"Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian..."
My hopes were high that Conan would turn out to be a quality game due to me being a Conan fan since the early 1980s when I bought every Conan comic book under the sun. Luckily for me, Nihilistic delivered a flawed but highly entertaining game that was true to the spirit of the original Robert E. Howard stories.
The God of War comparisons are inevitable with Conan. Both share a badass protagonist, skilled with weapons (and the ladies), in a fantasy world setting. Each game features gory, visceral combat in all it's limb separating glory. Also shared is the button pressing cut scenes, camera angle and a similar red orb collection system that allows you to learn new moves.
Where the two games deviate is speed. God of War has a fluidity about it that Conan does not have. There are moments when Conan rivals Kratos in unleashing combos, but controlling Kratos is a fairly effortless affair whereas Conan isn't as smooth. In some ways, this actually makes Conan harder than God of War. You will need to be more patient.
The moves themselves are well done. Conan has a stable of attacks depending on which weapon you are carrying (one handed, with or without shield, two handed, and dual wield). Red orbs are spent learning new moves and each move can be mastered by using it numerous times. Personally, I went for dual wielding axes most of the time.
The enemies you fight are also well designed, especially the bigger ones. It's not hard to discern their fight patterns - usually it just means waiting for their attack animation to end and nailing them at a weak moment. The variety in the enemies was pretty good, but the game could have used just a few more.
Graphically Conan is not going to win any awards, but the game does look pretty good. To put it kindly, the game does look a little rough around the edges, but doesn't detract from the experience and the overall design of the game fits the Conan style.
One annoying aspect was the music - mainly just the menu music which blares from your screen and will wake the dead. The in-game music isn't very noticeable, which you can view as good or bad.
The voice acting was actually very good. Ron Perlman (he of Hellboy fame) voices Conan and lends the right brand of machismo and sexism Conan is famous for. Conan was never a poet or a gentleman after all. Unfortunately, the story that the actors have to relate wasn't all that compelling. That being said however, Conan's original tales were epic in scale but really were just about slaying fools, hooking up with scantily clad women and forging a legacy that would eventually see Conan become King. On the first two points the game does fine, but in the grand scheme of Conan's world, this story was a blip.
Most of the bosses in the game are not that difficult to beat. Each boss fight is broken down into stages, with most having 4-5 stages to clear before beating them. Notably, if you die during a boss fight you are respawned at the beginning of the stage you were killed on - you are NOT returned to the very beginning of the boss fight. This makes trial and error possible without feeling that you're totally wasting your time.
If you read what others have to say about the game you will come across major complaints about the final boss. This boss has 7 stages and can be very frustrating for some gamers to beat. If you take a straight ahead approach to attacking this boss you will be flinging your controller out of the nearest window and into oncoming traffic. The trick is to be patient, wait for his underground attack and then hit him. When he enters his tentacle phase, run around the dais, time your jumps to avoid his tentacles and when he retracts the tentacles take that opportunity to turn the cogs that will bring about his end. I died a number of times fighting the final boss but as with the other bosses, you are re-spawned at the beginning of the stage you died on, so stick with it and you will get him.
Another serious complaint is that there is a glitch in the 2nd to last level that prevents some gamers from going any farther. You will need to make a jump and no matter how hard you try you won't be able to make it. I can CONFIRM this glitch as it happened to me too. If you reload a previous save (not the one closest to the jump, the one before that, which will require you re-fighting about 6 minutes of the game) the glitch will not be there and you can continue on. I would recommend browsing a walkthrough of the game to know where this glitch is.
Overall, Conan is a fun game and definitely worth playing. I was tempted to give it an extra .5 on my rating due to being a big Conan fan and happy that I could finally play as my favorite sword slinger, but really it is a solid 7.5. Since the game hasn't sold particularly well, it doesn't look as if there will be a sequel, but if there is I'll be there to continue the adventure.