Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures

Written by Joe Martin

June 5, 2008 | 02:07

Tags: #age-of-conan #hyborian-adventures #mmorpg #multiplayer

Companies: #eidos #funcom

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures

Publisher: Eidos
Platform: PC (online only)
UK Price: £24.99 (game, plus 30 days subscription)
US Price: $49.99 (game, plus 30 days subscription)

Age of Conan has finally landed and the internets (both of ‘em) are already filled with the fanboys warring over exactly how awesome the game is.

And now it’s time for us to throw our opinion in amongst the cacophony of other voices and tell you what we think about the much anticipated MMORPG, which is based on the Conan series by Robert E. Howard.

Age of Conan isn’t the standard MMO fare though – it definitely tries to be a little bit edgier and racier by explicitly aiming for an 18+ PEGI rating. There’s plenty of focus in here on spilled blood and spread legs – lots of combat and cleavage. Is the MMO audience ready for such a mature RPG though, or should we all go back to the cartoony World of Warcraft?

Here’s what we think…

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures

Plot of Conan

Age of Conan, or Raarrgh! The MMO as it could also be known, is a online multiplayer RPG and therefore it doesn’t really have a firm story in the traditional sense. There’s not really any linear progression of the gameplay for players to plod fact, if you really wanted to then you could pretty much avoid quests altogether and just use the game as an elaborate messenger service.

That said though, there is still a standard set of starting quests for players and before the game world opens up and you’re allowed to roam the greater part of Conanland, you’ll have the usual set of mostly tutorial quests to jump through.

Regardless of which class or nationality you choose to start as, you’ll always begin the game as a slave who is shipwrecked outside the Red Hand controlled city of Tortage and who, more confused than a ninety year old great-grandmother trying to fix a memory leak, must find a way to reclaim your freedom.

Unfortunately, these early stages of the game are incredibly dull and players will find themselves doing more grinding than that ninety year old great-grandmother trying to climb a spiral staircase with two broken hips. It’s combat after pointless combat for the first hour or two at least and it isn’t until you actually make it to Tortage that you’ll actually get to do some real role playing.

This isn’t to say that the combat is dull though, as it’s clear that developer Funcom has done all it can to make the combat more than just the click-and-wait combat systems of other MMOs.

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures

While the controls are pretty much as you’d expect them to be and the enemies run the usual gamut of grunts and towering bosses, the game has an interesting shield technique which means you’ll have to constantly update your tactics to suit the battle. Enemies will guard certain sides of their body, represented by white shields surrounding them, so if you want to really deal out the damage then you’ll have to make sure you aim for the gaps.

Or at least, that’s what you’ll have to do if you’re playing one of the melee classes. If you’re more about the spell casting and the long-range attacks then you won’t have to worry about that stuff all that much.

Classes (along with player nationalities and the like) are a whole new aspect of the game though. It’s definitely one of the strengths of Age of Conan for players to be able to tweak their appearance so much, even if the limited choice of nationality (Cimmerian, Aquilonian and Stygian are the only ones on offer) do undermine the whole thing.

We’ll get to all that in a minute though, because to really understand how some of the character customisation stuff works, it may be best to look at the graphics in Age of Conan first. Flip the page and enjoy our full graphical analysis.
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