Conker Live & Reloaded ReviewCain Dornan
With the purchase of Rare by Microsoft Game Studios, many Xbox gamers around the world instantly began wetting their pants with anticipation of the stunningly unique and enjoyable titles that very few developers are capable of producing. Once the highly respected 2nd party developer for Nintendo, Rare had long gathered a legion of hardcore fans and gained a place as one of the most noticeable and well-respected developers throughout the world. The UK-based development studio has pumped out numerous classics, including the Donkey Kong series and Banjo Kazooie, which were all released exclusively on Nintendo’s system. Conker’s Bad Fur Day was Rare’s last title for the Nintendo 64, being released shortly before the death of Nintendo’s struggling system. As such, the announcement that Rare would be re-making the classic for the Xbox, it comes as no surprise that renewed interest
The central single player aspect of Conker: Live and Reloaded is the remade version of Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Naturally, the game has received a complete visual and audio makeover, which managers to stand comfortably beside some of today’s most impressively detailed games on the Xbox. The core gameplay remains the same, with a small number of noticeable differences that particularly occur during the first portion of the game. Since the remake of Conker’s Bad Fur Day is predominately the main single player attraction, the first part of this review will solely focus on this mode.
For those unacquainted with the lovable Conker, it won’t be long before this furry, cute little creature will remain stuck in your mind. Sporting a somewhat innocent look, this humorous squirrel is capable of drinking himself blind and blatantly losing himself within the wilderness. After getting completely wasted at the local pub with a bunch of buddies, Conker attempts to stumble his way home to his awaiting girlfriend Berri, who just happens to be the stereotypical “popular” squirrel. Unable to make his way home, Conker soon awakens beside a comedic, drunken talking scarecrow, named Birdy, who conducts quite an interesting conversation with you. And so, Conker’s unique, humorous adventure begins, throwing you through numerous locations and performing a range of tasks that combine to form a unique, interesting adventure.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day’s storyline consists of a mixture of original concepts and humorous rip-offs of classic movies and books. You’ll meet a variety of truly interesting characters, including the aforementioned Birdy the scarecrow, a midget, high-pitched voiced grim reaper named Greg, a revolting blob of human waste known as the Great Mighty Poo, a sleazy weasel who just happens to be a Mafia kingpin and an crazed, legless scientist who wants nothing more than to rule the world with his legions of teddies. It’s definitely an interesting mix of characters to say the least.
You’ll also take on the role of various characters that have made a noticeable mark in media history. Become a vampire-slaying, zombie-destroying hero as you venture through haunted graveyards and old mansions with your trusty double-barreled shotgun as Van Helsing. Or may be take on the role as Neo in daring bank hoist, pulling various Matrix-like moves through a bullet-riddled lobby. The game manages to present each role in a unique, pleasing manner that never frustrates but simply satisfies.
The Conker’s Bad Fur Day aspects of the game will have you performing a large range of odd jobs in return for the much-loved green stuff; cash. While some jobs yield nothing immediately useful, apart from a bundle of abusive cash, there are several portions of the game that requires a specific amount of cash in order to advance. Thankfully, these odd jobs never get tiring. You’ll be doing everything from assisting an old, tired horny honeybee to pick-up a young, bust sunflower. At other times, you will be assisting a group of snobby catfish who require your expertise in ridding a crazed bulldog fish from the entrance to their large safe. Each scenario is presented in a thoroughly interesting manner that sticks perfectly to the game’s overall wacky storyline.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day implements a simple, context sensitive button system that often works rather well. Upon stepping on a large “B” implanted into the ground, you will be capable of performing an action that varies depending upon the location that the button is located. Standing in the middle of a lovely green field, for example, will allow you to whip out your trust sling-shot and begin shooting nearby bugs. Stepping on the “B” button while in the middle of a poo mountain, on the other hand, will allow you to throw rolls of toilet paper at large, unsuspecting enemies. Such a simple concept has been implemented into the game in a satisfying manner, rarely distracting from the enjoyable gameplay.
