The Barbarian Is Back, Slashing

Friday, January 18, 2008

After a long layoff from gaming, Conan the Barbarian is back with a roar.

Fans of the muscle-bound Cimmerian warrior will find an original story in this game, which spans more than seven hours. Conan, left for dead by a dark sorcerer named Graven, teams with a queen to rescue topless slave girls chained to rocks, and to battle pirates, the Stygian army, an elephant cult and assorted beasts and monsters. The game is pure hack-and-slash button-mashing.

Developer Nihilistic has borrowed heavily from God of War, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. There's a lot of gore and dismemberment as Conan slices through groups of enemy attackers with an assortment of short and long swords, among other weapons. He gains new combo attacks as he progresses, and a parry system works well. In this game, not faithful to the original novels, Conan can also wield magic that can easily wipe out a wave of attackers.

Although the camera is excellent and actor Ron Perlman does well as the voice of Conan, the game's visuals suffer from jagged edges that detract from its overall quality. The game is relatively easy to plow through, at least until the last, extremely difficult battle.

-- John Gaudiosi

Conan Mature; PlayStation3, Xbox 360 ($60) THQ/Nihilistic Conan Mature; PlayStation3, Xbox 360 ($60) THQ/Nihilistic

© 2008 The Washington Post Company