Conan Goresplosion! Part 3

Can Conan the Barbarian still resonate with today's gamers? The minds over at publisher THQ certainly seem to think so, as they're rolling out the 75-year-old license this October in the simply-named Conan - a barrel-chested, hyper-manly slash 'em-up that completely ignores the silly Schwarzenegger movies and rips its inspiration, bleeding and raw, from the original novels by Robert E. Howard.

Voiced by Ron Perlman and scripted by Susan O'Connor (who also wrote the script for Gears of War and was consulted for Bioshock's story), this version of Conan is clever, likable and capable of much more than just grunting in a thick Austrian accent. He's also extremely adept and separating bad guys from their limbs and leaving revolting heaps of gore everywhere he goes. We've been tracking his trail of bodies for three weeks now, and we've already seen what kinds of awe-inspiring carnage he can create withone swordora pair of blades. Now, however, we're pulling out the big guns.

As we've previously discussed, Conan can use four fighting styles throughout the course of the game, depending on what kinds of weapons he picks up after eviscerating his foes. This week, we'll see what he can do when he picks up a man-sized broadsword or an intimidating poleaxe. It's not pretty, but it's damned entertaining. Here's a sample:

And here's a rundown of what you just saw:

Steps of Hell
Parry+Square (PS3)/Parry+X (360)
We don't know what would possess the thugs that populate Conan's world to run up and attack a steroid hulk with a sword that's as big as they are, but they do. If Conan parries their attacks successfully, though, he'll be able to leap into the air and bring his gigantic, razor-sharp hunk of metal down on his enemies' heads, splitting them neatly in half, with guts dangling out obscenely. Neat!

Demon's Descent
Parry+Triangle (PS3)/Parry+Y (360)
This is one of the more improbable moves in Conan's arsenal. Parrying an attack successfully will enable Conan to toss his sword up into the air, and then quickly uppercut his enemy straight into the blade for an impossibly neat skewer. It's almost a pity Conan shakes the guy off his weapon when he catches it - fighting off barbarians with a rancid-corpse shish-ka-bob has a certain morbid appeal.

King's Execution
Triangle, Square, Triangle (PS3)/Y,X,Y (360)
This is our absolute favorite move in the game, and we try to overuse it as much as possible. Anyone on the receiving end of this gets a swift kick to the nuts - momentarily stunning him - before Conan chops the sword down in a deft arc, messily splitting the guy in two and splattering gore everywhere. It just never gets old.

Stygian Skewer Fling
Square, Square, Triangle, Triangle+hold (PS3)/X,X,Y,Y+hold (360)
Here we have a perfect example of a serious-looking move that goes all silly at the last minute. The first three buttons listed above will perform a Stygian Skewer, which ends with Conan running his enemies through with whatever insanely gargantuan blade he's holding. That fourth button, however, will keep the enemy stuck on the tip of the sword or poleaxe or whatever as Conan spins around and around like a ballerina, repeatedly corpse-clubbing anyone unfortunate enough to be standing nearby.

Outlaw's Hilt
Square, Square, Circle (PS3)/X,X,B (360)
Conan doesn't believe in wasting things - that's why he uses every last part of his weapons for killing. In this move, for example, he won't murder his enemies with the blade of whatever weapon he's holding - instead, he'll use its hilt to uppercut their heads off.

Bloody Crown
Square, Square, Circle, Triangle (PS3)/X,X,B,Y (360)
There are some enemies who are so tough, trying to punch their head off with the Outlaw's Hilt will just make them dizzy. If you happen to meet one of them, following the Outlaw's Hilt with a strong slash will execute this charming maneuver, a downward slice that cuts them in half. Or cleaves the headless body in half, if you've successfully decapitated them. Classy.

Slayer's Bladesaw
Square, Square, Square, Triangle (PS3)/X,X,X,Y (360)
This is a tough one to line up, but if you do it right, Conan will finish a potentially lethal chopping combo by hurling whatever giant sword or poleaxe he's holding at his enemies. It'll then buzzsaw through the air, bisecting everything it comes in contact with before returning to Conan's hands like a boomerang. Because, you know, that's what huge-ass broadswords do.

Heavy Descending
Triangle while jumping (PS3)/X while jumping (360)
Once again, sometimes the best moves are the simplest, and unlike the rest of the moves on this list, you'll never even have to unlock this one. Simply jump into the air, hit the heavy attack button and Conan will bring his blade down in a leaping chop that'll - you guessed it - vertically bisect his enemies and leave snaking lengths of intestine lying around for someone to step in.

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.