E3 First Looks - Age of Conan: Hyborean Adventures
|by Karen Hertzberg|
I told my neighbor, an avid gamer, that Age of Conan was one of the games I was covering for Ten Ton Hammer. He said, “Conan? Geeze, how old is that? Who cares about Conan anymore?”
Apparently, Funcom does, and they’re hoping you will, too.
We arrived at the Funcom booth where we were taken into the “Conan Theater” for a demo of the game, which is based on Robert G. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian. AoC was running on a massive Alienware computer and shown on a giant flat screen, which was great for getting a look at the game, but unfortunately also revealed every early design glitch and crash on a grand scale. Still, when a game’s not even in closed beta just yet, you have to allow a little wiggle room.
Everything about AoC is decidedly console-ish, from it’s graphics, to its combat, to the fact that it’s single-player for the first 20 levels (which, according to Godager, should take about 10-15 hours to complete). In fact, the game looks like it would play great on a console, perhaps with an online multi-player option. Still, Funcom is calling it an MMO, and who are we to argue?
Godager opened his demonstration by showing us character creation. While it’s not the most detailed customization I’ve seen here at the show (Vanguard gets that honor), it’s still pretty impressive. Your character’s body can be adjusted from average to buff; emaciated to obese. Each aspect from arms to thighs has a slider for fine tuning. There’s even an “arse” slider (I’m not kidding; that’s what it’s really called) that allows you to…adjust the size of the junk in your trunk. Facial customization is also deep—you can even adjust the vertical curve of your character’s nose to make it look as though it’s been broken.
“You can see he looks really fierce and ugly here,” said Godager of his character, “And I’m going to make him even worse.” After he completed the customization and entered the game, he laughed and said, “Oh, he’s really ugly, isn’t he? I’m regretting this.”
Characters begin their life in Hyboria as one of three races--a Cimmerian, an Aquilonian, or a Stygian--rowing away on a slave ship, decked out in rags. For the first five levels you are a “commoner.” Then at level five you choose your base class from four archetypes: Mage, Priest, Thief or Warrior. Godadger demoed his character receiving a quest from an NPC, complete with voice-over. Then he drew a massive, ornate broadsword from a nearby table (a very real-looking sword, nothing like the inflatable ones I’ve seen handed out at the Funcom booth—I’m still bitter about not receiving one), and said to the media seated in the room, “Who wants to help me demonstrate combat? I promise I won’t decapitate you or anything.”
The reporters in the room with me laughed nervously (hey, the sword may not have been sharp, but it definitely looked heavy), so Godager proceeded to show us how players in AoC will be able to swing their swords in different directions to execute attack combos and special moves. “We call this the ‘dance of steel,’” Godager said. It was the first of a few pet terms he used.
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