Conan First Look

THQ and Nihilistic give us an early look at their upcoming game starring the world's most famous barbarian.

THQ and developer Nihilistic showed off an early version of their upcoming action game based on Conan at a press event this evening. The third-person action game drops you in the animal pelts of the famous barbarian and promises to offer ample opportunity to hack and maim. Though the game wasn't playable, we were given a guided demo that offered an overview of what's possible when the fledgling generation of current consoles meets a surly barbarian.

The guided demo on the Xbox 360 ran through four areas--Stygia, an outdoor jungle area, Kush, and a boss battle at sea--which gave a sampling of where the game is headed. Stygia dropped the angry barbarian in gloomy ruins that will show up roughly halfway through the game. It featured a mix of tight quarters and broader open areas populated by enemies who were asking for a good thrashing. Amid the mobs of grunts was a miniboss character who presented Conan with a decent challenge. Reps on hand explained that you'll find minibosses peppered throughout the levels to keep you from getting too complacent.

The outdoor jungle area is intended to serve as the game's opening tutorial level. It provided a good contrast to Stygia's bleak tomblike environs. The area had Conan running through lush jungles and up to a village on a quest to rescue some folks in distress. Besides offering a more deliberate look at the combat system, the level showcased the interactivity Nihilistic is aiming to have in the game. Conan's "anything goes" approach to combat is smartly complemented by the interactive environment that lets you pick up and throw whatever's handy.

The boss fight, which pit Conan against a grabby squid, offered a distinctive change of pace from the standard running around seen in the first two levels. The level revolved around Conan dealing with the multilimbed sea creature's unwanted aggression toward his ship and crew. The fight ran the length of the ship as the massive sea critter attacked with its arms and did some damage to Conan's ship. The monster's thrashing made short work of the ship's crew, and to further complicate matters, its ink attacks turned Conan's once-helpful crew members into aggressive ink-covered zombies intent on causing trouble. The demo didn't show the whole fight, but from what we saw, the fight will move up and down the ship as Conan contends with the squid's arms.

The final area we saw showed yet another locale, Kush, which is an arid African-inspired plain that should be familiar to Conan fans. Our short look at the level revolved around Conan making his way through a rocky area with cliffs and unfriendly lions.

While the demo did a fine job of showing off the game's impressive visuals, our attention was focused squarely on its combat system. Nihilistic reps on hand noted that Conan's fighting system would offer an accessible experience that, like Ninja Gaiden, would reward players who put time into understanding its nuances. The game will feature more than 100 different moves for you to master and use over the course of the adventure. To prevent you from falling into a rut and relying on the same two or three moves to get through the game, Nihilistic is aiming to have the computer-controlled enemies offer a more dynamic challenge and force you to mix up your repertoire and work slick moves such as parrying into your routine. Besides a robust mix of hacks, slashes, grapples, throws, and normal attacks, you'll earn special moves that will offer significant advantages over standard attacks. In addition, you'll have a chance to trigger Conan's "song of death" mode, which will enhance your attacks for a time. The mode is triggered by your momentum in battle, so the longer your combos are, the more you'll fill an onscreen meter that tracks your performance. Once you have enough momentum, you'll slip into the mode and enjoy some enhanced stats for a short stretch. In addition to Conan's standard hands-on physical attacks, the barbarian will be able to pick up and use any weapon or shield he can wrest from an opponent's hand (living or dead). You can choose to dual-wield with two weapons if you like or throw one if you have to deal with archers or other enemies with ranged attacks.

As we've mentioned, the visuals were looking good. Given the game's early state, there were frame-rate issues, but the game looked very sharp. Conan looked good and moved pretty well. His attack animation and the many creative ways we saw him kill his foes were satisfying. The environments were suitably shiny and pretty to look at. The areas featured a nice amount of variety that was well in line with Conan lore.

Though our demo gave us a good taste of what to expect from Conan, we had to hit up Nihilistic to find out what else the game has in store for prospective barbarians. An experience system will let you level up and buff up your killing skills. Special attacks and special finishers are also in the game to help you dispatch your enemies with some style. The game will also feature some low-key puzzle solving that revolves around using the environment.

