First Impressions: Age of Conan

Boobies, lots of boobies. That’s what we bought Conan for, right? Well, sort of. The majority of its buyers claim to have purchased the product for a true “M for mature” rating, and not just for the bare skin and blood either. They wanted a game that would transport and encompass them into the brutality, sensuality, and dark lore of the Robert E. Howard world. Did they get what they wanted? Not sure, but here is my small insight into this new MMORPG.

Ok, first off, before you even consider buying this game, you’d better have a nice computer with a newer graphics card. Even with a top of the line PC, graphical options such as anti-aliasing will drastically reduce frame rate. Running it at medium settings is fine, but here is a comparison between a midrange and an extreme PC. Latency is on the higher side, especially in the larger cities, but that is to be expected.

Speaking of graphics, in game visuals are nice but somehow lack the flair of other games. They get the job done, I suppose, but there are still plenty of glitches (rendering, clipping, textures, jitters) to work out. Sadly, armor in game is not what I envisioned and not even close to the concept art – my character is running around in paper bags and has been for many, many ugly levels.

Sound effects are well done and the music has the true feel of the Conan the Barbarian movie. Voice acting is far, far better than you will hear in any other current RPGs, let alone any MMOs. It only lasts through the first act though, leaving the remaining NPCs to grunts, groans, and other eyebrow raising sounds.

Currently, I am playing as a Priest of Mitra (Hyboria’s cleric) on a two man team and have worked up through level 39. Being on a PvE server, the quests are my favorite part of the game, going a bit beyond the typical FedEx chores of “run and fetch.” Sadly, there are numerous quest glitches, the worst being those that make the goal impossible or frustratingly time consuming. Gathering is another element of the game that I enjoy, running around collecting materials that will eventually allow for item crafting (level 40). It appeals to my meticulous nature, in addition to providing an alternate, non-quest method of gaining XP.

There are a vast number of improvements that need to be applied to the UI and player controls before gameplay will feel tight, but again it has not been two weeks since release.

The greatest disappointment I have had so far is the lack of a more mature atmosphere to the game. Beyond the character creation scene, there is very little* besides some exposed breasts and occasional profanity that separate it from other MMOs. As a game with such potential, Funcom should prioritize their main selling point as the number one issue to address.

So, overview: Age of Conan is worth the buy and the free month of play. Worth the fifteen dollar monthly charge? Waits to be seen.

* Melee fatalities. Dude, they are just plain awesome; talk about badass grizzly.

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