Friday, November 2, 2007


Developer: Nihilistic Software
Publisher: THQ
Release Date: Oct. 23, 2007
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: God of War plus ... actually, God of War minus the interesting bits.

0:01 A booming war beat strums across a screen that simply says "Start Demo." So I do.

0:02 Intro. cut scene. Conan takes out a random guy and meets a warrior queen with an arrow trained on him. "I am Conan, I serve no man." "Perhaps you would suffer a woman, then." "Service her, aye, and gladly." She doesn't kill him despite this well-written affront because she admires his bravery. The black death has killed most of the men on her ship. "Do not mistake me for one of your helpless maidens barbarian." Very nice facial animation and voice acting. Decent writing too. Good start

0:03 The warrior princess disappears as soon as the cut scene ends. Like, evaporates into the ether. I can hear her screaming commands at me, but unless she's secretly The Flash, I don't know how she got away so quickly.

Looking at the controls, I see the O button does a "Camel punch." Isn't that a dirty sex act? This I gotta see. Aww... it's just a big punch.

0:05 Now I've got two swords. That's so much more awesome than one sword. Like two times as awesome.

0:06 So my sword went through the ropes of the recent suspension bridge without causing so much as a scratch, but these steel chains with a distinctive glint to them are easily destroyed with one slash. Go fig.

0:07 I rescue a shipmate from a cage. He looks a LOT like a scrawnier Kratos from God of War. Right down to the face paint. Question: Why does the game feel the need to make me hit O over and over to open this cage. Is this supposed to make me feel more engaged?

0:08 Awesome. I just picked up a guy by the legs and swung him into the ground. Oddly enough, his body went straight through a bunch of other enemies without knocking them down. Go fig.

0:09 There's an absolutely stunning, raging waterfall flowing in the background. Everything looks extremely polished. Often literally... there a nice shiny sheen to the whole proceedings. Like vaseline on the lens.

0:10 I just completed a 44 hit combo, mainly by hitting X over and over and pointing myself at the enemies. Watching Conan tear through enemies is nice to watch but not very interesting to DO. One nice touch: For the most part, the enemies attack in groups instead of waiting patiently to get their swords in.

0:11 I didn't know they had level activated elevators in... whenever this game is set.

0:17 Finally, after tearing down more cannon fodder enemies rather mindlessly, I come to a somewhat interesting fight with three burlier, more heavily armed guys. Well, I fight two of them at least... one mainly watches until I finish with the first two. They're better at blocking and dodging, which means I have to be too. Using the barrels scattered about to hit them is kind of fun.

0:19 "There's your ship, let's get off this accursed island." Wait, some of her men are still trapped. We'll need a full crew. I go off to get them because she would "die in an instant." Hey,. Conan, haven't you heard of women's lib. Er, I guess you haven't.

0:20 I got a score of 6115 for my mission, whatever that means. Why is this the first I'm seeing of this score? What goes into it? I also scored "27 limbs removed." That's an accomplishment I'll be sharing with the grandkids someday.

0:21 And the demo is over already. A video asks me to "embark on an epic journey..." "devastate enemies..." and "experience the strength, savagery and brutality of the ultimate Warrior: Conan!" The video boasts 100 unique moves and magic spells as well. Why didn't I see any of that in the demo?

0:22 Time for my patented light attack test, i.e., how far can I get in the game using only light attacks in combat, without stopping to dodge or block?

0:25 Not very far apparently. The first enemy that can block does me in. A decent showing.

0:26 I fare better with heavy attacks... I'm past the blocker already.

0:28 A quick sampling of the "witty" catch phrases I've heard Conan repeat over and over and OVER: "Begone you spawn of hell." "That should end your miserable life." "Die scoundrels." "I'll chop you into pieces." "Die you cur." Did the developers really think these would add to my immersion?

0:29 The non-stop-heavy-attack combat strategy is working wonders. I take some damage, sure, but the plentiful health bonuses take care of that.

0:31 Forgot to mention this the first time through... at this point in the demo the warrior princess tells you to "head to the ship" and you're treated to a pointless cut scene featuring an enemy warrior slowly ascending a wooden elevator and making the most ridiculous thrusting motion with his sword for no apparent reason. It's all so slow and laughable and incredibly useless.

0:33 The heavy attack strategy finally fails on the bosses. Nice to know that roughly 1/5th of the demo is potentially interesting.

0:35 One of the bosses throws a bomb that actually blows up another of the bosses. I end up getting life out of the deal. Tasty.

0:37 Boss battle finished again. It's more engaging than the rest of the game, I'll give it that, but repetitive dodging, waiting for the attack animation to finish, and striking gets old fast.I score 5855 this time... no idea why I did worse in the score department. Maybe it's because I destroyed fewer objects?

0:38 Seems a little pointless to go through the same demo for a third time, so I'll leave it at that. Even if there were more content, I doubt it would play very differently...

Would I play this game for more than an hour?
Why? A painfully beautiful game with depressingly little to offer in terms of gameplay.

This review based on a demo version downloaded from the PlayStation Network.

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