Based on what we saw, Conan is headed in a promising direction that's hitting all the right notes for a game starring the barbarian poster boy. There will be plenty of blood, bone snapping, and exotic locales to suit Conan's lifestyle. Though some elements are inspired from recent popular franchises, the game certainly seems to be getting the "murder people in fun and exciting ways" vibe we were hoping for. If you're a fan of Conan or enjoy doing horrible things to your foes, you'll want to keep an eye out for Conan when it ships early next year for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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Discussion

87 comments
andys320
andys320

I hope Arnold does the voice acting for Conan. CROM!!!

ConkerTheKing
ConkerTheKing

Nihilistic... These are the same developers who made Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects. I hope they've hired some new talent for this project ;-) If this game comes even close to its Fact Sheet features I'll get the game as I'm a Conan fan, but I have my doubts about the developer.

nextgenisps3
nextgenisps3

You cant compare Kratos to Conan, how can u comapre a GOD to a human?? anyway the game looks interesting :D

awesomeanimal
awesomeanimal

People say that Kratos is way tougher and more brutal but he isn't. If it weren't for those god blades he would have died by a stupid barbaian. Conan doesn't have anything godly and he still could have taken that entire army that Kratos fought with his bare hands. Conan can dominate Kratos

Gadeos
Gadeos

I'm just watching at a hack-and-slash game which luckily will be a little bit better than Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom (and that's too much to say). I really hope developers borrow from GoW (I and II) and put some spice to the game. I know, it's too early on development, yet that doesn't mean you can't be critic about it.

awesomeanimal
awesomeanimal

How many times do I have 2 tell u 2 stop critising da game? Da game is really early in deveopment and da graphics look pretty good. I bet that God of War looked horrible dis early in development.

FlashCharge
FlashCharge

Conan looks interesting and embodies the Conan that we have come to enjoy. California should be proud and here's one for the governor.

handey63
handey63

dont like the graphics, but love all the blood

WaylanderFW
WaylanderFW

I am a huge GofW fan... but I am not sure if this will rock...

datniccah187
datniccah187

Looks to much like God of War. And there is only one God of War lets be clean on that lol.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

I can't wait.They are currently using my body for all the motion capturing.

KAP_Bohica
KAP_Bohica

They need to tighten up the graphics a lot. Then make it so I can chop someones head off online. The more gore the better.

bloodyrooster
bloodyrooster

This is for the God of War of people. ...not for me.

saadniazi
saadniazi

_stuff_ how the heck did u compare god of war's and ninja gaiden's combat systems? GOW SUCKED!!! its soo arcade n all the combos were pretty useless, that game had just one gimmic, the grab and execution moves, n it was satisfying for the first 20 mins n thats it...x_x....seriously...NG is BEYOND GOW. i think wat they meant was something like ng's simple 2 button setup but allowing the movement to be part of it aswell, which i kinda got from the whole parrying thing they talked about. but iguess we'll find out when it comes out.

DenisLOTR
DenisLOTR

This game is NOT Age of Conan, the MMO which is being release for PC and Xbox 360. This is another game...please stop confusing the two.

spelledarn
spelledarn

I think this game has great potential, but it doesn't look much better than a PS2 or Xbox game at the moment.

DredWulf
DredWulf

they did mention it's still in early development I have hope.

strwrs24
strwrs24

How do you kill a god ( God of War) and bring it to the 360?... This could possibly do just that.

_Stuff_
_Stuff_

It's noticeably rough around the edges at the moment, but I don't know. I see this game actually working. I don't know if the game-play will be on par with God of War or Ninja Gaiden, but as long as it comes close enough to be enjoyable it should be good. Conan owns.

