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Age of Conan review

Age of Conan review


Free-to-play / MMORPG

Publisher: Funcom

Age of Conan

"Age of Conan is a fantastic game, one that doesn’t get on the radar as often as it should." reviewed by Mat Growcott, Written on  Rating: 4 stars

Conan the Barbarian has become the forefront, the very physical representation of the genre in which he sits. When someone thinks of loin clothes, bloody battle, beautiful women and marauding (just general marauding), it is Conan which they think of. And why not? Through films, graphic novels, actual novels, comic books and video games, Conan has been an almost constant presence throughout the last 80 years. In the last decade there have been more than a few attempts at bringing Conan to an interactive medium, usually in the guise of not-fantastic action adventures. Does Age of Conan, by Funcom, the first MMO set in the world created by Robert E Howard in the pulp fiction magazines of the 30s, live up to the standards we expect? And more importantly, is it an MMO worth your time and effort?

Age of Conan review


Getting in the Game

It might just be me, but I’ve always felt a good character creation screen is a sign to how much effort the developer has put into their title. It’s not always the rule, but if there’s a great deal of faces, bodies and races to choose from, I tend to find there’s more variety within the gameplay itself. Age of Conan offers great customizing options, letting you either edit your character using simple “choose your face type, height, weight and muscle” options or a more in-depth creator. With both male and female characters to choose from, there’s plenty you can do to make the character of your dreams. The one downside? There are limited options when it comes to character classes, leaving you with only a few options if you plan not to pay-to-play. It’s an early, harsh reminder that the free-to-play model isn’t going to be the best way to play Age of Conan.

Even on the character creation screen, which takes place on a slave boat, the feel of the Conan IP is instant and gets you right in the mood. Then the boat sinks and you come across a chained, semi-naked woman desperate for your help. Along the shore line, there are looters and pirates trying to steal things washed up from your boat. You must kill the leader of a small group of bandits, steal the key and unlock the semi-naked woman from her chains. Without a weapon (I tell a lie, you have a broken oar), you must clear out a group of four or five people and, of course, you obliterate them. Despite the fact that they have swords (sometimes more than one), armour and the number advantage, they blow up in a screen of blood as you rip them apart one by one.

A Slightly Different Battle System

For an MMORPG, the fighting system is usually not worth mentioning. You press a button and you watch as your character automatically beats up an enemy. At some point, you might find the need to press another button to do a special move or us a potion, but for the most part you’re not really needed. This is where Age of Conan slightly differs – slightly being the key word. The basic mechanics are still the same, you still press the right button at the right time and your character makes a pre-determined, pre-animated movement. The difference comes in the use of things like combos, or the directions you can hit from. It doesn’t sound like it makes a huge amount of difference and, in actuality, it probably doesn’t, but it feels like you’re more involved and that makes all the difference.

Big Graphics

Similarly, the graphics are far better than average but still not the top-of-the-range that some people would go for (people with posh computers and disposable income). What sets Conan apart from the majority of the competition is that the level design is so on the mark, not only because of how well the world is set out. You quite literally have giant areas to explore, full of colour and side paths to keep you going for ages. From the moment you step onto the beach in the first area you feel you’re a part of the Conan mythology, it just feels epic. The choice between just following the one path and exploring is of course entirely up to you, but both options are well catered for and you can take as long or as quickly as you choose.

Blood and Gore

One of the first things you’ll notice is just how violent Conan can be, totally expected of course but still a little shocking at first. If you’re used to more family-friendly MMOs – the majority are at least suitable for young teens – Conan might be something a little different. Men lie attached to spiked traps, blood spurts from your enemies (and onto the screen) as you cut them to shreds and you decapitate enemies with special moves. As you explore you’ll see pigs eating entrails (I captured that one in a screenshot for you) and a lot more besides. On top of that, semi-naked women will come onto you, so for those of you who love violence but panic at the thought of sex: this game has sexual overtones.

Getting INTO the game

Slightly annoying, but not a huge deal to anybody used to MMOs – Age of Conan probably takes a little longer than the average MMO to actually get started. First it scans local files, which takes almost a minute, then it gets to “importing lists of content,” it updates content (usually doesn’t take long unless, of course, there’s actually an update) and then at last you can get into the game. But even then, with a pretty OK processor and graphics card, I find that the game still takes a while to get to the main menu and again to get into the game itself. In total, you’re probably looking at well over five minutes even take control of your character, so expect to see a lot of loading screens while you’re waiting for adventure.


My only other fault is something that can’t really be helped on the developers part, so take this as a warning rather than a factor towards the score. Age of Conan will take a long time to download, I’m talking hours. The total file size, after installation, comes in at about 25GBs, which is an incredible size and that alone might be enough to put people with internet allowances and smaller hard drives completely off. It’s not a huge issue, but one that’s worth noting if you’re interested in playing the game.

Age of Conan review : The Conclusion

Age of Conan is a fantastic game, one that doesn’t get on the radar as often as it should. Perhaps it’s just because it’s another one of those games that “couldn’t make it subscription-based” or perhaps there’s something about the sword and sorcery genre that’s just so overdone that people lump them all together without looking at quality, I don’t know. What I do know is that you can do a lot worse from an MMO than from Age of Conan. While I’ve no doubt that the almost action-RPG style gets repetitive over the long game, I’ve spent quite a few hours exploring the early parts of the game and enjoyed every second of it. Especially the bloody, nudey parts.

I don’t pretend to think that everybody will fall in love with it, but it’s a nice alternative to World of Warcraft and that sort of thing. In short, give it a go – it’s well worth it.

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