Unfortunately, the simplistic gameplay that may have been fun in the Nintendo 64 days is no longer relevant in today’s advanced gaming society. The fighting system consists of simple button-tapping that often involves striking an enemy once to send them to the afterlife. As a result, the battle system quickly becomes tiring, with the only variation being offered during the limited boss battles.
Stepping outside of the Conker’s Bad Fur Day aspects of Conker: Live and Reloaded, and a large opening of new features that were previously unavailable in the Xbox version open a completely new world. Live & Reloaded offers a solid offline and online multiplayer mode, which takes on a heavy third-person shooter perspective. Upon entering the multiplayer experience, and you will be offered the ability to choose between two different sides; the furry and lovable SHC squirrels or the evil German-esque Tediz. After choosing your side, you are offered a relatively small range of character classes, which ranges from slow-moving demolitionists armed with powerful rocket launchers through to sneaky and nimble assassins, and finally skilled marksman armed with powerful snipers. Naturally, a specific class will appeal best to your playing style, however, you are offered the ability to quickly switch between classes in game.
The multiplayer aspects control quite differently from any other game currently available on the market, resulting in some frustrating deaths at first play. As a result, the multiplayer mode is truly an acquired taste; some gamers will instantly love it, while others will be hard-pressed to find anything to like about it. The multiplayer mode does require some patience to get used to, as it controls considerable differently to any other title currently available on our shelves, however, it simply won’t please everyone.
A range of multiplayer maps assist in keeping the game interesting. Game objectives vary according to the map selected, although they often revolve around capturing enemy territory or returning your enemies flag to your base. While the online multiplayer mode offers a solid amount of interesting lifetime, the split-screen mode just simply falls short. The enemy AI is often either slow and blind or incredibly skilled and unfair, picking you off from a great distance within seconds of being re-spawned. The end result is a somewhat unpolished multiplayer mode that fails to offer a quality experience that is seen throughout the single player remake of Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
Both Conker’s Bad Fur Day and the multiplayer modes offer impressive graphical presentation. Character detail and animation is of a high standard, in particular Conker himself, the other budding squirrels and the evil tediez. Conker offers brilliant fur detail, in particular during cutscenes, which sways in an incredibly realistic manner, as does Conker’s adorable little face.
The game also offers a large variety of detailed landscapes that further add to the terrific eye candy that is on offer. Tall green grass sways gently with the wind in a sunny, vibrant countryside. At other times, lightning strikes and rain pours as Conker makes his way through a small, spooky cemetery. The game has been presented in such a way that clearly proves the impressive graphical power of the Xbox.
Somewhat more impressive than the visual aspects of Conker: Live & Reloaded is the title’s brilliant voice over work. Each of the fantastic, unique personalities that you meet throughout your adventure offers believable, often humorous-sounding voices that perfectly match the creature’s appearance. Characters react to specific situations in a perfectly light-hearted and comedic fashion, swearing often which is appropriately censored with a distinctive “beep.”
While the music may not be to everyone’s liking, it certainly offers a somewhat unique fashion. As expected, the music changes accordingly depending upon the area that you in. Like the dialogue, the music is often presented in a light-hearted fashion; a stage centered on a poo universe, for example, offers a soundtrack full of varied farting noises. While it may not be to everyone’s approval, it fits perfectly with the unique, comedic atmosphere that sets this game apart from so many other titles currently on the market.
While the rather simplistic gameplay may not be top-notch, there is no doubting that Conker’s storyline and presentation is a jewel in it’s own. There is no denying that the simple battle system will quickly tire more players, the compelling and simply enjoyable storyline will ensure that anyone who begins the game will continue with the title through to the end. For those of us who have played through the original on the Nintendo 64 multiple times, the rather shallow multiplayer mode offers little reason for a purchase, as the remake of Conker’s Bad Fur Day is easily the biggest drawing point of the title. On the other hand, if you never had the chance to play the spectacular original, I strongly urge that you check this game out, as it is certainly a worthwhile experience.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.