Conker: Live and Reloaded Final Hands-On Impressions

We sleaze our way through the early bits of Rare's sordid platformer remake.

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Conker: Live & Reloaded
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Back in 2001, famed Brit development house Rare capped the Nintendo 64's life cycle with Conker's Bad Fur Day, one of the bawdiest and most unlikely platforming adventures to hit a mainstream console, well, ever. The company has more recently been at work on an updated version for the Xbox called Conker: Live and Reloaded, and the new game is finally on its way to shelves later this month. We just got our hands on the finished version of the game and started plowing through the story mode to see what's new, what's old, and how much of the original game's lewd humor has been maintained. (Quick answer: just about all of it.)

On the whole, the single-player game in Live and Reloaded hasn't changed since its original appearance in Bad Fur Day. The storyline, puzzles, combat situations, and even much of the dialogue will be as you remember them--if you played the original, that is. The game throws Conker, the ostensibly cute and cuddly squirrel, into a sordid adventure rife with potty-mouthed woodland creatures, bizarre and disgusting puzzles, and even a slew of movie-inspired sequences that draw on everything from The Terminator to Saving Private Ryan.

Live and Reloaded does feature a few subtle changes. For instance, we've seen some really amusing self-referential humor peppered throughout, such as when Conker runs up against an early puzzle whose solution is just slightly different than it was in the original game. "The designers told me this was going to be a straight port!" he complains, before the enemy informs him that with just a few such minor tweaks at the beginning of the game, Rare will be able to fool players into thinking the whole game is full of new stuff. Pretty clever, and something we hope to see more of throughout the game, regardless of what any shifty enemies are telling us.

The gameplay itself is pretty simple platforming fare--Conker can whack enemies with his bat, crawl around on all fours, and hover briefly while jumping by spinning his tail--and the game provides you with context-sensitive spots that will magically grant you whatever item it is you need to progress. In that respect, you won't be getting a lot of new content out of this remake if you played Bad Fur Day way back when, but at least the game looks an awful lot better now. It's really startling how good Live and Reloaded's characters look in their cutscene close-ups, and Rare has done an impressive job of using the Xbox's horsepower to give the models and animation the expressive qualities needed to carry the game's over-the-top humor.

Conker and friends are back and ready to offend.
Conker and friends are back and ready to offend.

As reported previously, Live and Reloaded also has a new class-based multiplayer mode that you'll be able to take on Xbox Live with up to 15 other players. Based on our initial experience, this mode has a surprising amount of depth and playability and should add a lot of value to the overall package for anyone who's already gone through the single-player portion.

Based on our early impressions, Live and Reloaded is a solid remake of one of the Nintendo 64's last and most unique games. And since Bad Fur Day came out a good six months after the PlayStation 2's release (and only about that many before the launch of the GameCube), there's a good chance a lot of you missed it, so Live and Reloaded may be the ticket if you want to experience what's certainly one of the quirkiest platformers of the last few years. For more on Conker, check out the Nintendo 64 original, and stay tuned for our review of Live and Reloaded when the game hits shelves later this month. In the meantime, check out a host of new screenshots and gameplay movies to whet your appetite.

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