What do you get when you mix God of War and the adventures of a particular barbarian warrior, thief and king made famous by Robert.E.Howard? The answer: Conan from THQ.
I'm not going to waffle on here. I'm going to get to the rather blood and brain/body-part soaked point of the review. I've been playing this quite extensively, it's taken me about 12 hours or so to finish and I've actually enjoyed it. It's not quite up to the standard of God of War in terms of story and presentation but it's got the same kind of feel and doesn't push the 360's graphics engine very far at all.
You play as Conan and after some in-game engine exposition you're thrust into the violent world in a kind of set-up/prelude and mini-tutorial.
Conan wants a shiny gem; Conan rips through a tomb full of undead and living statues to get it. When Conan finally finds the object of his quest, well, he's bitten off more than he can chew and everything goes black for the poor guy. Conan loses his power and his armour.
He wakes up a short time later and then the game proper begins. You're catapulted into the whole thing right from the start when you face off against some pirates who decide they'd rather cut Conan a new one than talk to him reasonably about the weather or bunnies.
This is the kind of game that's going to have the moral-majority crowd screaming and wailing at the gates of THQ. There's gore-a-plenty and breasts too, typical for the genre that Robert.E.Howard wrote in and Arnie made more famous with those two movies. The developers even modelled guts in 3d, just so you can do a spectacular move or two and let them hang out freely from your disembowelled opponents.
Conan can pick up rocks, barrels and other objects. These can be thrown with a minimum of fuss and there's even an achievement based on killing a certain number of enemies with a hurled boulder or one hundred. Conan can also pick up virtually all the weapons in the game, torches, one handed weapons, two handed weapons, shields, dual weapons and even a one handed weapon/shield combination.
He always has a backup sword on his back so you're never left without a default weapon.
Weapons/shields/torches can also be thrown since Conan doesn't do the ranged combat thing with bows.
"Only cowards hide behind bows and arrows," as the character would say, voiced by the growly Mr. Hellboy himself: Ron Pearlman.
The strength of the game isn't in the graphics, they're good but they're not quite as polished as they could have been. Conan has a deep and quite satisfying combat system that requires knowledge of the game's enemies and a certain grasp of tactics to get the best out of it. Sure you can wade in and bash buttons, that'll get you so far against a lot of the earlier enemies.
Later on however, when you encounter the spike-shields you will want to memorise the combos that allow you to deal with them, as well as the timing required to pull them off. It's not just a case of pressing buttons randomly in the game, there's a massive move list and every weapon and weapon combination has its own set of moves to boot.