BigDaveyDogz
BigDaveyDogz

looks pretty awesome...will be keeping my eye on this!

dantesergei
dantesergei

the graphics are F*** horrible i hope they will fix it

Lumenadducere
Lumenadducere

Between this and the MMO, I really hope that Howard's Conan and the Hyborian Age are accurately represented. I have my doubts about this one, but the MMO is looking good.

metaljeff
metaljeff

The original Conan books by Robert E Howard are immersive, as are his John Carter of Mars series.

carpathianrogue
carpathianrogue

@Cniinc : About the graphics: The game's still got a year till it's released. Optimisation's not even entered the timetable yet, I should think. Nihilistic have still got to complete the game, before it can be prettied up. :) Also, Funcom's Age of Conan IS coming to Xbox 360, as well. There's a seperate (internal) team assigned to the 360 version of that, to make sure that it's a great 360 game, while retaining the focus of the PC version. Honestly, I'm just impressed that this far out, THQ have been able to show Conan action to offer the slightest hint of what they're aiming for. Now, I'm going to watch the dev interview. One thing I would like to see though, is some sensation of impact when you hit something, though the animation already is very impressive. :)

NND1
NND1

Conan Is Awesome -- I hope the Programmers can tighten up the graphix.....

foxy42
foxy42

I 'hope' and expect the xbox360 graphics engine isn't finished yet...

Cniinc
Cniinc

God this game looks TERRIBLE! the blood is flat, has no dimension, and the whole setup looks poor. If they are in early stages, I hope they fix that, because I'd rather look at the PS2 God of War I! Oh, and by the way, The conan game for the PC is "Age of Conan." That's an MMO, and it's different. I though it was wierd that the PC MMO was being converted too, but alas, we're all mistaken :)

TonyTwist_basic
TonyTwist_basic

Personally, I'm totally stoked about this new Conan title! GoW is a great game, but in the end, the two games will be quite different. Afterall, Conan favors Bastard Swords & Great-Swords, rather than Krytos'; choice of chain based weapons. Not to mention, the Conan Saga is set much earlier in time, around 10000 BC, at the end of the last ice age. To date, I've played nearly every single Conan game since the old MS-DOS title that was published during the 386 era. That said, I'll definitely buy this title as well, since to me, it not just the game play that I see developing, but the license... Conan. I mean, come on.... this is one of the baddest doods to ever be conceived. Also, unlike GoW, this game actually has fighting styles that you learn, like Tekken (the undisputed heavy weight in high-end fighting games). "The streets will flow with the blood of the unbelievers!"

daveg1
daveg1

looks dreadful!! plus isnt this a dx10 game on the pc?

rasalibra468
rasalibra468

WOW looks fun, but i wont buy most likely because it looks to much like god of war. i think they was just trying to challenge god of war.

jack_saab89
jack_saab89

emm its a bit weird though isn't conan on pc too cause i have conan on pc maybe they are making it on ps3 and xbox 360 right ? can anyone guess ?

Sub-Zero564
Sub-Zero564

I hope they stay true to the story, and they have a year of development. So who's to say if it's good or not I want to try a hands on.

gmax
gmax

Vat about Ahhnollld?

tesseracht
tesseracht

EastsideMafia wrote:"Conan's been ripping harpie wings and cutting off minotaur heads a-la-Kratos for the last 30 odd years." Um, Conan's been around for 75 years. The first story was published in 1932.

Areola54
Areola54

looks like a ps2 games. is this a XBL arcade game?

crozzan
crozzan

vamroc you make no sense... I hope the gameplay is good!

vamroc
vamroc

God Of War has just been given notice daddies home and its time for his little boy to put the toys a way. Holy Crap I just saw gamplay movie 2 and that squid is gonna fracking awesome. I hope Red Sonja is going to be in it she is such a badass.

sviken
sviken

haha so fun reading here, kids bashing the game, calling it a ripoff of GoW, and saying it ain't pretty... it's like calling a sports car ugly when only the framework is finished... ^^ and saying LOTR is a ripoff of Warcraft, with the orcs and dwarfs and so on... kids! /love

-HCMF-
-HCMF-

CCCCCCRRRRRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!

-HCMF-
-HCMF-

ummm conan smash

Shad_Zero
Shad_Zero

i love terror games...blood...lol

cswkhan
cswkhan

"How old are some of you people? Conan influenced God of War, not the other way around. Everything about God of War has deep references to classic Conan stories and movies. Conan's been ripping harpie wings and cutting off minotaur heads a-la-Kratos for the last 30 odd years. Kratos has been around for what, 3 - 4 yrs? They really need to put an age identifier on this site." It's like that, but closer to 75 years. Robert E. Howard was a contemporary of HPL.

Sacif
Sacif

Well I hope they release a demo, THQ doesn't have such a good rep with me anymore.