The tales of Conan are told through best selling novels, movies, comic books, and video games. From the mind of legendary author Robert E. Howard, it tells the exploits of Conan the Barbarian. A bloodthirsty Cimmerian warrior who begins with nothing and works his way through adventure and war all to proclaim his rightful place as the greatest warrior the Hyborian Age has ever known.
Now Real-time Strategy veterans Petroglyph, who worked on Command and Conquer as Westwood Studios and on Star Wars Empire at War as Petroglyph, set the stage for leading Conan’s army against the onslaught of the barbarian hordes. It’s time to find what is best in life as you battle your way through Conan Unconquered.
Conan Unconquered bills itself as a survival RTS game. You start off with a stronghold, your hero who will lead your armies and from here you must gather resources to build an army to fight incoming waves of enemies. You’ll build structures such as lumber mills and quarries to recruit troops and form defenses. You’ll start off with basic units and send them to the front to hold the line against the first wave of attackers. Your hero and a few soldiers can hold the first waves rather easily, however they will soon approach again in far greater numbers with much stronger troops among their ranks. Thus you’ll need to research using the various guilds to harvest more food, accumulate more money, build more advanced defensive structures and raise tougher troops. Playing the game in co-operative mode will allow even more advantage as there will be 2 generals placing defenses and gathering men to repel attackers from more fronts.
In between waves, it’s a good idea to gather some men and go hunting for monsters which when their lair is destroyed, will grant you loot such as more resources and money. If you feel truly warlike you may gather a party of your best men alongside your hero and march them to enemy encampments scattered across the map and kill their guardians.
It’s manic trying to gather enough resources in time to gather enough men to hold the line after each wave, but it’s also a thrill as you feel the adrenaline of battle sending more and more of your men to the front to show that not even these savage hordes can stand in your way. Battles are vicious and bloody as swords, spears, spells, clubs, and arrows clash, bash, break, smash and slice through flesh and bone as the barbarity of the Hyborian age is in full splendor as you beat back horde after horde after horde. Your walls are impenetrable. Your hero’s skill is unmatched and your army, after each victorious battle, is truly unconquerable.
Not only do your armies have to fight the hordes of enemies coming to your gates, but you have to fight the elements as well. Sandstorms will smash into your stronghold, corpses lying on the battlefield will rot and bring about disease. Poison can infect scores of your troops and fire will spread and cause chaos among your ranks. However, these dangers are also available to you to use against the enemy with the proper research. Setting up defenses which use fire and poisonous gases will weather enemy ranks within minutes. Corpses on the battlefield can be used by a necromancer to replenish your ranks with the undead. The deadly elements of the Hyborian Age can be turned in the favor of a cunning strategist who is able to master the field around him and not just rely on troop numbers.
Conan Unconquered is a rip-roaring, intense and very fun RTS game allowing you to command Conan himself and watch him and your army hold the line against vicious barbarian hordes. What’s on offer is the opportunity to put your strategic skills to the test to beat back a savage enemy again and again. However, this game is also lacking in many areas which prevents it from being one of the quintessential RTS games that stands with RTS heavyweights like Age of Empires, Command and Conquer, Company of Heroes, Rise of Nations, Empire Earth and others.
Conan Unconquered does not really deviate from formulas established by RTS games from before. It does bring some uniqueness with the waves of increasingly difficult enemies to contend with, but ultimately you’re still gathering resources, still researching for better tech and still gathering troops to fight the enemy, with the only difference being that you’re not gathering an army to destroy your opponent’s base but rather you’re building forces to survive attack wave after attack wave.
The graphics aren’t the best seen in this genre. It looks like an RTS game from 2002 which in this age, should not be what developers are aiming for. It doesn’t really deter from the fun that you’ll have from this game but it’s still a very noticeable flaw. Sound effects are quite intense with the sound of flesh and bone being torn to pieces with weapons, magic, and deadly elements. Listening to your heroes’ taunts can be rather amusing as you’re giving them orders and charging them into battle, but unfortunately, nothing stands out too much in the sound department. Not even the orchestral score.
The biggest drawback to this game is that there is no campaign to play through. The world of Conan is ripe for weaving a bloody and heroic tale, especially when Conan himself is part of your army, but unfortunately, that opportunity was never taken. Thus what you’re left with are merely minor variations of skirmish matches and just 5 missions of repelling waves under certain rules.
The pathfinding of both enemy and your units are hilariously bad. They’ll get stuck on objects and continue running on the spot and even if their path is clear they’ll run on the spot without moving, even if you’ve told them where they’re supposed to go.
An RTS based on Conan the Barbarian was long overdue and it’s gratifying to see Petroglyph take matters into their own hands and allow you to command the man himself and watch him take part in gruesome battles with hundreds fighting alongside him. The game doesn’t provide a great deal of content right now, units are a bit dumb, it doesn’t look very good and it’s not unlike anything you haven’t seen before, but what it has is sure to provide enthusiasts of the genre enough motivation to march your army to battle and drive back the coming storm. Grab Conan Unconquered, prepare your men and only in battle when your enemies are crushed and driven before you while you’re listening to the lamentations of their women will you truly discover for yourself what is best in life.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Conan Unconquered for the PC provided by Funcom.