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"ok YOU try having a fictional relationship with someone after they'd fictionally used you for marzipanning trepanning while they wore fictional upset toddlers as legs, and not be bitter"
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  Conan Xbox 360 Review

Conan pushes the bounds of masculinity to the very edge of homo-eroticism. Not as much as He-man, however, who’s quite happy dangling halfway off the happy cliff with his own parade waiting at the bottom with nice soft marshmallows for him to land on. A character so manly that he has both a masculine pronoun and noun constituting his name. Trapjaw was only bitter because his soft palette had been worn away from Adam’s repeated thrustings. Conan eh?!

You start in a sort of training level prologue controlling Geoff Conan The Salmon in his hilarious adventures. All of which introduces you to the full weapon techniques and fighting styles, and vaguely suggests towards why you’re doing what you’re doing in the rest of the game. Your ancestral Cimmerian armour has been stolen by An Man and you’re cast adrift on memory bliss, waking up on a beach somewhere (Phew! Eh?!) with a sword readily at hand in the flotsam. Cue maiming.

The level of damage that can be inflicted on human adversaries is great fun. Dismemberment and decapitations abound. Also impalement, crushings and bisection. Great gouts of claret spurt from gushing, gaping wounds. Chunks of limbs and flesh fly hither and thither as manly Conan fucks them up like a big hard bastard. Treasure chests are yours to plunder. Men are yours to insert metal sticks into. Boulders are yours to lob around. Lovely muscley Conan. Look at him, glistening and lathered with sweat from his exertions.

TITS! There’s tits an all! Occasionally you’ll chance on a maiden who’s been stripped to her trolleys and tied to a stick or rock or something, and she’s well pleased when you release her from her predicament. Standing up while showing gusset and two horrible pointy polygon arse cheeks, she implores you to “crush her with your love”. No jiggling, unfortunately, and they’re all of strangely uniform size and shape, but still, it’s not a sweaty muscley man polygon.

Isn’t it about time the games industry did away with health bars? We’ve got to the stage that we’ve realised that “lives” were a redundant leftover from the arcade coin guzzlers, so how about another little step? Conan is here wading around with a big sharp stick (non-sexual content) and all it does for the most time is to knock some numbers off an invisible health bar with no detrimental effect to the sharp-stickee. How about making them limp a bit if contact was made with a leg? Switch sharp stick waving arm if that’s hit? Bigger characters obviously could take more damage then due to, oh I don’t know, fat. Thicker skin. Flesh. Fallout 3’s almost there with VATS and the crippling of limbs, but that still relies on a bar being depleted. I can imagine the boon to games such as Oblivion. At last three arrows sticking out of your face would affect your fighting and living performance. Fuck graphical advances for the next-next gen, more processing power for that stuff please.

And less of Game Shittening quick time events please. Yes. Fucking QTEs abound in the regular boss battles at the end of each level. They’re not maddeningly long ones like in Spiderman 3, but they’re STILL FUCKING THERE. I understand the difficulties in scripting a uniform ending for each boss, but surely there’s a better way than cheap QTEs? That said, there are some grisly animations depicting the end of your foes. The sorceress one in particular had me retching in empathy. So it almost balances out. Almost.

Mechanisms for advancement are gained from your maiming of normal An Men, who drop handy experience orbs with each stroke of your manly weapon. Collect enough and you’re able to unlock new weapon abilities. It’s like anti-amnesia drugs, or something. Look forward to the end of game bonus where Conan remembers how to use words of more than two syllables and do Calculus. Beating boss characters rewards you with bits of your Supah Majick Armour, which allow you to do Shitty Spells Which Am Shit.

The level design is fitting of the Hyperborian epic setting of the books/comics/films, with huge bloody bastards to carve up in a variety of leafy, deserty and rocky settings. The able Ron Perlman voices Conan and fits the role rather better than a certain Mr Schwarzenegger, due to Acting. The architecture is grand and menacing, specifically in the excellent second level where you’re hunting down a pesky dragon. The music which accompanies your adventures is also spectacularly in tune with the source material, being pompously huge and thunderingly excellent.

A criticism that could be levelled, is that it’s a rather typical repetitive button bashing hack-and-slasher. I found enough variation in the game to get a goodly amount of enjoyment out of it. There are three separate fighting styles you can employ, with enough moves in each to fill a playthrough by themselves. So button bashing really comes down to your technique or skill in the game rather than by design. It also benefits from the quite short length of 5-6 hours, which lead me to replay it about 4 or 5 times experimenting with methods of dispatching enemies.

By the time of writing you can probably pick this up for less than a tenner on the format of your choice, so you’re really not losing anything by giving it a try.
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