previews\ Sep 23, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Conan - PS3 - Preview

When you tackle an iconic figure like Conan, you had better do justice to Robert E. Howard’s character or risk the wrath of the Cimmerian gods – not to mention the vast legion of Conan fans.

The game begins as a Conan adventure might – the barbarian is washed ashore on a mysterious island with little memory of his past. He is immediately confronted with supernatural enemies and has only his brawn and sword to defend himself. He is very handy with the latter and the former stands him in good stead as well.

Nihilistic and THQ are behind the Conan game, and they sent along a preview for the PS3 for GameZone to take a gander. Not only are the graphics top-notch, but the action was easy to leap into the midst of and begin lying waste.

Before moving forward with the preview it is important to note that the graphic style is emblematic of some of the best fantasy artists. If you have seen the work of artists like Boris Vallejo or Frank Frazetta, then you will immediately delight in the way this game looks. Frazetta did a large number of paintings centered on Conan, and that style is represented with this game. With that in mind, you just know this game is going to look good.

And it does.

But that is just the beginning. The story of Conan is told in retrospect, from an elderly person to a child. She is reading from scrolls. There is an evil lurking just beyond the reach of Conan’s steel, one that threatens all of Hyboria. En route to the final showdown, players will tackle numerous other bosses, like the Bone Cleaver. Now if that does not sound like it is right out of the Conan novels, then nothing else will. In point of fact, the story to THQ’s title is drawn from Howard’s original novels.

This is indeed a game that is trying to remain true to the books, and it does show - not only in the way the story evolves, but in the blood and the way it treats women. If you have read any of the Howard novels, you will know what that means.

If you have played Heavenly Sword, you will recognize the combat scheme. Conan can learn/master different weapons, and he has the quick attacks and the slower, more powerful attacks as well. The right thumbstick is for rolling out of range of attacks. You will need to know how to do that. Even early on, you need to time the attacks of the bigger foe, roll to avoid them and attack from behind. You do more damage that way and do it quicker. The game’s AI precludes reflexive combat (you know, button mashing) and instead tries to make it more logical and methodical, as well as strategic.

The game’s sound was excellent and the graphics were amazing. The game itself will have 14 levels and take between 10-12 hours to play through; the length may be a detractor, but with many adventure epics falling into that time frame, this seems right in line with the next-gen trend.

One of the nice features is the way the cut scenes juxtapose against the gameplay. There is almost a graphic novel feel to the cut scenes, and then the ante is upped for the game itself. You will feel like the cut scenes are merely the appetizer for the main course (the game) and that is a very good thing.

Due out in the first quarter of 2008, Conan is shaping up to be a first-rate adventure that should entice and delight action-adventure fans.

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