CONAN XBOX 360 REVIEW

As the creator of a highly anticipated hack-and-slash title for the Xbox 360, Nihilistic will spellbind you with their masterful effort on Conan, which has received remarkable attention for its inspirational cues from PS2’s God of War. What makes this game so unique and intelligent is that it delivers battles in epic proportion, showcasing a myriad of bloody sword fights and countless decapitation, which are done in bullet time. The game faithfully captures the Conan experience through a vivid description of ancient Hyboria, a desolate land filled with disorder and barbaric traditions. Some of the game’s attractions include the use of primordial weaponries and black magic that make Conan for Xbox 360 an ultimate hero’s adventure.

Sorcery and subjugating dark creatures of the underworld surrounds the story behind Conan’s quest. He’s after a valuable gem. What he finds instead is a resting place of a dark sorcerer named Graven. Upon accidentally opening it, Graven strips Conan of his armor and exiles him into this metaphysical purgatory. The idea is to leave the Cimmerian warrior for dead; instead he washes up ashore on a distant island where he meets an Amazonian-like queen, who is wiling to compromise in finding Conan’s missing armor, and eventually cast Graven back to hell. There is no denying the game is filled with blood and gore, but those scenes are not there without a purpose. They’re there to inject an emotional boost to the action.

The art of combat here is highly immersive, one that gives you satisfaction for every kill taken into account. The reason for that is Conan is equipped with a wide range of ruthless tactics, from cold-blooded combos, to excruciating pile-drivers, to devastating reversals, in which most of these moves almost always results in huge pile of nasty disembodiment. One of the most dramatic visuals you’ll see is when you perform one of Conan’s special finishers at the height of his combo – the camera shifts to bullet time, which exemplifies the viciousness of a kill. The finishers add drama when battling against gigantic mythical apes, underwater kraken, spirits of the underworld, fire-breathing dragon, and an elephant god among others.

Each encounter is as good as the last. Later on, you will be given a number of platforming challenges where you will be jumping from one ledge to another. One of them has you crossing a waterfall where you have to maneuver to each ledge without being tagged by force of the wave up above. Also, you will be dealing with opening secret passages in order to gain access to the next level. There is one stage where you have to use some wit to get the statue of the lion to open up a gate through a series of tasks. One of the reasons the game is easy to pick up is that developer Nihilistic has created RB as the universal action button.

You can use it to crack open a treasure chest, lift-up heavy objects, torch a village, yank out poisonous arrows that pierced Conan’s body, rescue topless maiden, and many more. You will earn three kinds of orbital runes as you bring about carnage to those who gets in your way. The green runes let you replenish your health bar. The blue runes power up your magic collection. The red runes provide improvements to your combos. You have an inventory of deadly arsenals in which you can improve upon, from grappling techniques to dual-handed swordsmanship. It’s up to you which upgrade would fit your fighting style. One of the greatest tools for surviving a group of stampeding stygians is the ability to use magic.

You’ll be able to turn enemies into stone or cast a spell to rain down fire from the sky. Therefore, Conan is not only deadly but mystical as well. Part of what makes the fight scenes so engaging is to rely on the most important feature of combat: blocking! Conan can almost block every hit but if you block an attack right before it hits you, you’ll trigger a counter move, in which you have two seconds to press the indicated button to execute a devastating finisher. While it’s nice to see this finisher in action, the best way to stay alive amid hordes of merciless barbarians is to dodge using the right stick. Graphically, the game looks great. It’s not next-gen but whatever visual amenities it offers are certainly done in great strive.

We enjoyed the technical subtleties that surround many of the fight scenes, from the spewing of blood when enemies are decimated to the use of slow motion to capture the intensity of a devastating finisher. Characters looks nice and monsters appear to be indigenous to that era. Conan himself looks like a very rugged warrior we saw in the movie back in the 80’s. The definition of his physic gives him a Samson-like personality. It’s amazing how strong Conan behaves in this game. He can pick up huge rock to bust open a fortified fence and push a megaton pillar to its knee. Excellent animation has made that possible.

Needless to say, the camera is rather clunky, During a jump sequence, it has cost us to lose a few lives in the process. The rest of the presentation is respectable. The cutscenes are decent for the most part and the general lighting effects do their job to emit a Hyborian climate. Though there are slight nuisances with the game’s camera, the audio component more than meets our standard. Every punch and kick has the right weight to it, while the collision of the blades exudes the deepest metallic cuts. The musical score highlights the game’s audio piece, providing a pounding orchestral beat that translates into a theatrical experience.

Conan is undoubly an epic adventure, highlighting what a great warrior should be. It’s all about immersive combat and the developer pulls that off thanks incredible special effects like slow motion sequence and the right amount of gore to reinforce a deadly blow or dismemberment. The battles scenes are enormous, which provide greater depth to Conan’s epic adventure, while the orchestral cues do their job to meet the demand of the game’s immersive killing spree. Needless to say, there are a few technical flaws that stick out with regards to camera and certain visual designs; however, they can be easily overlooked. We would have loved to see more of Conan’s black magic put to use as access to magical runes is scarce.

However on a different note, it’s nice that the game includes some light puzzle-solving and time-calculated platform challenges; these provide great variant to the combat-heavy system. There are combo upgrades and the ability to wield different kinds of weapons; these keep the action fresh and particularly engaging. As you’ll notice, the label is Rated M for violence and nudity, and they are everywhere; you’ll be rescuing maidens in distress, stripped off their clothes, and waiting to be crushed by your love. Those individuals looking for a strong action adventure would be pleased with Conan. A must-have fo hack-and-slash fans!

FINAL SCORE: 8.0 OUT OF 10