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Games software Reviews
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Age of Conan: The Hyborian Adventures game review

£39 inc VAT

Manufacturer: FunCom

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

A World of Warcraft-killer it is not, but Age of Conan: The Hyborian Adventures stands tall amid a sea of second-place MMOs.

The art of the sword

Disorientation pretty accurately describes much of the experience of playing Age of Conan: The Hyborian Adventures, since so much of the game feels painfully incomplete. Take the graphics engine, for instance: Age of Conan: The Hyborian Adventures is, hands-down, the most beautiful MMO we've ever seen. When the sun casts mottled shadows on lush, flowing underbrush and rivers gleam in a thousand points of light beneath a sapphire sky and rolling clouds, it's hard not to drop your jaw.

But zoom in on your character, and you'll notice that her hair clips through the headpieces you wear. Climb down a ladder and you'll start the descent from six feet above the highest rung, holding on to air. And next to Hyboria in daylight, Age of Conan: The Hyborian Adventures' night-time environments are so unimpressively dull that you'll crave the sunny companionship of multiplayer within minutes.

One feature that Age of Conan: The Hyborian Adventures was touted for early on was its brutal, interactive combat system, in which you can attack from different angles and chain them together into fatality-capped combos. There's no denying that if you play a melee class, you'll adore the interactivity; the combat is tangible and the finishers are brilliantly bloody. Indeed, even some healers are melee classes, and the bulk of players will be able to enjoy beautiful decapitations with a side order of XP. But if you play a caster, the fatalities you can expect will float targets off the ground for a few seconds, surround them in an aura of light, and then release them. No sweet camera shots, no blood fountains to speak of.

Age of Conan: The Hyborian Adventures Expert Verdict »

2.4GHz dual-core processor
Windows XP/Vista
2GB RAM
27GB hard-disk space
512MB DirectX 9.0 graphics card with Shader 3.0 support
  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

Age of Conan: The Hyborian Adventures was released before it was ready. The 1-20 leveling experience is mostly complete, with nifty features such as voice-acted quest givers and a rich storyline granting players a solid, next-generation RPG experience. But the further you get from the starting levels, the more you'll have to deal with smudged content. The voice acting will mysteriously disappear, along with the quests, the single-player story and the engaging instances. The primary reason to keep playing the game will be forming guilds and engaging in epic, PvP sieges with characters that have grinded to 80. Nevertheless, Age of Conan: The Hyborian Adventures' core features are brilliant. Blood, sex, power, vengeance, lordship and lust together drive a game that has tremendous potential, despite its lacklustre polish. In the months to come, Hyboria will grow into a gladiatorial contender that you may well want to experience, World of Warcraft fan or not. For the moment, though, this is a game best left to the MMO crowd that's been craving an M-rated change of pace.

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