John McDonald

Blogging about politics, life, and the web

Age of Conan Sucks – Don’t Bother

June 28th, 2010

My friend seems to be enjoying it on Windows XP and Windows 7, but if you’ve got Vista like me don’t even bother.

So my friend told me that this Age of Conan game (AOC) is now in some kind of free trial. I don’t know all the details about what’s available in the free version versus the paid game, but I’m assuming they’re trying to copy the relative success of DDO’s free trial strategy.

Unfortunately, AoC just fails to deliver again and again.

From the outset, the installation didn’t want to play well with Windows. Even though I once had Windows Media 11 & DirectX 10 installed but the game decided to “upgrade me” to WM9 and DX9 for some odd reason. After that, it tried to do the same thing with my video cards even though the version I was running was plainly higher than the one they were recommending. At least they asked me before messing up my video card… if only they had been so considerate before screwing up my Windows files.

I suppose there is an actual game in there somewhere to review, so let me try to put this… experience… in to words.

The character creation screen is great. If you’re more concerned about what your guy looks like than what kind of skills, abilities, and development path they’re going to take. Everything about your class and fighting style is pretty damn cookie-cutter, but you can customize the visual details as much as you want.

Inside the game world, the first thing you might notice as being different from other MMORPGs is the collision detection. At first it seems like a nice improvement, but it doesn’t take too long before I’m getting trapped in to very linear paths because visually small objects are actually massive roadblocks.

The first quest exemplifies this. A women is chained up along a large gap in the wall, but you have to walk all the way around the island to confront her captors. Visually though, there’s plenty of room for two Conans to duck and step over her chains.

For a moment, the game seems decent as I get lost in the hacking and slashing of a mindless grind. Then the mindlessness becomes acute: I don’t think I actually lost more than 10% of my health at any given time. I did actually die once on the way to the city, but it happened instantly when I stepped on a rock jutting out 30 feet above a river of lava. I guess the draft was bad because my corpse was incinerated immediately.

In order to get in to the town and advance from there, you’ve got to complete a series of quests that amounts to collecting rocks and talking to a half dozen people. Unless you’re really impressed by the flaky cut scenes, this means a bit snooze fest.

I got to the “night time” mode or whatever, but when I tried to talk to someone a gang of mobs twice my level decided to attack me in the middle of another cut scene. Of course, you can’t fight back in a cut-scene so I just lied down and died. And waited. And waited some more, because there’s no way to leave the conversation when you’re dead.

That was about enough of that, so I quickly forced my way out of the game and went for the uninstall button. Unfortunately, I had at least one more wait left because for some reason closing Age of Conan causes my computer to open Windows Media Center in full screen mode.

I could elaborate about the uninspired directional combat, the extreme graphic effects that are too dramatic to be considered realistic, or the linear quest pathing and shallow story-lines… but now I’ve got to go get my Direct X and Media Player back to where they used to be.




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