Conker: Live and Reloaded is a remake of the classic Nintendo 64 game Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Bad Fur Day came out towards the end of the N64’s life, right about the time Nintendo was starting up the Gamecube hype machine. So it would be understandable if you have never heard of the game. Not learning from their previous mistake, Rare released Live & Reloaded at a similar time in the Xbox’s life when everyone’s attention was on the Xbox 360. So once again it was overlooked by most, which is unfortunate considering that Conker: Live & Reloaded is not only one of the finest platformers ever created, but it is also quite possibly the funniest game ever made.
You play as the entire game as Conker, a small red squirrel with an alcohol addiction. After a night of partying and heavy drinking, he tries to stumble his way home to his girlfriend, but wakes up to find himself lost. He sets off to find his way home, but can’t seem to get anywhere without getting in a bunch of trouble. You won’t believe what happens to him all in the span of one day.
The gameplay is similar to some of the other great platformers like Donkey Kong 64 or Rare’s Banjo-Kazooie. As you would expect, you will be jumping, smashing, shooting, and solving puzzles for all of the games 12 or so hours of gameplay. The game also makes good use of context sensitive action, something the original game was one of the first to do. You basically walk over certain pads and press a button to do any number of certain things. A few of the boss battles make good use of that mechanic, requiring you to use them to win. It seems pretty basic now but when the game came out it was pretty new. The third person shooting action controls great and some of the later stages of the game feel as if you are playing a 3rd person shooter.
There are a few negative things that you could say about the gameplay though. For a good part of the game, your only weapon that you have is a baseball bat. So combat will basically boil down to running up to an opponent, whacking them, and then jumping out of the way to dodge their counter attack. But then again, the game doesn’t focus much on this type of combat. The only people you will be whacking are those that are walking around the environment that are in your way while you are going about your business. The main focus of the game is solving puzzles, jumping around, and boss battles. And when you get to the later portion of the game, you will have weapons and even vehicles which will make this a non-issue. Also, there are one or two sections of the game that are pretty difficult, such as a race over some lava while dodging dinosaurs that will probably take you 5 or so attempts to finish. But overall, these are just minor complaints that should not hinder your enjoyment of the game much.
The world of Conker is great. Instead of feeling like a bunch of separate self contained levels, all of the areas of the game are connected and you can usually pick the order in which you want to do things. The massive graphical upgrade the game got really helps make the world feel alive. The environments are very detailed, and the fur on the characters looks awesome. Conker: Live & Reloaded is easily one of the best looking games on the Xbox. The graphical style of the game is similar to that of Kameo for the Xbox 360 with lots of lush settings and cute characters that cover up some pretty brutal and mature gameplay.
What sets the game apart from other platformers is its great sense of humor. Some of its humor comes in the form of crude jokes, but most of it comes from parody. For example, there are a few sequences in the game that parody movies like The Matrix or Saving Private Ryan. Surprisingly, these sequences are still pretty funny even though those movies came out quite a while ago. Other parts of the game, like the entire sequence when you battle the Mightypoo, are so outrageous and crude that you can’t help but laugh. The dialog in the game is also well written with a lot of humor, but obviously intended for a mature audience.
After you finish the game’s excellent single player campaign, there is a whole new online component that Rare created. The multiplayer games are large scale class based battles with vehicles. Matches pit the Tediz against the Squirrels in a variety of scenarios. If you can imagine a smaller but more action packed Battlefield 2 then you should have a good idea about how it plays. Some of the matches are set to a World War 2 theme where the Squirrels play as the Allies and the Tediz play as the Nazis, while other matches are set in the future. All of them are a blast to play, making the online extremely addicting.
Overall, Conker: Live & Reloaded is an extremely fun game. If you never played the single player game before, Conker will offer some of the best platforming gameplay out there. If you have played the old game before, the updated graphics and the whole new addicting multiplayer component makes the game worth buying over again. Every Xbox (and Xbox 360) owner that enjoys platforming games should check out Conker: Live & Reloaded.