Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game set in the world of Hyboria, the world of Conan that is. Through fighting monsters, and interaction with Non Player Characters, you the player, forge a path of adventure and one of destiny.
With character creation you pick your gender and then pick your race from 3 varieties of human. You can pick your class from a total of twelve, based on the four archetypes of Warrior, Rogue, Priest, and Wizard. Be warned each race only has access to 6 classes or so and not all of the archetypes. Then it’s on to customizing your appearance. There is the basic mode were you have a pyramid slider for body shape, a height slider and a drop down list for faces; then there is the advanced mode which is full of sliders, and I don’t mean White Castle Burgers, for different sections of the body and face.
After creating your character you enter the world as a ship wrecked slave on an island, home to a pirate city. The island is broken up into instant areas for multiple players or ones meant for single players. After making it through the jungle full of bandits and the vile Pict’s you make it to the city gates, where you learn that before you enter you must be free of the slavers cuffs still attached to your wrists. Help a near by NPC and he’ll free you from your bindings, save for the one that marks your body. Once in the city the game will open up. Vendors, quest givers and the like are all abound. Yet there is more, there is a single player story mode that you can go into and out as you wish, when you find the right NPC. When talking to NPC’s many times you will get options on what to reply, be you good and noble, or evil and cut throat.
Unlike the standard point and click/auto attack combat of other MMORPG’s, combat is more involved. You’ll need to keep hitting the keys to fight with basic attacks and as you level up you’ll learn combo moves that give you even more power. Each class has a variety of weapon and armor types available and different combos work with different weapon types. Also with the right attack combos you can do devastating attacks that can leave your foe in pieces. Movement and camera work is the same as most PC games, by mouse or by keyboard, and a game pad can also be set up to work with it.
Leveling on the other hand is standard fair. As you level you gain skills and points to place in areas such healing rate, running speed, climbing, hiding, etc. Also as you gain experience between levels you gain more skill points, so look at your status screen often. At level 10 you begin to learn feats which are extra abilities. For the higher levels, players have to look forward to player generated cities and mounts to ride forth across the lands.
There are lots of lighting, shadows, and water reflections and these can be controlled as well. The game is beautiful even at low settings, and when they get it working it will make use of Direct X10 for Vista users. Be sure to have at least the recommended specs for the game to make it really worth your while. I do have some issues with frame rate, but since I’m using a downloaded client for the review, it’s part to blame. Also make sure your drivers are all up to date. For XP users the downloaded client was installing Direct X10 DLL’s so check the Age of Conan forums on how to deal with them.
Sound is well done, save for the Intro, it has issues with a lot of sound cards and drivers. Again this is from the downloaded client. For the actual game it’s great, music is right, sound effects are great, and all the NPC’s have voice work.
Now on to the grit. There are the graphics issues with the low frame rate, which seems to hit both sides of the ATI and Nivida war, though some ATI cards are hit really badly. The sound to the Intro does not work as it should for many. The installing of DX10 DLL’s in a XP system can cause issues with DX9. Now it may be caused by the fact that it’s a downloaded client I’m using or out right bugs, though it is a new MMORPG, built with a lot of new technology, i.e. DX10. So give it a month or so to shine.
The good things are it is pretty, the combat isn’t the same old MMORPG cookie cutter auto attack, single and multiplayer options, great character creation options, plenty of different classes, and more. The use of instant areas helps with server strain and they do manage to keep loading times down. If dealing with PC gaming isn’t your thing there will be an X-Box 360 version this Fall.
In the end, Funcom did well, but only time will tell if it will stand up to World of Warcraft and those MMORPG’s on the horizon, from Warhammer, to the mysterious Bioware MMORPG and the host of Asian MMORPG’s. The time I spent playing the game was enjoyable and as this being an ever changing MMORPG there’s never enough time to see everything or typing space to describe everything. Be warned it does make full use of the mature rating, from the combat, social interacting, to topless females. As with most MMORPG’s they are hard to give a grade, since they are ever changing and dependent on the player’s computer hardware. That being said Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures is a decent game.
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