid release on the Playstation 3. It's not perfect by a long shot but action fans - and especially those that don't mind a lot of blood and gore! - would do well to check this game out.

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