Conan the Barbarian MMORPG

"For us, there is no spring. Just the wind that smells fresh before the storm."

What is best in life? "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!" So said Arnold Schwarzenegger addressing, I dunno, Republicans. Or rather, so said Arnie as Conan the Barbarian in the appalling 1982 film, and the news is there'll be plenty of crushed enemies and lamenting women heading our way early next year with the release of Age of Conan - Hyborian Adventures.

It's a PC MMORPG set in Aquilonia, a realm filled with cruel gods, mythical creatures, lost civilisations and leather bikinis. Conan has managed to seize the throne but his reign is under threat, due to something called "the doom of ancient evils", and treachery lurks around every corner and behind every door. And under some coffee tables.

Gameplay combines "a deep, story-driven single-player experience and a massive and brutal multiplayer end-game," says Funcom. There are plenty of unique features such as the Real Combat engine, a "revolutionary new multi-point melee system" which lets you swing weapons about in real-time.

And, for the first time in an online RPG according to Funcom, you'll be able to create battle formations to command both NPCs and other players in combat situations, making for some epic battles.

The multiplayer game also allows players to form guilds and lay siege to enemy castles, "letting their catapults sing the merry song of death as the enemy is crushed to a pulp." It's at this point the women start lamenting, presumably.

The Conan character was invented by Robert E. Howard for sci-fi magazine Weird Tales. He first appeared in 1932 and went on to pillage and plunder his way through 20 short stories, until Howard topped himself in 1936.

Gaute Godager, the game's director, says he has always been a huge fan of Conan and his barbarian antics. As a result, he wants to ensure that the game offers "the ultimate representation of Conan's world", and is working hard to come up with features never seen before in online gaming.

"Have you not felt the urge when a great single-player RPG ends to have your character live on and interact with other fellow travelers? To enter an even greater world?" he asks.

"This is that opportunity, to have a detailed RPG all about you, your choices and your character, and if you win - to share that victory at an even greater stage."

To see some screens of the game and join the official forum, where you can learn about German WoW guilds and what a character advancement power curve is, amongst other things, visit the Age of Conan website .

Serious fans may be interested to know that there is also a new series of Conan novels on the way, plus an anime film from Swordplay and a live action one from Warner Bros. It seems unlikely that Schwarzenegger will star, seeing as these days he is busy being Governor of California and saying things like "I think gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."

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