Ah, the age of Conan. A time when men were men, women were all gagging for it and evil sorcerers were busy ruining everyone's fun with their nefarious machinations. Welcome to Hyboria; better have an oiled blade and a bumper box of elastoplasts at the ready... because you're sure as hell gonna need them.
For starters, we'll come out like the Conasexuals we are and declare our undying love for all things Cimmerian. This king of the barbarians is one mighty piece of property. He's a no-holds-barred war and sex machine who'll slaughter legions of evil-doers prior to brekky before sating himself on a bevy of lusty wenches. He's the only man we know who can get away with wearing a furry thong and still look dead hard. In short, he's our hero.
Ergo, he's also the chappie perfectly equipped to take on God of War's fearsome Kratos and win out - the ultimate hero against the ultimate anti-hero. Alas, for the iron-thewed barbarian, while he puts up an admirable scrap in the fighting department he's hamstrung by a missed opportunity in the platforming sections here.
Still, during the seven or so hours it'll take you to steamroll through the game (a pretty respectable length for a button-masher, all told) and recapture each part of Conan's stolen armour you'll have journeyed halfway across Hyboria - battled pirates, demons, monster apes, stone demons, rescued virtuous maidens and foiled the machinations of an evil sorcerer who's sporting a 'Johnny Depp meets The Darkness' look. In short, despite the near nonsensical and disjointed narrative it's a royal hoot and a return to those halcyon days when hack-'n'-slashers - above all others - absolutely ruled the gaming roost.
Vitally, the combat is excellent. Random button-mashing is out; even on Easy mode you will take a beating if you don't block conservatively and learn to use Conan's evasive roll. Make no mistake though; it'll be a miracle if you don't emerge from a session of Conan blistered of digit, calloused of thumb and addled of brain. Even though the combo system favours tactical acumen, you'll also need to do your fair share of spasmodic button-mashing to win through, pulling off memorably-titled moves like 'Monkey Slams', 'Black River Rage' and 'Demon's Descent' with aplomb.
Helping to keep things interesting is the excellent weapons system. Conan can always fall back on his trusted one-handed blade, but you're encouraged to experiment by picking up the tools of fallen foes. One-handed short swords, two-handed pikes, dual-wielded sabres, shields - each overtly affects Conan's style, so it's vital to pick the best.
As reward for your Herculean labours, Conan hits the payback button big time; treating you lucky lot to perhaps the goriest game since Soldier of Fortune. It's hard to explain in mere words how visceral Conan is; but you'll derive extreme satisfaction as you hack into your human foes, even if the game's final mission - which pits our Cimmerian against a variety of vaporous spirits and living statues, misses the splattered point somewhat.
The more imaginatively you massacre your foes, the more red orbs you'll accumulate with which to purchase even more charnel-licious moves. Build up your little yellow bar to the max and your swords will sing the Song of Death, glowing red and whistling through the air as you slice and dice with abandon. Best of all, though, are the execution moves - initiated by pressing LT to block just at the point of impact. Then if you're quick enough to hit one of the face buttons Conan'll get busy ripping out entrails, cleaving foes in twain and popping their skulls like ripe melons. Glorious.